Seriously guys, I could've been watching Heroes. Wow, was that game ugly. Sure, you can talk about how it's the second night of a back-to-back, that it's the last game of the trip or any other excuse you can think up(Denver shot well, they're a poor matchup on the best of nights and the Cavs were missing bodies) but the fact is the Cavs didn't show up. There was no movement on offense and the defense was a step slow all night. Tired legs? Maybe. But in Denver, LeBron was getting the ball 25 feet from the hoop, rather than the 15 feet we've been used to seeing.
Larry Hughes had the right idea. Hughes got himself thrown out about 4 minutes into the game for arguing a foul (a foul on a jumpshot. Really? This is what you're getting thrown out for?) and didn't have to participate in the ensuing bloodbath. The Cavs could've used Larry's length in guarding Allen Iverson throughout the night (just to give him some different looks). The Cavs were already without Eric Snow (knee), Donyell Marshall (wrist), Sasha Pavlovic (back) and Anderson Varejao (dumbass) and they couldn't afford to lose another player.
LeBron had the quietest (and ugliest) 27 points you'll ever see. LeBron was attacking the basket early on and got to the line enough (14 FTA) but couldn't convert (8 FTM). Maybe it was his tired legs, maybe it was his poor free throw shooting, but as the game wore, LeBron settled more and more for jumpers (and long ones at that). James only had one rebound and that came early in the first quarter.
Allen Iverson always kills the Cavs. A.I. just had his way with Daniel Gibson (who picked up some dumb fouls again) in route to scoring 37 points on an un-Iverson-like 14-20 shooting. To be fair, when he's shooting at a high percentage (he was 2-4 from 3), he's basically unguardable.
The first half was brutal. The Cavs shot 24% in the first quarter and 35% for the entire half (while Denver was pouring them in at a 58% clip) and only made 9 out of 17 freebies. Somehow they were only down 3 at the end of the first period (21-18) but the lead ballooned to 15 at halftime and the Nuggets never looked back.
Not that the second half was any better. For the game, the Nuggets shot 55% from the floor and 54.5% from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Cavs shot 55.3% from the foul line. The entire fourth quarter was garbage time. The game was ugly.
The Cavalier big men were not good. Z was 1-6 and Gooden was 2-9. They still rebounded fairly well (I guess), Z had 6 boards in 20 minutes while Gooden pulled down 9 in 28. They both got burned on the defensive end quite a bit, especially Z (Marcus Camby took him off the dribble multiple times; the big guy just couldn't keep up).
Hey, Shannon Brown got some court time. And it only took a Hughes ejection, injuries to Snow and Pavlovic and a blow out. To his credit, Brown responded to his 16 minutes of PT by scoring 12 points on 4-9 shooting (hell, he also made 4-5 free throws, which was the best on the team).
Home! It's too bad the Cavs ended the trip on this note, because they had a real solid first 5 games. 3-3 is not a bad trip at all (but man, 4-2 would've been nice). If there's a silver lining to Monday's game, it's the fact that Coach Mike got the starters some rest due to the blow out (and Hughes' temper). I hope it helps, because the Cavs aren't going to get much rest before facing Orlando in Cleveland on Wednesday in a quick turnaround game. It wouldn't shock me if the look a step slow in the game as well.