Was this really LeBron's first win in Miami? Wow, somehow I did not know that. He's played well here before, but they've had some brutal losses down there... blown some huge leads...
LeBron vs Wade, TNT was thrilled. Dwyane Wade had 42 points, 7 assists and 6 boards and he scored Miami's last 18 points. James had 'just' 28 points, 5 assists and 3 boards (to go along with 4 steals and 5 turnovers). You could tell that TNT really wanted a Wade-James battle and for a minute or two it looked almost likely... but James forced the issue and turned the ball over twice in a row (an errant pass and then a charge). However, a duel never really took place. LeBron calmed down and ran the offense while Wade just went 1-on-5 the rest of the way.
I was unaware we got Miami's home announcers for the game. I dunno, maybe it was just me, but the coverage was a little too Miami-centric for my tastes. Interviews with Shaq and Zo, lots of talk about Pat Riley and the future, lot's of talk about Wade, not sure the Cavs were even mentioned at halftime... meh, I dunno, maybe I'm just cranky. Oh, until Wade hit a 3 with under a minute to go, the Heat were in danger of going without a trey for the first time 125 games or something. I'm glad that kept being brought up (meanwhile, Daniel Gibson didn't hit a 3, which I'm pretty sure breaks a streak for him, but that was never mentioned).
The refs bugged me too. Wade got a continuation call against Pavlovic that blew my mind. Varejao was part of two plays that were quite ridiculous. Early in the game Jason Williams shoved Andy out of bounds (with two hands!), Varejao lost the ball and it was called Heat ball. Then somehow Varejao got into a jump ball situation despite nobody else having their hands on the ball. The Heat could've gotten some calls too, but some of the blatant blown calls went against the Cavs (not that TNT pointed it out- I mean seriously, no mention of Williams shoving Varejao? How is that not mentioned?).
The bigs played well. It may have taken 10 years, but Z is finally getting the best of Shaq. Z had a double-double (13 points, 11 boards) and had a big tip-in late in the fourth quarter. Shaq finished with 10 points (all in the first half) and 5 boards. Gooden had a decent game with 11 points and 5 boards (he even went straight up for a dunk once!) but he didn't sniff crunch time. Varejao had 6 points, 10 boards and a nifty assist to Z for a dunk on a 2-on-1 break.
Larry Hughes and Sasha Pavlovic both played really, really decent. Pavlovic went 4-7, scored 11 points, hit the only 3 he took and added 4 assists and 3 boards. Definitely one of his better games of late. And Hughes was decidedly 'not awful' in scoring 9 points on 4-8 shooting (though he did airball a 3 badly) and adding 2 boards (0 assists for the Cavs starting point guard). Would you be shocked to learn that they too didn't sniff the court during crunch time?
Speaking of, I really like the Cavs crunch time lineup. Damon Jones and Daniel Gibson spread the floor really well, Varejao and Z are great on the offensive glass and LeBron is LeBron. That's a lineup that should give you points. Both Z and Andy had big tip-ins late in the game and Jones hit a 3 in the fourth. Gibson didn't have a good game offensively, he shot just 2-10 and he seemed to be pressing.
8-1 in January? Well done. At what point do we start hearing about those red hot Cavs? Anytime soon? They've won 4 in a row and 10 of their last 12. Though they have a rough-ish stretch coming up. They play Washington (Wednesday) and Phoenix (Friday) at home before they head out West of a quick three game swing (Lakers, Blazers and Sonics). On a personal note, there's a 99.999999% chance that I won't be recapping Wednesday's game against the Wizards, Friday's game against the Suns and Sunday's game against the Lakers due to a little trip I'll be taking to New York City.