Thursday, February 14, 2008

San Antonio 112, Cleveland 105

There's a couple of ways to take this game. You can tip your cap, you can lament the poor D and you can lament the poor offensive execution. All three are legit.

Tipping my cap. Manu Ginobili... dear lord. 46 points, 8 assists, 5 boards and 3 steals. He was 15-20 from the floor! He was 7-8 from behind the arc! He was 8-9 from the foul line! (ok, that last one isn't as impressive... but still). I spent most of the game wondering when they'd switch LeBron on him... but it never really materialized. I also kept waiting for the Cavs to knock him on his ass (legitimately, not due to a flop) and he did fall hard... with a minute left in the game. To a certain extent there's only so much you can do when a guy is hot like that (I mean, 7-8 from downtown!) but I would've liked to see someone body him up.

The defense was not good. Manu's hot streak facilitated everything, but the Cavs didn't keep him out of the lane either (this I put on Hughes and Devin Brown) and when the defense collapsed, the Spurs found the open men camped outside for 3. The Spurs scored 41 points in the final period! 41 points! That's insane. The Cavs would have stretches of decent D, but they never lasted very long (someone always ended up making a boneheaded play). One play in particular sticks out: just under two minutes to go, leading 103-100 with 6 seconds left on the 24 clock, the Spurs were inbounding from the baseline corner. LeBron simply fell asleep on the play and lost Ime Udoka, who ran right under the rim and got a layup (which basically put the game out of reach). It's not like LeBron got picked or didn't know who his man was... he just lost him.

The offense was good, but there were things I didn't like. It's hard to fault the offense when they score 105 points for the game and 30 for the final period, but I will. A lot of the scoring came via the jumpshot. The Cavs were 11-22 from beyond the arc, but they seemed to settle for 3s late in the game (especially after the Spurs hit a few bombs to take and build the lead). LeBron was the main culprit, as he was just 1-5 from downtown. The Cavs rarely ventured inside and they ended up with just 16 free throw attempts. Again, it's hard to find fault with 105 points against the Spurs, but there weren't a lot of good shots taken down the stretch.

All that being said, LeBron was pretty awesome. James finished with 39 points, 9 assists and 6 boards. He shot the ball fairly well (17-31 FG but just 1-5 3pt and 4-7 FT) but seemed to grow frustrated with the foul and free throw situation. James got a tech late in the first half after he picked up his 3rd foul while attempting to block a shot by Duncan. James was frustrated because he felt he should've gone to the stripe the last few times down the court. However, to me, the fouls that James picked up were pretty legit. He got mostly wrist when he blocked Timmy D's shot. James definitely should've had more free throws (though he should've attacked more often too) but if anyone deserves to be pissed at the refs, it's Z (who was in foul trouble all game). For all the contact the refs allowed out there, three of the big fella's four fouls were iffy at best (and dead wrong at worst).

My reaction to Larry's performance against Orlando: freaking awesome. Against San Antonio: Pretty sweet, but.... Against the Magic this past Monday, Hughes was taking good shots and attacking the rim (netting 13 FTAs) on his way to 40 points. Against the Spurs on Wednesday, Larry scored 26 points (11-19 FG, 4-7 3pt) but had just one free throw attempt (which he missed). Versus the Magic he was hot and playing the right way, versus the Spurs he was just hot (and that worries me). It wasn't that Hughes took bad shots, it's just that a lot of his jumpers fell. Check out his shot chart, from what I can tell, only four of his shots came inside of 15 feet. Don't get me wrong, Larry was awesome (6 boards, 3 assists and no turnovers) but I dunno... I just think his Orlando game was something to build off of, whereas the only lessons learned from the Spurs game was that it sure is nice when long jumpers fall.

Drew Gooden is practically worthless. He guy doesn't go up strong (really, a reverse layup in traffic?), he rebounds well but gives up offensive boards too often (off a free throw) and he regularly loses his man on defense (and let's not get into his 'help' D). To his credit, Drew still grabbed 11 boards even when his shot was falling (2-8) but the Cavs could've used him during crunch time, but Mike Brown (for some reason) was relying on Donyell Marshall (who did hit a big 3 with about six minutes to go... but who also was outrebounded by Damon Stoudamire). I can't wait for Varejao to return.

The Cavs held the lead for the bulk of this game. The Cavs led after the first 3 periods. While their lead was as high as 12, they usually had a pretty solid cushion of 3-7 points. They even had the lead for the first half of the fourth quarter. Then this happened (keep in mind, these are consecutive possessions):

6:13 - Bruce Bowen makes 22-foot three point jumper (Manu Ginobili assists)
5:39 -
Manu Ginobili makes 25-foot three point jumper
5:03 -
Bruce Bowen makes 9-foot jumper (Michael Finley assists)
4:22 -
Bruce Bowen makes 24-foot three point jumper (Manu Ginobili assists)
3:53 -
Manu Ginobili makes 25-foot three point jumper (Michael Finley assists)
3:08 -
Manu Ginobili makes 25-foot three point jumper (Michael Finley assists)

Before Bowen's 3, the Cavs held a lead of 88-84. After Ginobili's final dagger, they were down 101-95. A 17-7 run, 6-6 from the field in just over three minutes. Yup, that'll do a team in.

and finally...

Rest up boys. This was the 5th game in 7 nights and the last game before the All-Star break. The Cavs need this time to heal up. Daniel Gibson could've suited up for Wednesday's ball game, but Mike Brown said he'd be on a 15 minute limit and with the break coming up, he'd rather not chance it (which makes sense). The Cavs next game is on Tuesday, at home against the Rockets and they then play the next night in Indiana (and why wouldn't they come out with a back-to-back, second game on the road?). Oh, and if you haven't heard, the trade deadline is a week from Thursday.

3 comments:

John said...

He is really on fire!!! Wow!!! That kind of performance deserve the 6th man award. no doubt about that.

Let me know about your thoughts....

http://mundoalbiceleste.blogspot.com/2008/02/nba-news-g-i-n-o-b-i-l-i.html

Erik said...

I'm kind of half-and-half on this game, which is pretty much what you said in the recap, Ben.

On one hand, this is why the Spurs are a great team. Guys step up in the fourth quarter. It wasn't just Ginobili, Duncan was moving around in the paint, scoring over useless post defense, and they didn't miss Tony Parker one bit late in the game, which was shocking.

But it was also the Cavs non-defense. One sequence in particular made me want to put my foot through the TV and send the repair bill to Dan Gilbert:

When the Cavs had clawed to within four points with about two minutes left, they put a great defensive possession together that ended with LeBron knocking the ball out of bounds with six seconds on the shot clock. But then Robert Horry was completely lost in the shuffle on the inbounds pass and dropped the ball in the basket uncontested.

You just can't make mistakes like that and beat San Antonio. The Cavs should know that as well as any team in the league by now.

This game underscored to me why the Cavs need an enforcer in the low post. Gooden intimidates no one, nor does Z, and Andy is more of a pest. Even if Andy was out there last night, he probably wouldn't have had much of an effect in quelling the Spurs in the fourth quarter because he doesn't specialize in the Katherine Hepburn "Can you hear the LOONS?!!" head-check contact foul.

They do indeed need someone who can knock Ginobili on his ass when he drives. Ginobili can get his 46, sometimes that happens, but he'd better get it at the line with a few new bruises, or by drilling impossible jump shots with a hand in his face.

That didn't happen last night. The Cavs allowed Manu to get into a rhythm against a sluggish defense, and he basically H-O-R-S-Ed the Cavs into submission.

davemanddd said...

nba referees suck. i swear they wouldn't know the difference between a foul and a murder and if either involved a cavs player, they would swallow their whistles just like they always do. and i thought there was supposed to be a home court advantage when it came to calling fouls in the nba??? it's one thing for the visiting team to get more free throws than the home team, but twice as many??? gimme a break. it's pretty bad when lebron doesn't even get a call when they draw blood, let alone when they snap his head back. i am just so sick of the blatant disregard that the officials obviously have for the cavs in general and specifically lebron. to add insult to injury, they even call him for a technical after he protests their failure to do their damn job!!! this is so reminiscent of the way the cavs were treated back in the day with mark price, brad daugherty, larry nance, hot rod williams, craig ehlo and ron harper when they were labeled as "marshmallows" while the detroit "bad boys" were given free reign to run roughshod over people without hardly any sort of retribution whatsoever. speaking of which, i still wish somebody would have clocked rick mahorn in his butt-ugly puss after he purposely elbowed mark price in the head and gave him that concussion. anyway, i don't know how many times manu ginobli pushed off the man who was guarding him to give himself space to take a shot and the refs never once called him for an offensive foul. pathetic. if you ask me, they might as well not even play with officials if this is the way they insist on calling the games. they even showed one of the highlights on espn in which ginobli was dribbling out on the perimeter trying to work around a screen when z came out on a hard "show" and ginobli proceeded to give z such a forearm shiver that he damn near knocked z on his butt before he stepped back behind the line and hit a 3. of course the espn talking head called it a good play on ginobli's part when nothing could be further from the truth. it was an outright foul and the officials didn't do a damn thing about it. it's after watching games like this is when i get the most mad at danny ferry for not doing anything to bring in someone who can be an enforcer on the inside and not let guys like ginobli go off for 46 and never once get knocked to the ground. the last time i looked, i thought the ageless dale davis was still available out on the free agent market. at least he is someone who would challenge a few shots and put a body on people instead of simply trying to play position defense and take a charge/flop that has become so en vogue these days. oh well, the all-star break is here and so this should give the cavs some much needed time for rest and recuperation as they make their second half push towards the playoffs. the question is, can they go even farther in the post-season than what they did last year and actually win the nba title??? we can only hope.