I'm back. Sorry I've missed the last two games. I warned that I could be flaky this year, with grad school and all. Anyways...
This game was much, much closer than the final score indicates. The lead seesawed back and forth throughout the game and the Cavs led 99-98 with just under 4:00 to go. The Knicks always play the Cavs tough and the usual suspects, Nate Robinson (24 points, 10-18 FG) and Jamaal Crawford (25 points, 9-16 FG), did their usual damage.
The reason the final score is deceiving? LeBron James. LeBron finished the night with 50 points, 10 assists, 8 boards and 4 steals. He scored 12 points (all off of treys) in the last 3:00 to bury the Knicks. James spent most of the night chirping with Jay-Z and Spike Lee and he walked off the court to some chants of M-V-P. James scored 50 points and shot over 50% from the field (16-30) and a ridiculous 7-13 from behind the arc. This guy is the best player on the planet right now. I can understand announcers and media types wanting to give the MVP to Kobe, but I highly suspect those people have watched more Laker games this season. I don't know how you can watch James night-in, night-out and not come away thinking that this kid is the best in the NBA.
Damon Jones also helped seal the win. Jones finished with 15 points and hit some big 3s late in the game. Jones hit four 3s in the fourth period and two in the final minute. He finished 5-8 from the floor (all 3s) with 2 boards and 2 assists. With the addition of Delonte West
coupled with Jones playing so well, Daniel Gibson is going to have to fight for some court time when he returns.
West had a great first quarter, but then disappeared. Delonte had 10 points in the first period... and had 10 points for the game. He didn't play poorly (though he had trouble with Robinson
and Crawford, but I almost feel like that's part of his Cavalier initiation) and his final numbers aren't awful (10 points, 3 assists and 2 boards) but I would've liked to have seen him build from the first quarter.
Joe Smith kicks ass. Smith has been the most consistent player since the trade and he had a nice night in New York. Smith came off the bench and chipped in 8 points and 11 boards in just 22 minutes. Smith's work on the glass bought the Cavs some extra possessions; out of those 11 boards, 7(!) were offensive.
Varejao just doesn't look healthy. It's not like he's laboring out there, but you can tell he's not 100%. He's simply not as active; the multiple jumpers, the annoying defense... it's not always there. Plus, he hasn't been getting the charging calls on a regular basis, which cuts Andy's effectiveness in half.
With one line, Austin Carr salvaged his night. After a night full of L-Trains, hammers being thrown down and the constant proclaiming that Eddy Curry is "a load" I was pretty much fed up with the FSNOhio crew. But then the Knicks tried to throw a lob to Curry... and Austin was simply stunned. He went off on this "what are you thinking? Whales can't jump!" rant which just killed me. Sure, 90% of his night was annoying as all hell, but what can I say, I'm a sucker for Eddy Curry whale jokes.
Man... that Milwaukee game still sticks in my craw. The Cavs are 6-2 over their last eight games and 4-2 with all the new players. With breaking in four new player and all the injuries, it's pretty remarkable that the Cavs are winning a lot of games. But imagine how we'd feel if Future-Cavalier Michael Redd didn't make that 30 footer... They'd be 5-1 with the new players with their only loss coming on the road in Boston. Right now, I'm still in the 'wait and see' mode in regards to the trade; I think they'll be fine, but I'm not totally sold yet (and I think the Bucks loss has a lot to do with it). The Cavs are on TNT Thursday night in a rematch against the Chicago Bulls. That's right, a national audience for the game following his 50 eruption... can't wait.