The Cavs were playing catchup all game. New Jersey started out the game shooting 77% and jumped to a 38-23 first quarter lead. A lot of the shots were jumpers, which you knew weren't going to fall all game (at least not at that clip) but they also got a ton of easy hoops inside (it was like the Cavs were missing their starting big men or something). Throughout the game, the Cavs made runs, but they couldn't sustain the defensive effort long enough to make a permanent dent. They got within 5 (49-44) with four minutes to go in the second quarter, but by halftime they were down by 11 (58-47).
What more can LeBron do (aka: How is he not the MVP Part XI)? At this point, I feel weird that I'm not freaking out because a Cavalier went for 42 points (a 42 point game doesn't even phase me anymore). James was spectacular; he scored 42 on 12-23 shooting, he grabbed 11 boards, had 7 assists, blocked 2 shots and had a steal. With both Z and Wallace out, LeBron got some time at the power forward position and he used the opportunity to send a message foul to Josh Boone (every Cavalier big man, please take note). He wasn't perfect though; James was just 16-23 from the foul line (though I love his aggressiveness) and he coughed the ball up 6 times (and those were his fault. He had one late which Austin Carr blamed on Damon Jones. I don't know what Austin saw, but I saw James throw the ball to the other team, not sure what Damon had to do with that).
The refs weren't awful, but they weren't good either. LeBron had one of his shots goaltended (it hit glass first) and it wasn't called. Also, Varejao picked up a couple of really cheap fouls which limited his minutes (his second foul was atrocious. Violet Palmer whistled Andy for a foul on a rebound, when she was behind the pile of people while Varejao wasn't even part of the play. Just awful).
These guys miss Z quite a bit. They need someone else to consistently take the scoring load off LeBron. Devin Brown stepped up (19 points), but if he's your second option. Plus, the Cavs gave up a ton of easy baskets inside and Z (coupled with Wallace) would do a lot to deter those shots. It's the little things too; Z nets 'Bron an assist or two a game just with the pick-and-pops alone and he'll get at least four points off of tipped rebounds.
Rebounds hurt. The Cavs somehow won the rebounding battle 43-36 but they got beat on the boards early (the first quarter is what lost them this game). However, with as bad as they played, they had a chance to get the ball back, down two points with 16 seconds left, but Vince Carter grabbed an offensive rebound off a free throw. That was the game right there (Carter went to the line and made both to push the lead to four). The Cavs played poorly but they still had a legit chance to win this game... I'm not sure if that says more about them or the Nets, but it's worth mentioning.
Sasha was back. Mike Brown started Pavlovic in his first game back... and he played just 10 minutes and missed two shots. I'm not sure what Brown got out of that stint, but I saw that Sasha... played 10 minutes and missed two shots. Also, Delonte West had under 20 minuntes (19) let's not have that happen any more...
Bounce back against the Wizards. Caron Butler returns Thursday night, so you'd imagine that Washington might have some extra energy. If the Cavs play a full 48 minutes, they should win handily.... They play the Bobcats on Sunday and they're at Orlando on Monday (yet another back-to-back... with the second game on the road. Awesome).