Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cleveland 117, Sacramento 104

Now THAT was fun. Do you like lots of points and lead changes? How about LeBron and stud rookie Tyreke Evans battling it out while sending the game into overtime? And for the hell of it, throw in three treys from a 7-3 Lithuanian in that overtime. Fun fun fun game. LeBron had a ridiculous 24-16-10, Evans went for 28-3-5 and both Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas were in the 20s (27 and 25, respectively).

LeBron set the tone. James was locked in early (really hitting the midrange jumper) and he locked down Tyreke Evans late (holding Evans scoreless in overtime). I'm not going to lie, I was kinda concerned with how well he started off. LeBron made 11 field goals in the first half and all but three of them were on jumpers (he was on fire but the offense was somewhat stagnant). When he started off the second half by nailing a 21 footer, I was worried. But the third quarter offense didn't run through LeBron, it ran through Mo Williams.

Williams played really well. Mo was knocked out of the game in the first period after he bumped knees with Evans. He eventually came back and played through it, looking no worse for the wear. But after halftime... wow. Mo scored 21 of his 27 after intermission including 15 in the third period. Williams also had 3 assists and again threw that bounce pass to the slip screener from the top of the arc quite well.

The Cavs weren't always focused but they did a lot of little things well. For much of the game, the Cavalier defenders seemed to be over pursuing the Sacramento players, just running at shooters and scrambling. But once the Cavs tightened the screws, the Kings were out of their comfort zone and rushing their shots (Evans airballed a jumphook). But the Cavs did the things that good team do to win these types of games. When the Kings threw away an inbounds pass with 1 second left in third, the Cavs took advantage (they got an West found Varejao for open jumper in the corner).

Z had a more than solid game. If you didn't have a huge grin on your face for those last five minutes, I don't want you rooting for this team. The big story was obviously his three treys in a scant 117 seconds in overtime, but he was solid throughout. Z finished with 25 points (10-14 FG) and 8 boards in 25 minutes. His bombs in OT finished off the Kings, accounting for the last 9 of the Cavs 13-0 overtime run. Z has made all four of the threes he's attempted this season.

With both Delonte and Parker playing well, Brown may have to choose between Moon and Boobie. West was 2-5 for 4 points, 4 assists and a steal while AP notched 7 points (also 2-5 FG) to go with 3 boards, 3 assists, a steal and a block. On the flip side, Gibson gave the Cavs just 1 board his 12 minutes and Moon didn't even notch that in his 5. As much as I like Boobie's moxie, I'm think Moon can do more things for them on the court (rebound, defend bigger players). Neither is a strong ball handler and a lineup of Williams-West-Moon-LBJ-Andy is a little bit more versatile than that same group with Gibson subbed for Moon. I'm not sure splitting their time is the right move (especially for Moon, it seems like he needs a regular 20 minute a night stint to be effective).

and finally...

Big game on Christmas. LeBron vs Kobe. Lakers vs Cavs. Shaq vs irrelevance. It's a big game for everybody. Playing the defending champs in their building is a strong test for the Cavaliers (who, by the way, are 28-6 since starting 0-2). It's also, for me anyways, a big test for Shaq. If he can prove useful against the likes of Gasol and Bynum, then it calm come of my concerns with the big fella. .