Friday, December 28, 2007

Cleveland 88, Dallas 81

Two wins in a row, huh? A fan could get used to this. The Cavs snapped their seven game road losing streak by going inside (at one point they had 79 points and 40 of 'em came from inside the paint), playing tough defense (which was helped by the crappy Dallas offense) and taking decent shots down the stretch. This game wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination (both teams shot 36%) but at you could say that the Cavs were steady. They got the Mavericks down and never gave up the lead.

LeBron James did some LeBron James type things. Early in the fourth Dallas had cut the lead to 2 (70-68) and James came right back down the court and nailed a 25 foot fade away 3. It was quite ridiculous. James also had an insane dunk with just over a minute to go that sealed the victory (he broke a few ankles, made his way towards the rim and slammed it home with a ton of force). James didn't shoot particularly well (9-21 FG, 5-10 FT) but he led all scorers with 24 points to go along with 8 boards, 7 assists and 3 steals. LBJ only played 36 minutes but that was due to foul trouble. I really enjoyed the fact that James stayed aggressive even though he kept taking shots from the Mavs (hell, he actually posted up on a regular basis too).

Larry Hughes was mediocre (and that's a good thing). Sure, Hughes still only shot 6-15 (40%!), but to his credit, he did take a lot of good looks (but, on that same token, he missed a lot of good looks- I swear, check out his shot chart on ESPN). Hughes finished with 17 points, 9 boards adn 3 assists. This is all I'm asking for at this point; I don't care if he shoots a poor percentage if he's taking good shots and actually doing other things on the court. Nights like this, win or lose, are much more palpable than his 1-9, 2 boards, 1 assist evenings.

Z played pretty well. The big fella had 18 points, 11 boards and 1 assist (on a nifty bounce pass to Gooden. I've said it before, but the guy can pass when he has the opportunity... you know, cutters and other such things). Z also had two big shots on the fourth quarter (including one where he went glass). It was nice to see Ilgauskas 16 shots (hey, more attempts than Hughes!) and I'm glad the Cavs actually looked toward Big Z throughout the entire game.

Can Devin Brown get Sasha Pavlovic's minutes? Brown is more active, takes better shots, plays more consistent defense and he actually rebounds (on both ends of the floor). Brown got 20 minutes and gave the Cavaliers 7 points (3-7 shooting), 6 boards, an assist (on a great find to Z) and a steal. Meanwhile, Pavlovic continued his recent nightmare, going 1-5 for 2 points and 3 boards. Oh, he also had another charge (this time at least he actually was out of control).

Daniel Gibson played well, but didn't shoot great. Boobie was just 1-6 from behind the arc but the one he made was freaking money (pushed the Cavs lead from 2 to 5 with 4:28 to go). Gibson had 8 points, 3 boards and an assist and he also drew a couple fouls with the Reggie Miller leg kick.

The shot selection was not pretty. Both sides was simply hoisting shots. This game will help out the Cavaliers' defensive stats, but this was ugly. All those terrible shots helped the Cavs win the rebounding battle handily (56-45 overall and 16-6 offensive). At least the Cavs went inside, they dominated the points in the paint (which kills me, they go inside against Dallas, who has two of the better shot blocking centers in Dampier and Diop, but they'll settle for jumpers against the Knicks. Please explain that to me).

Joe Tait is awesome. I was out and about for the first 3 quarters so I heard bits and parts of this on the radio (I also tivo'd so I could see the whole thing- which is why this is late). Tait was in rare form and just seemed so disgusted by some of the Cavs mistakes. Good times. Unfortunately, it seemed that every time we turned the radio on, Ira Newble would check-in soon thereafter. Needless to say, we weren't near a radio for the fourth quarter.

and finally...

Can this be the start of a win streak? Sure, the Cavs have lost 10 of their last 15 but now they're 3 of their last 4 (and 4 of their last 6). Things could be looking up. They're in New Orleans on Saturday to face the Hornets and then they have Atlanta and Sacramento at home the following week. If the Cavs continue to be aggressive at both ends of the floor, I see no reason why they can't put together a nice 4 or 5 game win streak.


Anonymous said...

Did you actually watch the game? If you did I doubt you would be casting aspertions at Ira Newble.He basically in his 8 minutes scared the hell out of Dirk Nowitzki;did a number on his head a la Stephen Jackson did to Dirk in the playoffs.I continue to be shocked how Cavs fans don't realize what a great defender Newble is. He can guard 3 or even 4 positions.While your thinking about that look at Newble's career 3 pt.%;not that far below Damon Jones.When Newble is traded,watch him a little bit with his new Club.If you are able to be objective you might be quite surprised.There is no way Pavlovic should ever see the floor when Newble is on the roster.

Ben said...

Calm down man, it was a joke.

Newble isn't bad, but the Cavs have him playing out of position at the 4.

He did hit a nice baseline jumper that Gibson set him up.

As for Newble stopping Dirk... Dirk was something like 1-9 in first half and late in the game he had Gibson on his hip and settled for a fadeaway (nope, didn't see a minute of game). I'm more than willing to put Dirk's bad night on Dallas, rather than the Cavalier defense (Dirk and co took terrible shots all game long).

I was hoping Newble could bring some defense and toughness to the roster when the Cavs signed him, but instead he fought with Paul Silas. I've heard they're looking to trade him, as he's one of the few expiring contracts on the roster currently. If and when he does get moved, I'll keep my objective eyes peeled.

But hey, at least he went into the game when the coach asked him to.

Ben said...

As for Pavlovic... he sucks right now as well.

The Cavs have a roster filled with guards and they get contributions from about 1.5 of 'em per game.

Anonymous said...

My dream: a point in time when the Cavs are capable of winning aesthetically-pleasing games with ease, and every Cavs win doesn't seem like a meat grinder during which LeBron collects a new collection of bruises and welts. I swear I swallowed my tongue on about three separate occasions watching LeBron's head bounce off hands, elbows and the floor.

I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth, I realize. This was the Cavs' first win in Dallas since 2000. But outside of the win over Indiana a couple of weeks ago, has there been another Cavs win this year that hasn't been a blood-letting?

I know the Cavs win when they play enough defense to win. But does that mean they have corner the market on ugly wins?

Anonymous said...


I really think we'll get those easy wins when we get some guys who consistently can knock down jumpers. We simply do not have many players who can hit open shots at a professional level. If you don't have many options in that area, you're gonna have to grind games out (or hope your superstar goes crazy).

I heard an interesting quote by Brian Colangelo, the Toronto GM, basically saying if you can't shoot the ball well, then he doesn't want you on his team.

As far as Newble goes, gimme a break. He's average, at best, even if he is underused by Brown. I think it says more about our roster than anything else.

Anonymous said...

how low have we sunk when we can actually accept a 6-of-15 night from larry hughes and be satisfied with it??? i'm sorry but that's still not worthy of his exorbitant contract. while boobie gibson may have had an off-night shooting from the field, the fact remains that the threat alone of his outside shooting ability opens up things for lebron and the other cavs far more than what any shots larry takes, regardless if he makes them or not. just look at the plus/minus differential between boobie and larry. boobie had a plus 15 while larry was only a plus 5, which is actually one of the few times he has even been on the positive side of the ledger all season. another observation, is it my imagination or does larry turn into somewhat of a ballhog whenever he's on the court with boobie, especially when lebron is on the bench too??? i'm not sure if i ever saw larry pass it to boobie even one time when they were on the court together. huh, i wonder why??? do you think he doesn't want to get shown up by the more talented youngster??? hmmmmmmmmm, could be??? besides, who would you rather see taking 15 shots, boobie or larry??? that's what is called a "no-brainer". if larry is going to be the point guard for this team, well then he damn well better look to setup his teammates for better open looks first than to just hoist up his own shots for as bad of a shooter as he is. at best he should only have the 5th highest # of shots on this team, not the 2nd or 3rd most like he almost always is. of course, his selfish ego would never allow him to become a true team player and as a result, the cavs never will win a championship as long as he continues to be given such free reign to shoot like he does. personally, i would very much like to see the cavs find some other team (sucker???) to trade him to. either that or just bite the bullet and buy out his contract. at this point, he just doesn't factor in as a piece to a championship-winning puzzle for this team. oh and take _amon _ones with him too!!! hee-hee!!!

Anonymous said...

On a completely unrelated topic, i lost my cell phone AND national city card last night at 2 different locations. I am an ass. That is all.

Anonymous said...

Ben,thanks for your calm,objective response.I have never posted on these blogs because I am actually sort of a League Insider.As for guy saying he's "average" that's fine,if your last 3 or 4 players are at least "average"many Clubs will be happy with that.The thing that bugs me about the CAVS'usage of Newble is this.He is so athletic and strong for his size that he is able to help the Cavs guard some of the Bigs. But what got him in the league in the first place was his ability to guard several positions.He has proved many times over the years he can be a lock-down defender against perimeter guys and I think the Cavs sometimes forget that.You know your stuff so you may recall what he did to Reuben Patterson last March when the CAVS were just letting Patterson steamroll them.Or looking at some old notes take a look at the game on 11-12-02,Ira guarding Kobe,when he was a starter for Atlanta.By far the best defensive performance I have ever seen against Kobe.Kobe himself acknowleged that.You have a nice blog,I came across it by chance. To repeat my previous comment,while the Hughes situation is clear to everyone;the thing that confuses many people is how Pavlovic plays,when you have Newble on the roster.Yes he is a better offensive player than Newble(tho Newble has a tendency to score on some hustle plays and can hit an open 3),but Newble brings so much more to the table.On this team Sasha doesn't get a ton of shots anyway;if Pavlovic somehow gives you a point or two extra offensively; Newble's hustle plays,rebounding and just plain energy level more than compensate. Can almost assure you the Cavs'players agree with this.Take Care

Anonymous said...

Good insight anonymous. I pretty much have come to the same conclusion. Granted Ben and myself have never given Newble props, I thought back to how he has played when given time and I definitely trust him more not to have mental errors as opposed to Sasha. What do you think of the Hughes situation (aside from him taking bad jumpers) If Brown is playing him at PG and is aware that Larry is not comfortable/good at the 1, then isnt it somewhat Browns fault for the lack of productivity? I mean, Larry isnt a good point guard. Thats not his fault, hes just not good at the 1. Dont get me wrong, that doesnt make up for his turnovers and terrible shooting %, but if someone can fill that role better wouldnt it be in the Cavs/Browns best interest to not put him in that position. Also, how long before we start guessing who our Mr. Insider is. Im going to say 2 seconds because Im starting now: Is that you Henry Abbott?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's LeBron.

He'd probably rather be playing with Ira than Hughes or Pavlovic.

Ben said...

Here's the thing with Newble. You bring up a great performance he had against Kobe... in 2002. That was back when LeBron was in high school and Maurice Clarett had a bright future.

I'm not saying discount that, but Ira's been injured since then (his feet and I believe a knee at some point) which can limit his effectiveness on the defensive end (which is why the Cavs signed him in the first place).

As for the Cavs misusing Newble... take a number. How Mike Brown doles out minutes is beyond me. I have a lot of issues with the Cavaliers' rotations and sub patterns.

As far as the league insider goes, Ben, you're off base. I'm 80% sure I know who this is...

Anonymous said...

Very interesting but incorrect comment by Graham;Somewhat because of injuries,which were not major,and Coach Brown not using him much ,Newble's legs are still young and live.Happy New Year

Anonymous said...

Ira is the best defender we have on this team and I question totally what Mike Brown is thinking in his usage of players, all players, including Ira. Mike went to some crazy new offensive playbook he learned in the off-season and our "championship" team has gone down hill ever since. Regardless of who is doing what or who is not doing what, he has the same players as last year but they look pathetic most nights. They certainly don't look like a championship team, let alone a playoff team at this point, and I have to place most of the blame on the coach. You had Ira go in against Utah in November and score 17 points,a nd the very next game he did not play one minute and the cavs lost. I don't understand that whole mentality. Why not put in a player who scored 17 and at least see if he can get some points before you pull him, but to not even give him a chance is ludicrous. I'm a huge Cavs fan, go to at least half of the home games and am very frustrated by what I've see thus far this year.

Ben said...

I'm not too surprised by the Cavs' struggles thus far.

A lot of teams (like the 90's Sun) that get close have a really hard time getting back because of the change in mind-set.

Barkley has talked about this before, but everyone on that 93 Suns team that went to the finals sacrificed a lot to get there. And it worked, but they lost.

The next season guys were holding out and complaining about minutes and such BECAUSE those guys were on a good finals team and they wanted to get compensated for it. Their focuses had changed.

That's where I'm seeing this team. They all sacrificed last season (played defense) and got the finals, now everyone wanted to get recognized for their contributions. I had hoped that their thumping at the hands of the Spurs would keep them hungry, but I guess not...

You bring up a good point about the Utah game. I'm not a big Newble guy, but he deserved some PT after his Utah performance. But Brown does the same thing to Damon Jones and Shannon Brown. Some games they're playing in the first quarter, some games they're DNP-CDs. I don't get it at all.