New Orleans 86, Cleveland 76

Way to take advantage of that win in Dallas. The Cavs came out flat offensively, confused defensively and the overall effort was, shall we say, lacking. The Cavs didn’t hit 20 points in three out of the four periods… you aren’t going to win games like that.

This loss goes on the whole team. Ya, people are going to look at LeBron’s final line of 21, 6 and 5 (assists and rebounds, respectively) and conclude that he got no help. Well… kinda. James was extremely passive for the 80% of the game (about the 8 minute mark in the fourth). He didn’t attack the rim, he let the double team come to him and he just didn’t seem… well, interested. Sure, he had 10 points in the final period, but it was a case of ‘too little, too late’ as the Cavs were already down 20 points by the time he turned it on.

Drew Gooden had an awful game. Now, the stats show that Drew was 5-10, with 10 points and boards. So, double-double and 50% shooting… awful game? Yes. Gooden got lost countless times on defense (he bit on practically every David West pump fake) and he made some weird decisions offensively (like trying a reverse lay-up rather than, oh, I dunno, dunking the ball). I’m kind of perplexed that Dwayne Jones didn’t get on the court until the final minute of the game, cause no one stopped West (27 points on 11-17 shooting to go with 15 boards).

Ilgauskas has 12 points at halftime… and 14 for the game. Some of this was Z’s fault, as he rushed shots late in the game, but they weren’t solid possessions overall (no movement, rushed shots, etc). Part of the blame falls on Mike Brown, as he watched Z abuse the New Orleans big men in the first half, only to turn away from the post after halftime.

I have more issues with the coaching. First problem: Drew spaces out and Brown doesn’t do anything (can Varejao play West? Jones?). Second problem: Z lit up the Hornet big men and the Cavs spent the 3rd period hoisting crappy shots. Third problem: set plays after timeouts. With roughly 5 minutes to go, the Cavs had cut the to 82-70 and had the ball following a timeout. This is a big play; they’re on a 9-0 run and they could get the lead down to 10 or possibly single digits. The shot they get after the TO? A 28 foot fade-away 3 from LeBron (AFTER A TIMEOUT!!). Then with about 2 minutes to go, they have possession and call another TO to set things up. Now, at this point I’d figure they’d go for a 3 or at least a quick 2. Nope. Instead they passed the ball around until it landed in Z’s hands on the block… where he waited for people to cut… and waited… and waited… and then he took a terrible hook shot. Awesome.

So, was Larry Hughes mediocre or awful? Awful. 1-9, 2 assists, 1 rebound and a steal. He had two awful possessions back-to-back in the 3rd quarter. The first time he dribbled the ball up the court and took a contested 17 footer with 11 seconds on the shot clock. No passing… nothin’ but Hughes. The next time down, Hughes was pushing the ball… all the way to the hoop… where he jumped and… passed the ball to Z at the last second (who clearly was expecting a shot). Larry, you’ve made your point, you’re not a point guard. We get it. Stop taking it out on the rest of Cleveland.

And Pavlovic, mediocre or awful? Neither really, so let’s go with just plain crappy. He had 7 points (3-7) with 3 boards and 2 assists. To his credit, he hit a 3 and he didn’t pick up any charges (though not for lack of trying…). I don’t know if he doesn’t have legs, his confidence or what… but his jumper was extremely flat.

and finally…

Days off ahead. The Cavs don’t play until Wednesday (when they face Atlanta at home), so it makes perfect sense that they loafed around in the bayou… This wasn’t a real bad loss (I mean, the Hornets are 20-10) but in no way did the Cavs play anything close to “well”. The Cavs face the Hawks and Kings coming up, so they have a chance to rebound from this. I assume there will be some practice time in upcoming days, hopefully the offense will get some work.

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