This game is all about the bench. The Cavaliers bench outscored their Sacramento counterparts 31-17. The Cavs had only three bench players score, but they all put up double figures. Boobie and Devin Brown each had 13 points and Anderson Varejao pitched in 11. All three guys played with a ton of energy (which really woke up the crowd) and they also came in with that apparent rare ability to make shots (and Gibson a big one to put the Cavs up 4 with 11 seconds left).
LeBron saved the Cavs from a horrendous start (instead it was just ‘barely watchable’). LeBron scored 13 of the Cavs 21 first quarter points (and I was shocked they even broke 20, they had 13 with 1:15 left). James attacked the hoop and gave the Cavs a much (much much much) needed energy boost early on. James finished with 24 points, 10 assists, 8 boards and 5 steals. This was one of his better games (stats and energywise) since he returned from injury. This was one of those games where James was aggressive; he actively looked to post up and he ended up taking 12 free throws (making 9).
Neither Pavlovic or Hughes shot the ball well. Hughes was 2-11 while Sasha was 4-11. Pavlovic at least grabbed some rebounds (6) and attacked the rim (though I’m not sure if missing close range shots works for or against him… but at least he tried to do something). Either way, neither guy looked comfortable but I’d say Pavlovic at least had something to build on.
Give Mike Brown credit, he kept with a lineup that was working. In the fourth quarter, the Cavs began to click with a lineup of Gibson, Brown, James, Varejao and Ilgauskas (one could argue that this should be the starting five… could argue…) and Brown rode them til the end (well, almost, for some reason Pavlovic replaced Z on the Kings final possession(??)). Brown actually does this fairly well from time to time (sticking with a lineup that works) and I wished he’d ride the hot hand (or hands) more often.
I still hate Mikki Moore. I don’t care what team he’s on, he’s always annoying. Him and Pavlovic had a couple of rough run ins throughout the game (which I assume is a carry over from last year).
Z bounced back with a decent game. After barely making a dent in the Hawks game Wednesday night, Z played a very active game against the Kings, scoring 14 points and grabbing 15 boards. He didn’t shoot particularly well (a Larry Hughes-esque 4-15) but it wasn’t like he was taking bad shots or forcing things, his jumper simply wasn’t falling (and neither were his tap ins). Z also had a nifty pass from the post to a cutting LeBron (for a 3 point play) which should make some nightly highlight reels.
Odds vs Evens. The Cavs first and third quarters were terrible; there was little to no energy, there was terrible shot selection and even worse defense. The crowd was booing (I mean, Larry Hughes turned the ball over by stepping inbounds… while inbounding) and the team looked rather abysmal. However, the second and fourth quarters were practically inspirational. Varejao, Brown and Gibson actually played with passion and their played ignited the crowd (and, to a certain extent, LeBron). LeBron took advantage of his active teammates by sitting back and distributing the ball (only 5 points in the second half). He didn’t exactly ‘let the game come to him’, but at least he started looking to pass after he scored a ton of points (and it sure helped that his teammates moved without the ball).
Hey… wasn’t that guy cut by somebody? Beno Udrih looked very much like starting point guard on his way to scoring 11 points (just 5-12, but he did miss a few point blank layups. Like Pavlovic, I’m not sure if this a point for or against him) and dishing out 9 assists. Udrih looked very (very very) quick with the ball and I was really impressed with some of his passes (they seemed to hit players right in the hands. Weird).
Keep ’em coming. This game wasn’t the prettiest (the first and third quarters) but it wasn’t the ugliest either (thanks to the second and fourth). They’ve won 4 of 5 and they’re only a game out of .500 (16-17). They travel to Toronto for a matinée game against the Raptors on Sunday and they follow with games against the Sonics, @Hawks, Bobcats and @Grizzlies. Another 4 out of 5 isn’t out of the question (and 3 of 5 is a must).