Now that was a fun game. This contest had basically everything you’d want in a NBA basketball game. Lots of scoring? Check. Some badass dunks? Check (LeBron, Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick all threw down). A guy with a crazy black beard? Check. 3 point bombs? Check (the Cavs were 12-26, Grizzlies 15-30). Super-duper-star taking over? Check (James had 25 in the 4th and OT). Slow, European Goliaths kicking ass in the post? Check (Z had 14 and 8) and check (Pau Gasol had 19 and 12). Lead changes and long runs? Check (The Cavs blew multiple 10 point leads throughout the game). Last second shots? Check (Juan Carlos Navarro hit a 3 with 10 seconds left to send the game into OT). All in all, this was a joy to watch.
This was one of those games where LeBron had energy (and a jumper). James finished with 51 points, 9 assists, 8 boards, 3 steals and a block in 47 minutes. What’s pretty amazing is the fact that James got his 51 points on just 28 shots (making 18). His numbers could’ve been even more ridiculous as he was just 9-16 from the foul line and his teammates could’ve notched him another assist or two in the first half if they knocked down the open looks that he set up. LeBron was just 9-16 from the line… but 6-12 from beyond the arc. Weird.
I really like this Memphis team. The Grizzlies are full of players that I like (and they all had pretty solid games). Pau Gasol’s line was 19-12-5. Mike Conley had 20 points and 7 dimes. Navarro had 26 points and was 6-10 behind the arc. Rudy Gay had a more than solid evening with 30 points and 9 boards. And Hakim Warrick pitched in 9 points. This team is full of solid, if young, players and they should improve in time.
Fox Sports stunk. They found a neat stat (Memphis is 1-9 in games decided by 3 points or less) and just kept hammering the point home. We got it the first 12 times. The video wasn’t much better as we missed a Memphis basket cause apparently we had to see a Drew Gooden block from another angle. Then, during one turnover plagued period, Austin lamented the fact that the Cavs were getting passes intercepted when they were simply passing to their teammates. I get what he was trying to say (the Cavs were turning it over while they were simply moving the ball along the perimeter, not making any tough passes inside) but I just sat there thinking to myself “who are they supposed to be passing the ball to, if not their teammates?” Also, late in the game Carr was chastising Z for not going up for a dunk… when Z got fouled/blocked while going up for a dunk. It boggles the mind… Finally, the less games involving Rudy Gay that Fred McCleod announces, the better… I’ll just leave it at that.
Also, I’m not sure Mark Price wants them to keep mentioning that he tutored Larry Hughes over the offseason. I can’t imagine that helps his reputation as a shooting coach. Hughes was 2-8 for 4 points in 28 minutes. However, he did pitch in 7 boards (though just 1 assist), which was nice (as a team, the Cavs killed the Griz on the boards 47-33).
I thought Mike Brown did a pretty good job. First of all, it seems like the Cavs have settled on a regular rotation and I like it (he’s going with the shooters down the stretch, leaving Hughes and Pavlovic regulated on the bench). Also, Memphis went small to start the second half (they sat Darko and started Navarro) and Coach Mike actually didn’t match. Not only did he keep Ilgauksas in the game, but he actually utilized him as Z had 9 points and 2 assists in the third.
Damon Jones has been playing really really well. He made a comment that he was whining about playing time, so he needed to back it up, but he’s been more than solid coming off the bench and pairing with Daniel Gibson. Jones hit a clutch 3 in OT to put the Cavs on top for good. However, if DJ would’ve made both freebies (to put the Cavs up 4) with 14 seconds left in regulation, he wouldn’t have had to make that 3…
The entire bench was great. Daniel Gibson had 18 points (4-7 from downtown) with 10 of them coming in the second quarter. Anderson Varejao gave the Cavs a nice effort with 11 points and 7 boards (as well as a key flop in OT). Overall, the bench bunch gave the Cavs 45 points on 15-28 shooting.
Oh goody… the Finals ‘rematch’. Who knows, maybe the Cavs will extend their regular season winning streak against the Spurs to 4 games (take that!). I really hope that they don’t suck on national television (as their apt to do) this Thursday in San Antonio. At least the Cavs are coming in playing some of their best ball of the season, as they’ve won 6 of their last 7 (and 8 of their last 10).