The good new: Donyell Marshall didn’t start. The bad news: Eric Snow did. The Cavs started Snow at point guard and Ira Newble at power forward, so ya, they’re feeling these injuries. Also, late in the game Larry Hughes stubbed his foot, so expect him to be out 6 weeks or so.
The Cavs had the lead for the bulk of the game. They trailed by 1 after the first period, but then they built and maintained a double digit lead until the Hawks started the fourth quarter on a 16-5 run (in which Josh Smith was heavily involved). After that, they traded baskets for a few minutes and then the Cavs took a lead with 4 minutes left that they never relinquished.
LeBron was pretty awesome. LBJ didn’t have a ton of points, ‘just’ 26, but he made a lot of key plays down the stretch (he pulled down some clutch rebounds and made a great full court pass to Newble to put the game away). In addition to his 26 points, James had 11 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals and a block (he also made all four of his free throw attempts). James also forced Joe Johnson into a key miss with 21 seconds left.
The vets stepped up. Eric Snow defended Joe Johnson pretty well and he also gave the Cavs 5 assists and 5 steals (though he also missed 3 layups). Damon Jones had 13 points on 5-9 shooting (3-5 from 3) and also gave the Cavs 3 assists and 2 boards. Ira Newble was the best of the unsung bunch; scoring 18 points on 8-12 shooting (2-3 from 3), grabbing 8 boards and notching 2 steals and an assist. This was the second game of a back-to-back and they sucked it up and bounced back from Thursday’s loss in Houston.
Speaking of veterans, Z had a solid game. Z had 17 points on 8-13 shooting, 11 boards and 4 blocks (which I’m pretty sure were all against Al Horford). Z had good game on the offensive glass, notching 7 offensive boards. After getting trounced on the glass against the Rockets, the Cavs outrebounded the Hawks 45-39 (I think this says more about the Rockets and Hawks than it does the Cavs at this point- however, the Cavs did have better energy Friday night).
Austin Carr learned a new phrase: “timely basket”. And boy, he was proud; he showed that baby off roughly 44 times throughout the night. We get it, they need to score baskets to stop Atlanta runs. Anything else? Timely baskets? Yup, we’ve been over that, that all you got? Yes, I’ve heard about timely baskets… (and so on). Don’t get me wrong, ‘timely baskets’ wasn’t the only dumb thing Austin said, but he said it some much, that consequently, I have it stuck in my head. Consequently. Timely baskets. L-Train. Kill me.
Larry Hughes had one of those “not bad, but not good either” type games. Larry started out shooting 4-7 in the first half and had 12 points at half. Good. He finished the game with 15 points, 7 boards and 2 assists. Not bad. He was 1-9 in the second half and missed 2 key free throws. Awful. To his credit, Hughes attacked the rim and got to the line (6 FTA) but after his hot start, he just kept shooting… and shooting… and shooting…
The Hawks have a few nice swingmen. Joe Johnson put up 23 points, 8 assists and 6 boards but also 8 turnovers (thanks Eric Snow!). Marvin Williams had a kinda quiet 21 points (and gave them nothing else except 5 boards). Josh Smith blocked ‘only’ 3 shots (after having 17 over his last 3 games) to go along with 15 points, 8 boards and 5 assists.
Tyron Lue didn’t destroy the Cavs. He wasn’t awful, 9 points on 3-9 shooting, but he didn’t have nearly the impact he’s had in the past. Lue did play more minutes (29) than the starter, Anthony Johnson (18). For some reason, rookie point guard Acie Law only saw a minute of court time. Lue is one of point guards that the Cavs could trade for and he’s probably the one I’d like them to get (for the right price).
Is the All-Star break here yet? With five guys already out with injuries, Larry Hughes went and got himself hurt. Not only does this put a lot pressure on the remaining healthy Cavaliers, this could also screw with some of the trades that Ferry wasn’t going to make. I don’t know if there’s ever a ‘good’ time to have a rash of injuries, but getting the injury bug around the trade deadline stinks. The Cavs face the Nuggets in Cleveland on Sunday and then travel to Orlando to face the Magic on Monday. Oh, and after that they face San Antonio on Wednesday. Get healthy soon guys.