Cleveland 103, Indiana 95

This game should’ve never been this close. The Cavs came out and stomped the Pacers; they led 34-17 after the first quarter and pushed the lead as high as 19 during the following period. But the Pacers came back because their jumpers started to fall and the Cavs offense sputtered (just 17 points in the second quarter). The Cavs had 26 assists on 37 field goals and the outrebounded the Pacers 54-37. Though Indiana got within 4 late in the game, the final outcome was never in any serious jeopardy; the Cavs had a comfortable lead for the bulk of the game (around 13 points) and whenever things got a little dicey, LeBron would do something ridiculous.

I mean, what else can you about James? LeBron had 38 points (11-24 FG), 11 rebounds (4 offensive), 4 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. He was 11-12 from the foul line and is shooting 82% from the stripe over his past five games (he was 11-12 against the Bulls as well). James was 5-8 from behind the arc as well, including a sick step-back trey late in the game.

Joe Smith looks like he’s having fun, no? I swear to God, every time the camera catches Smith, he has a grin on his face. Check out LeBron’s ridiculous reverse dunk to end the first half; Smith catches the ball after it goes through the rim and he’s smiling to himself with this look on his face that says “you have got to be kidding me”. Smith played great against the Pacers, scoring 12 points, grabbing 8 boards (5 offensive) and swatting two shots (the Cavaliers had 9 blocks as team).

Anderson Varejao looked healthy (or he looked ‘kinda healthy’ but was playing against the Pacers). This was the first game since his return that Varejao looked like Varejao. Whatever the reason (being healthy, facing a front line of Dunleavy, Foster and Murphy or a combination of the two), Varejao had a great game. He 16 boards (8 offense) and put up 15 points (5-12 shooting). Varejao also had a career high 6 assists (Austin Carr kept saying that Andy was “just four assists shy of a triple double” like he was close or something. Ya, just 40% left).

Szczerbiak is pressing. Wally looks like he’s giving 110% out there; he’s hustling on defense and he’s going inside on offense… but every time he misses, he seems to get down on himself. Szczerbiak was just 4-14 overall (he missed a few close shots and some good looks rimmed out) but he did go 2-5 from 3pt range. At this point, with the trade and the new baby, I’m not too worried… but in two weeks I could be singing a different tune.

West had a solid game. This is the type of game I’m expect to see from Delonte. He made nice defensive players (3 steals and a block), created some shots for his teammates (6 assists) and rebounded the ball pretty well (4 boards). Offensively, he was 5-8 from the floor and 1-2 from behind the arc (finishing with 14 points). Down the stretch he had a turnover that could’ve proved costly (against a good team) and he coughed the ball up a total of 3 times. He wasn’t spectacular, but he varied his game and was effective at the point (which helped, because Damon Jones was 1-7 and got burned more than a few times on the defensive end).

I like Troy Murphy’s game. I don’t think he’s a great player or anything (and he is way overpaid- owed $33 million over the next three years) but I think he’d be a great fit for a contending team as their fourth option or backup big man (he can shoot, he’s not useless in the post and he’s a tough guy down low). However, his contract pays him like an All-Star, which he certainly is not. Though, if he ever gets bought out, I wouldn’t mind the Cavs taking a stab at him (at a reasonable price). Murphy finished with 17 points and 7 boards.

and finally…

Nice win, now stay inside. Stay off the roads boys, don’t go anywhere until Monday when you face Portland at the Q. The Cavs face the Blazers on Monday then have another back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday in New Jersey and Washington, respectively (is it just me, or have they had a high numbers of back-to-backs this year? Especially with game 2 on the road…). This next isn’t full of gimmes, but it shouldn’t be out of the question to see them go at least 2-1.

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