Again with the blowouts? The Cavs came out a bit sluggish against the Warriors (at one point trailing 15-4) but fought back to trail just 32-29 after one quarter. The Cavs took the lead in the 2nd quarter and never looked back (they went into halftime with a 58-52 lead). Their attack was balanced, LeBron led the charge with 9 second quarter points, while Mo Williams had 8 and Z pitched in 5.
And they looked great in the third period. I don’t know where the crappy third periods went, but I’m glad as hell they’re gone. The Cavs outscored the Warriors by a ridiculous 36-16 in the third period. I loved the fact that they just kept going to Illgauskas, daring the Warriors to stop him- they didn’t. For the period, Z had 10 points off of an array of post moves, Golden State never doubled and the Cavs made them pay.
LeBron James is absolutely ridiculous. LeBron finished with 23 points (9-13 FG), 7 boards, 8 assists, 3 steals and a block in just 30 minutes. He had at least four powerful dunks and only one was off of a play that he initiated. He’s getting a ton of alley-oops and weakside dunks just by moving without the ball (and having competent deliverymen). James finished 3-4 from behind the arc (good) and just 2-4 from the foul line (notsomuch). His free throws don’t bother me all that much, considering he only took four (and that doesn’t bother me either, he went inside enough, the Warriors just let him get dunks).
Z was great. Z went to work at the offensive end, again scoring in double figures (as he has every game) and adding 3 boards and 1 steal. He abused multiple Warrior big men in the post, using a variety of old man post moves on his way to his season high 21 points (9-13 FG) in just 19 minutes of action.
The rebounded was fantastic. Sure, Z only had 3, but that was offset by both Ben Wallace and Wally Szczerbiak(!!) grabbing 9. The Cavs outrebounded the Warriors 52-42 and had 16 offensive boards. Both Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson came off the bench to grab 5 boards apiece.
I love the starting backcourt. Mo Williams had 16 points (6-14 FG, 1-4 3pt) and Delonte West had 13 (4-12 FG, 1-4 3pt) but they did so much more. Williams had a big second quarter with 8 points (he took over briefly while LeBron was on the bench) and West did a great job guarding Warriors guard, and general crazy person, Stephen Jackson. West gave up 5 inches, but held Jackson to just 2-11 shooting. Both guys stuffed the stat sheet; Williams finished with 4 assists, 2 rebounds, a steal and a block while West netted 5 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block. I’ll be honest, I did not expect these two to compliment each other so well.
I can’t say enough about the job Ben Wallace has done. Is it weird that I really love how he rotates on defense? Not only is Wallace playing well on defense, he’s making it easier on guys like Z and LeBron to stay out of foul trouble, simply by being where he’s supposed to be (ya, I don’t miss Drew Gooden). Wallace was also great on the offensive glass, getting the Cavs some extra possessions with his 5 offensive boards.
Wally has found his shot, Boobie hasn’t. Szczerbiak was lights out again, shooting 4-7 from the floor and hitting 1-2 from long range (he finished oh-so-close to a double-double, going 9 and 9). Gibson’s shot started to look better (especially when he hit two treys to start the fourth quarter), but it’s not quite there yet. Boobie finished with 16 points on 6-14 shooting, but was a lousy 2-8 from 3pt range. This team will be even tougher to handle if they can get both Wally and Boobie knocking down shots at the same time.
Remember, remember this month of November. If the Cavs can pull out a win Saturday night against a 7-11 Bucks team (in Milwaukee), they’ll have their best November in franchise history, going 14-3 (with a 8-game win streak and a 4-in-5 sweep). They should be in pretty good shape on Saturday; LeBron has only averaged about 25 minutes over the last 3 games as Mike Brown has been able to keep his starters fresh due to the blowouts. Again, the schedule makers were somewhat favorable (they haven’t faced a ton of good teams, especially at home) but they’ve been beating the bad teams soundly (like they should be).