Suck. On. This. LeBron came into Madison Square Garden and followed up Kobe’s 61 by dropping a ridiculous 52 points, 11 assists, 10 boards and 2 blocks. He was 17-33 from the floor (he was feeling the jumper), 16-19 from the line and just 2-7 from behind the arc. He abused every Knick that tried to guard him and he was just as good on the defensive end; he challenged the passing lanes and defended the rim. LeBron isn’t the pure scorer Kobe is, but he put on just as masterful of a performance, showing off his all-around game (perfect example, he ended the first half by zipping a cross-court pass to Ben Wallace for an easy layup as time expired. Most superstars take a 30 footer).
The Cavs actually needed LeBron’s scoring, as both Z and Mo weren’t hitting shots. Ilgauskas doesn’t seem to have a good rythm at the moment, finishing just 5-13 from the floor and 4-6 from the stripe. Z ended up with 15 points and 8 boards (he also hit another corner trey). Mo’s shot wasn’t falling either, finished just 3-12 from the floor with 9 points, 4 boards and just 2 assists. Both guys had some nice moments, but couldn’t get any extended runs going.
The role players played their roles. How Ben Wallace was only credited with a single board is beyond me. As Austin Carr noted, Ben sure gets his hands on a lot of balls. And it’s true. Wallace tipped numerous rebounds to his teammates for extended possessions. Both Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak stepped up as well. Wally continued his recent strong play by netting 15 points (5-9 FG, 2-5 3PT) and grabbing a man-size 13 rebounds (he’s working really hard out there, I’m almost sorry to see him get traded. He’s stepped it up and has been a pro. I bet he really wants to get bought out and spend the month of March with his family). And Boobie did what Boobie does: shoot the ball. Gibson had 11 points and was 3-6 from behind the arc (4-8 overall).
Give the Knicks credit, they fought back. The Cavs absolutely burried New York in the first period. They scored the first 10 points of the period and led 36-24 at the quarter break. They got a little bit lazy in the second period, settling for a lot of jumpers and letting the Knicks dictate the pace of the game. Al Harrington had 14 points in the quarter and had a nice night overall, finishing with 39 points and 13 boards (note: 0 assists). I’ve always liked Harrington’s game and always thought he could be a nice 3rd option on a good team. This isn’t a good team (and even though the Knicks went ahead at one point, they never seemed to have any control).
Varejao needs to get used to coming off the bench again. Since Z’s return against the Clippers, Varejao’s numbers have taken a plunge. Andy’s numbers the last four games look like this: 2-9 FG, 20 rebounds and 9 points. He didn’t attempt a single shot against the Knicks. This team will be even better once Z and Varejao get used to things.
The Cavs get some days off. Their next game is this coming Sunday, at home, against the Lakers. The shoe is on the other foot now, as the Lakers are missing their starting center while having to travel to the Q. As for the Knicks… well, after dealing with Kobe and LeBron, they get to face the Celtics on Friday night. Fantastic. After the Laker game, the Cavs won’t play again til next Tuesday when they start a back-to-back in Indiana followed by the Suns in Cleveland.