No West, no problem. With West sitting out with a sore wrist (“just a precaution”), Tarence Kinsey started and the Cavs didn’t miss a beat (though for some reason they kept throwing TK lobs). This was simply a great basketball team picking on a young one. The Cavs had no trouble dispatching the Grizzlies. The ball movement was fantastic (13 assists on 15 baskets in the first half- when the game mattered), the defensive rotation was top notch (the Cavs had 9 team blocks) and the bench stepped up (22 points in the first half).
LeBron was barely even needed. The King had 15 points, 8 assists and 5 boards in just 30 minutes. This is exactly the type of game you want before a tough 4-in-5 stretch. LeBron’s defense was great (Rudy Gay was 6-14) and his offense was efficient (his jump stop has been freaking fantastic lately- maybe that crab-dribble nonsense woke him up). Not only did LeBron have a short night, both Z and Ben Wallace didn’t even hit the 20 minute mark.
Daniel Gibson led everyone in scoring. Boobie had 19 points off the bench and for the most part, looked pretty good. Gibson was 3-7 from downtown and 8-14 overall. He needs to have more of these type games if he wants to be in the playoff rotation. The Cavs could really use his shooting but they can’t afford to have him trying to beat his man off the dribble- that’s not his game (and his defense is subpar).
J.J. Hickson had a real nice ballgame. After barely playing against the Pistons, Hickson put up a very nice first half (6 and 6) and finished just one board shy of a double-double with 10 and 9. Hickson ran the floor well, defended well (got himself a block), hit the face up J and even made all four of his freebies. J.J. bounced back well after not getting any non-garbage time minutes against Detroit; he’s not gonna get many playoff minutes but he should be able to step in for a couple minutes if they have foul trouble.
Hey look, Mike Conley. The former Buckeye had 12 points and 7 assists and I thought he ran Memphis’s offense pretty well. Conley also surprised me by hitting 3 of 5 from downtown. I know he’s had some rough stretches, but I really liked him at OSU (totally unbiased!) and I was pleased by his feistyness against the Cavs.
Mo was solid and Z was OK. Z’s shot wasn’t falling (just 2-8 FG) but he did finished with 9 points and 8 boards. Marc Gasol did as well as anyone I’ve seen in keeping Z from his comfort zones. Meanwhile, Williams knocked down 6-12 FG for 18 points (3-5 from downtown) and dished out 6 assists. Williams led all Cavaliers in minutes with 34 minutes (again, as good of a game as you could’ve hoped for right before a 4-in-5).
On the road again. Thursday night in Houston, Friday night in San Antonio, Sunday night in Atlanta and Monday in Miami. That’s a rough stretch. I’ll be honest, I may not get to catch all of it. I’m going down to Columbus (college stomping grounds) this weekend for my birthday (which is my excuse for why this recap was so late in the day), there should be some tivo invovled, so hopefully I’ll catch most of the games.