Isn’t greatness fun to watch? – Doug Collins. LeBron James. What the fuck? The guy is amazing. James finished with his seventh triple-double of the season, played like god damned beast down the stretch and led the Cavs to yet another victory. After going 1-4 for 4 points in the first half, James finished with 26 points, 11 boards, 10 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. He made play after play down the stretch; James scored the last 6 Cavalier points of regulation (including a ridiculous shot-clock beating fade-a-way), he made a great defensive play to block a Travis Outlaw jumper (instead of following Brandon Roy to the rim after Roy crossed him over, James immediately ran towards to Roy’s outlet, Outlaw, in the corner and got a piece of the shot) and he scored 6 points in the OT (he went inside and showed off some jump hooks and post moves. I love it). The man is the MVP and I can’t believe this is even up for discussion.
The first half… let’s not dwell on this. The Cavs only shot 31%, scored a season low 12 points in the first period and finished with another season low, 34, for the half. But it wasn’t a complete abomination, there were some bright spots; the Blazers shot just 34%, the Cavs had 0 turnovers and managed to only trail by 2 heading into halftime (and Mo missed a trey that would’ve gave ’em the lead).
The Cavs didn’t shoot well, but there were some good moments. The Cavs shot 43% as a team, but non-Joe Smith Cavaliers were just 39% (Joe was 5-5). Neither Delonte West (4-14 FG, 0-3 3pt) or Mo Williams (4-15 FG, 2-9 3pt) shot particularly well, but Williams scored five straight to start the fourth period and West had some nice finishes inside to compensate for his shaky jumper.
The bigs played a key role. Z had a nice all around game with 21 points (8-13 FG) and 5 boards in 29 minutes. Z ran the floor pretty well and LeBron found him multiple times ahead of the defense for easy buckets. The aforementioned Joe Smith was 5-5 from the floor for 12 points and he also pitched in 3 boards and 2 blocks. And Anderson Varejao continued his strong play, scoring 8 points to go along with 9 boards in 32 minutes (Andy has done a fantastic job of rolling to the rim). The Cavs went small quite a bit (Travis Outlaw was a pain to deal with), so we had a lot of instances with James at the 4 with the one legit big playing center.
Brandon Roy ain’t bad. Roy didn’t have his best shooting night, only going 6-16, but he still willed his way to 24 points, 7 boards and 7 assists. He probed the Cavs defense and got himself to the line (in key moments) and finished 11-11 from the stripe (including 4 free throws in the last 30 seconds to send the game into overtime). Roy’s is wearing this wispy, scraggily beard right now and I have to say, I approve. Makes him look like some kind of scrappy assassin.
The bench was serviceable, if not great. Smith had a really solid game and the Cavs got good contributions from both Sasha Pavlovic and Daniel Gibson. Gibson found himself back in the rotation due to Wally Szczerbiak’s knee and used the opportunity to knock down some shots (3-6 FG, 2-4 3pt). I thought Pavlovic played well, despite only finishing with 1 points before fouling out in OT (he somehow picked up 4 fouls in 3 1/2 minutes of OT).
Greg Oden, still raw. The former Buckeye (I’m wearing his OSU jersey as I type this) finished with 7 points, 9 boards and 5 fouls in 12 minutes. He and LeBron had a few moments where James took offensive to Oden’s physicality. Oden is still a just a bit slow (it was just his second game back), he looks like J.J. Hickson did in December- out of position and reaching on defense and rushing everything at the offensive end.
The Cavs had some trouble with Portland’s bigs. Channing Frye had a big first half (10 points) and finished with 14 and 4. Travis Outlaw gave Varejao fits while scoring 11 of his 17 points in th fourth quarter (including a very nice dunk in traffic with about 4 and a half minutes to play). The Cavs eventually moved James out on Outlaw (where he blocked 2 shots and forced a turnover). The Blazers also got a good game from Joel Przybilla. I really like this guy’s game; Pryzbilla finished with 13 points (4-4 FG) and 11 boards in 34 minutes (Barkley said after the game that this guy would be a great sidekick for someone like Wade or James and I couldn’t agree more. He gives you everything you’d want out of a big man).
Go Bucks! Go Vikings! We’ll get to watch some Ohio colleges battle it out in March Madness tonight (both games at 9:40, thanks for that) before the Cavs take the court again. The Cavaliers face the Hawks at 1pm on Saturday and then travel to New Jersey to face the Nets early Sunday evening. The Cavs actually have a home-and-home with the Nets, but they won’t play in Cleveland until Wednesday.