*Yawn* Ho hum, setting franchise record for victories in a season. The Cavs kinda slept walked through their 58th victory of the season, beating the Nets 98-87. The Cavaliers had a nice first half; they jumped out to a big early lead (22-10), they had 16 assists on their first 17 field goals and they were simply manhandling the Nets. However, they let their foot off the gas; the Cavs only led by 4 at halftime and eventually let the Nets take an 82-81 with just under 4 minutes to go. Then LeBron & Co. put their collective foot down and overpowered New Jersey to walk away by a comfortable margin (a nice 17-5 run to close the game).
LeBron was LeBron (in depth commentary, I know). James was content to set up his teammates (most notably Anderson Varejao), netting 11 assists to go along with his 22 points and 8 boards. I really loved the fact that down the stretch, James would set up on the high post, about 17 feet out, and he really picked apart the defense. I like these little trends coming down the stretch, using the high post to run the offense and attacking off the block (in the Portland game). These are good signs. (I also love when James just feeds off the crowd. The Cavs were sleep walking through the third when Z blocked Yi (stirring the crowd from their slumber) leading to a Cavs break where LeBron hoisted a trey that sent the whole building on fire).
The starters all played well. Mo, Z and Varejao all finished with 16 points. I love when Z gets to face inexperienced big men (like Brook Lopez, Yi and Josh Boone) because Z can just out-think them and get whatever he wants offensively (Yi is especially terrible defensively). Mo had a nice all around game with 16 points, 6 boards and 6 assists (though at times, Mo and Boobie made Keyon Dooling look like a young Penny Hardaway). Anderson made a killing on back door dunks and layups from LeBron (Wild Thing had 11 boards to go with his 16 points). And while Delonte West didn’t finish with 16 (just 13) he did grab 9 boards and shoot 3-4 from downtown (including some clutch bombs in the fourth).
So overall, a nice, well rounded offensive effort (kinda). The starters scored 83 of their 98 points (and 48 of their 54 in the second half). The bench bigs were pretty solid. Joe Smith had a nice little game with 6 points and 4 boards and I liked what I saw from Darnell Jackson (though I’m still not sold on him getting playing time ahead of Hickson); Jackson ran the floor well, knocked down open jumpers and grabbed 3 boards in 11 minutes. He’s solid. Meanwhile, Sasha Pavlovic went scoreless in 17 minutes (but he did grab 2 boards, block 2 shots and notch an assist, so at least they weren’t totally empty minutes) and Boobie had 3 points and 3 turnovers in 22 minutes. Hopefully these guys can find their rhythm over these next couple weeks (I’d hope we’d see the starters get some rest down the stretch).
I’d like to tip my cap to the Q’s sound guy. There was a stoppage of play during the second quarter when a paper airplane floated onto the court. So there’s a couple minutes where the refs are figuring out the clock situation and what have you and the Q starts playing the intro to M.I.A.’s Paper Planes. Well done sir. I’m all for The Q playing songs with lyrics like “I fly like paper, get high like planes.” Where’s Scot Pollard when you need him?
This LeBron character is pretty good. LeBron became the only player besides Oscar Robertson to score 2,000 points, grab 500 boards and dish out 500 assists in the same season four times. Jordan did it twice and Bird three times. The Cavs face the Timberwolves on Friday evening and then have a afternoon date with the Mavericks Sunday on ABC. They’ll face Detroit next Tuesday at the Q before heading out on the road to begin April, with a back-to-back next Thursday and Friday in Washington and Orlando, respectively.