Well, the first (and early second) quarter was fun. The Cavs had a 10 point lead after the first quarter (32-22) and built it up to 17 early (39-22 at the 8 minute mark) in the second quarter. James had 7 assists in the first quarter (the offense was moving), Bulter and Arenas (1-9 first half) were missing shots but after Mike Miller got hot (8 straight points), the Cavs were left with only a 4 point lead going into halftime (51-47).
Not LeBron’s best game. Sure, his line of 34 points, 9 assists, 2 boards and 2 steals isn’t bad… but only 2 boards? With Shaq and Anderson Varejao missing time? Not good. The Cavs got murdered on the boards (49-34) and they got a combined 4 boards from their starting forwards (J.J. Hickson has a rough 20 minutes of court time). The worst thing that happened was that LeBron made three straight 3s in the middle of the third quarter. LeBron also tried to show up DeShawn Steveson a few times and all it did was stall the offense and lead to terrible shots. James also hurt his wrist on a late game dunk. Great.
Riddle me this. Z had 10 points on 5-7 shooting in the first half. Z finished the game with 10 points on 5-8 shooting. Darnell Jackson had 10 points and 5 boards in the first half, finished with 10 points and 7 boards. And LeBron had 7 assists in the first quarter and finished with 9. Needless the say, the Cavs got away from their game in the second half. Lots of standing around and lots of jump shots.
The Cavs weren’t happy with the refs but some that is their fault. Yes, the Cavs had 11 more fouls than the Wizards (26 vs 15) and Washington shot 20(!) more free throws than Cleveland (35 vs 15). But Washington attacked the basket consistently throughout the entire game. The Cavs went 1-on-5 and chucked up bad jumpers. The more aggressive team will get the calls. Again, the Cavs got out rebounded by 15(!), they obviously weren’t active. You can’t blame the refs for giving up 16 offensive boards. In the Cavs defense, the Wizards got to the line with the smallest of body contact while LeBron gets bearhugged and they call it a jumpball. Refs weren’t great but the Cavs didn’t help themselves by being a step slow on defense and standing around on offese.
Role reversal: the Wizards were healthy, the Cavaliers were not. Antawn Jamison made his season debut and just killed Cleveland. Jamison had 31 and 10 boards and made life for hell for Hickson and Ilgauskas (Jamison is too sophisticated offensively for J.J. and simply too quick for Z). Gilbert Arenas started slow but made some shots in the second half to finish with 18 points, 8 assists and 6 boards while Caron Butler had 19 and 6 rebounds. They got 17-8-6 from Mike Miller and 13 boards from Brenden Haywood. Meanwhile, the Cavs were without Shaq and Varejao (Jamario Moon played on his twisted ankle and scored 10 points with 5 boards).
Non-LeBron Cavaliers didn’t have the best night. Mo Williams was 2-13 (and got killed by Arenas and Earl Boykins), Delonte was 3-7, Anthony Parker was 2-7 and Daniel Gibson was just 0-2. J.J. Hickson only got 4 shot attempts while both Moon and Jackson had 8. The Cavs can’t afford to play flat against anybody but against the Wizards? They actually give a shit against the Cavs.
The game got out of reach at the start of the fourth quarter. With James on the bench, the Wizards took their 3 point lead (75-72) and went on a 12-6 run (87-78) before James came back in with 7:45 to go. However, a few bad jumpers later and Washington’s lead ballooned to 95-78 before James scored his first bucket of the fourth with six minutes to go. So to recap, during the first half of the fourth quarter, the Cavs were outscored 20-8. Once Washington smelled blood this game was toast. They simply wanted the game more. Say it’s the “rivarly”, blame complacency or the injuries or the back-to-back… whatever. The Cavs got outworked and outcoached (the Wizards went small to start the fourth and Mike Brown had Z and Jackson on the court. Not good).
No rest for the weary. The Cavs are in Indiana on Friday night and face the Sixers at home on Saturday to finish out their 4-in-5. They can’t dwell on this crappy game because they got two more fairly tough games coming up.