Not the most exciting of wins. Last year’s Cavaliers would’ve pounded these Nets by 20+ points and LeBron wouldn’t have played the entire fourth quarter. Last night’s Cavs let Brook Lopez notch a 20-10 in the first half and played down to their opponent; they were never in danger of actually losing the game but the Nets were within single digits for the entire fourth quarter.
The Cavs centers played well… kinda. Again, Brook Lopez had 20 points and 10 boards in the first half (he drew a ton of fouls on Shaq and Varejao) but O’Neal and Ilgauskas both finished with 16 points and 5 boards (both were 7-9 from the floor too). Varejao played just 19 minutes due to foul trouble, so that meant Darnell Jackson got some playing time (he actually got more time than J.J. Hickson) and gave the Cavs 1 board in 13 minutes.
LeBron had an average (for him) night. James went 9-19 (1-5 from downtown), scored 23 points to go along with 6 boards, 7 assists and a whopping 6 turnovers. The Cavs simply weren’t focused. My favorite from LeBron was when he got in Devin Harris’s face after his flagrant foul on Jamario Moon (all set up by a Shaq steal).
The Nets scored fairly easily. Well, certain Nets. Devin Harris had 22, the aforementioned Lopez had 22 and Rafer Alston poured in 20 off the bench. Hmm… two quick point guards and a center had their way. Not exactly encouraging news (I don’t know if Williams is worse defensively or what but they’re having problems defending quick point guards). Yes, as a team the Cavs held New Jersey to 39% shooting but that doesn’t mean a whole lot when you allow them to grab 15 offensive boards (to Cleveland’s 8). Those offensive boards (particularly Josh Boone’s 3) were a main reason why Hickson didn’t get off the pine, but it wasn’t like he was the only one screwing up (Lopez had 5, Trenton Hassell (!) had 4 and even Eduardo Najera pitched in 2).
No Delonte but Boobie returned. West was out due to being Delonte West and Daniel Gibson came back and continued his solid shooting. Gibson scored 8 points on 2-5 shooting and got himself to the stripe four times (making all of ’em). He only shot one trey (missed it) but I liked the energy he gave the Cavs off the bench. I’m still not enamored with his game but he’s effective out there, hitting pull-ups off the dribble and using his outside threat to drive and get to the line.
In Philly tonight. The Cavs face the Sixers and then are back in Cleveland to face the Bucks before they head out on their West Coast Christmas trip. You’d like if both of these games end up in the win column but the Cavs are eventually going to give away a game or two by playing like this (turning their intensity on and off).