Look, I’ll be honest, if the Cavs are going to lose (97-96) because a guy just signed to a 10-day contract hits a last second three to win the game, so be it. And to tell ya the truth, the Cavs didn’t deserve to win this game. Had they won, it would’ve been in spite of their bad play (23 turnovers, stagnant offense, missed free throws) and because LeBron went full Video Game James for 3 minutes. Tough loss, but not surprising.
(Plus, if you can’t feel at least a little happy for rookie Sundiata Gaines then you have no soul. The dude hit the game winning shot in his first ever NBA game against one of the best teams in the league. That’s special).
Overall, it was a weird game. While the Cavs held the lead for most of the night, it wasn’t exactly a joy to watch. The third quarter was particularly brutal; Cleveland scored just 13 points while Utah countered with a whopping 15 (it was a combination of good defense and horrendous offense). The Cavs entered the fourth with a 60-55 lead but Utah made a run and with just under four minutes to go, the Jazz led 81-69.
That’s when LeBron took over.
Over the next three minutes, LeBron scored 18 of Cleveland’s next 20 points (Varejao hit two freebies) and the Cavs stormed back to take a six point lead. James was simply nuts. With around a minute to go, he hit back-to-back treys and, after two more freebies, the Cavs held a 91-85 advantage with 32 seconds to play.
How do you squander a six point lead with half a minute to go? Well, the Cavs sure made it look easy. They missed their free throws (AP went 2-4 and Z was 1-2), ran uninspired inbounds plays (nothing to waste the time) and twice they fouled Utah, allowing the Jazz to put points on the board with the clock stopped. Just not good execution down the stretch.
On one had, I’m pissed they lost this game. There’s no excuse for losing a game where you have a six point lead with under a minute to play. Just awful. On the other hand, you can’t really make the case that they deserved to win either; Shaq and Z combined for 6 points (2-8 FG) and 6 boards and their starting guards shot 6-18 (and 2-7 from downtown).
West coast swings are tough, no doubt. This loss hurts but if they can win Saturday night in Los Angeles against the Clippers, they’d end up going 3-2 on their trip. I can live with 3-2.
Cross-posted at LeBrownsTown.com