The score should’ve never been that close. The Cavs were in control for most of the game but they let the Kings hang around. The Cavs would have stretches of good play only to follow them up with dumb mistakes (for instance, the Cavs had a 10 point lead with 46 seconds left in the first half, but some poor defense and a terrible pass later, they went into halftime up only 6, 58-52). At no point did I think the game was actually in doubt, but there’s no reason why LeBron need to log 39 minutes against an injury depleted Sacramento team.
LeBron loves those dagger shots late in the game. This tends to bug me. Too often down the stretch, the Cavs and LeBron settle for the three. During the last two minutes (with the Cavs only up four), LeBron had the only three Cavalier field goal attempts, all of them treys. Now, he made his first one, putting the Cavs up seven and essentially sealing the game, but it’s not exactly good. It’s almost like the Cavs are playing prevent defense; they sit there, running down the shot clock and then chuck a bomb. If it goes in (as it did the first time), great. If it misses, well, at least you took 24 seconds off the clock. But I’m nitting picks here; LeBron finished with 34 points, 7 boards, 8 assists and 3 steals while I’m bitching he could’ve done it slightly better. Heh.
Don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but Zydrunas Ilgauskas returned to the Cavs. The Cavs and Dan Gilbert went all out (take notice, LeBron); Z was introduced separately from the starting lineup, everyone got Z posters and the Q was christened Zwicken Loans arena. Big Z played well, getting 4 points and 6 boards, including the last basket of the first quarter on a (classic) offensive board. I kept hoping they’d get him a three point attempt, but it never materialized. I thought Z played well but you can tell he’s still not quite up to speed with everyone else. There were little things like miscues with some defensive rotations and passes being a little bit off or behind.
Antawn Jamison is sneaky good. Jamison scored 7 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, including a big three to put them up 8 (94-86) with about three and a half minutes to go. Jamison had 9 boards and 2 assists in his 41 minutes. The Cavs got him the ball in the post, especially in the first half and his scoop hook shot is an absolute delight. It’s kinda funky and it’s definitely something they utilize more often.
I’ll be honest, I can’t tell ya what happened in the third quarter. I changed the channel at halftime and I kept watching Tennesee-Michigan State (worst half court shot I’ve ever seen). The Cavs led 58-52 and by the time I tuned back in, the game is tied and Carl Landry is knocking down jump shots.
Cleveland’s energy and focus came and went. For instance, they let Omri Casspi get behind the defense for breakaways a couple of times (Delonte West has gotten beat this way a couple times over the past week). You can tell these guys know there’s only eight games left until the playoffs and they can’t quite get up to face a 24-49 team that’s missing their best player (having Varejao out doesn’t help matters).
Predictably, the defensive intensity picked up in the fourth. The Kings scored just 14 points in the fourth quarter and the Cavs held them to just 6 points over the last seven minutes (just one field goal). However, it’s not like the Cavs were much better, scoring just 19 points themselves in the final period. The offense wasn’t pretty and there was some definite Le-Iso possessions. The Kings, missing Tyreke Evans, just didn’t have the fire power to match baskets with the Cavs down the stretch.
I liked some of Coach Mike’s lineups but I’m still missing Jamario Moon. The Cavs only played eight guys (West, Z and Powe off the bench). At one point, the Cavs had a five of Mo Williams, West, LeBron, Jamison and Z (which I like a lot) and then subbed in J.J. Hickson…. for Mo. Throwing J.J. there pushes Jamison to small forward and LeBron to shooting guard. That’s a big, multi-talented offensive unit. I mean, having the 6-8 LeBron at the 2? Me gusta. However, I’m growing more and more impatient with both Mo Williams and Anthony Parker (they combined to go 1-7 from three and 5-13 overall). I’m already a proponent of having Delonte West on the floor during crunch time, but now I’m not sure who’s spot he should take. It used to be Parker, but Mo let freaking Beno Udrich record a triple double on his watch (18 points, 10 boards and 15 assists. Beno Udrich!). I still don’t see how Moon doesn’t get time, with his size and speed, he can be extremely useful.
Only eight games left, but the next few could be a pain in the ass. The Cavs have the Bucks and Hawks at home this week (Wednesday and Friday, respectively) and then face the Celtics in Boston on Sunday. There’s not too many patsies left on the schedule, as the Cavs finish with Toronto, Chicago, Indiana, Orlando and Atlanta (all teams who could be jockeying for playoff positions).