The Philadelphia 76ers came into the
game with momentum following their double-overtime victory against the
Cavs on Wednesday night. They were up by 17 points at the half.
Nothing that the Cavs were doing on offense or on defense was working.
LeBron James was sitting on the bench in a brilliant suit, nursing a
Yep, the Cavs had the Sixers right where
they wanted them.
The Cavs stormed back into the game in
the second half and prevailed over the Sixers by a score of 105-97.
Drew Gooden led the LeBron-less Cavs with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Donyell Marshall scored 17 points, and Larry Hughes added 16.
Andre Iguodala led the Sixers (who appropriately enough had six players
in double digits) with 22 points.
Let’s just blow right past the unfortunate
events of the first half (except to mention that Philly had runs of
14-2, 10-0, and 16-6) and start our game report at the beginning of
the third quarter. That approach harmonizes with the Cavs’ game,
since that’s about the time when they showed up too.
In the first few minutes of the third
quarter, the Cavs cut the 60-43 lead to 65-58. Zydrunas Ilgauskas
hit a jumper, then Eric Snow made a shot, then a tip-in by Ilgauskas,
then a jumper by Hughes, followed by a Gooden three-point play, and capped
by a driving left-handed dunk by Hughes. Philly temporarily pushed
the lead back into double digits (we’ll talk more about that later),
but the Cavs finished the quarter strong, with Marshall hitting a three-pointer,
Hughes slamming home another dunk, Damon Jones turning on the three-point
faucet twice, and finally with Anderson Varejao getting a layup on a
nice pass from Daniel Gibson. The flurry cut the Sixers’ lead
to seven points, at 79-72.
Gibson provided the major spark in the
fourth quarter, scoring all 11 of his points during the period and playing
in-your-face defense on the Sixers’ Kyle Korver. Marshall also
added nine points during the quarter. The Cavs went with a very
small lineup during much of the final frame (with Gibson, David Wesley,
and Damon Jones all on the floor at the same time), and were able to
pressure the Sixers into four turnovers and several missed shots.
Cleveland took the lead for good at 95-94 with 1:18 remaining when Marshall
tipped in a missed shot by Gooden, and then put the game away with several
free throws in the final minute.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE GAME:
Quod Me Nutrit, Me Destruit:
It’s not just ink on Angelina Jolie’s runway any more. (With that lead-in, we will
set some kind of record for most-clicked link for any article on this
site. Relax; it’s a PG-13 picture at best.) The Cavs are
now 7-2 when they are without LeBron James. Without LeBron to
bail them out, the Cavs resorted to … moving around on offense, not
standing around with the ball, and working the ball into the post.
They shot 50% from the field for the game, the best they’ve done in
quite some time. Of course I am not saying that LeBron holds this
team back; don’t be silly. But when he is not around, the team
responds with more energy and with more guys stepping up to get the
job done. Hey, Coach Mike Brown, is there maybe a way to put the
Score Another Reverse Hex:
In my review of the Wednesday night game against the Sixers,
I suggested that it was time to be “very concerned” about Donyell
Marshall. That was apparently all the motivation that Marshall needed
to put out an impressive 17-point, 9-rebound performance. (I
also think that I am responsible for red lights turning green when I
blink.) He was one of the few bright spots in the first half
for the Cavs, as he was consistently posting up his man and then getting
While we’re at it, let’s also give
props to Damon Jones, who scored 15 points (yes, that means he hit five
three-pointers) and was part of the Cavs’ tougher defense in the fourth
quarter. He rebounded nicely from his 0-for-whatever it was performance
Mister Gibson To You: Continuing the plaudits for the bench
brigade, we need to recognize Gibson for his terrific performance when
the game was on the line. Gibson was given the chance to really
run the offense in the fourth quarter, and he looked like Steve Nash
Junior. Time and again, he drove to the hoop, and his moves led
to (a) layups for himself or (b) passes to open teammates after the
defense collapsed on him. He also buried a three-pointer with
just over three minutes remaining.
Makes The Game Easier, Doesn’t It?:
The Cavs did not have a great game from the free-throw line, shooting
72% overall (18 of 25). But they hit the free throws when they
really counted, in the final minute when Philadelphia turned to the
Hack-a-Cav strategy. All four of the Cavs who went to the line
(Gibson, Gooden, David Wesley, and Marshall) hit a pair of free throws,
and those eight points provided the margin of victory. Nice to
see some ice water traveling through the Cavs’ veins in that final
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT THE GAME:
Not Consistent In Principles, Conduct,
Etc.: That’s how the dictionary defines “inconsistent”.
I have deliberately avoided discussing the first half of the game at
any length because … God, it was ugly. As good as the Cavs were
in the second half (when they outscored the Sixers 62-37), they were
equally as inept in the first half. The Sixers scored 38 points
in the first quarter alone, a season high for them. They shot
81% during that quarter. They were getting fast break after
fast break. Coach Brown looked like he was ready to hurl into
his little spit-cup. TVs shut off all over the Greater Cleveland
area. I actually chose to clean the cat box instead of watch the
waning minutes of the second quarter. (To those readers expecting
a blow-by-blow description of the end of the second quarter, I apologize.
I will say that it’s probably best for your blood pressure.)
Overdue For A Change: I
have hit my limit. I cannot watch Eric Snow attempt to guide this
team any longer. I do not care about his supposed “defensive
presence” (where was it during that first quarter, when Philly sprinted
to a 22-7 lead during Snow’s time on the floor?). I do not care
about his “veteran leadership”.
As the point guard, Snow is supposed
to get the Cavs into their offense. Instead, he does one of three
1. He walks the ball up court with
the speed of a condemned man being led to Old Betsy. He finally
gets to the front court with about 15 seconds remaining on the shot
clock, passes the ball to another player on the perimeter, and enters
the Witness Protection Program (hey, that could be a nice tie-in with
the LeBron/Nike marketing push!) for the rest of the possession;
2. He drives the ball up court
on the break, gets into the lane, then veers towards the sideline in
much the same way that my four-year-old will steer his remote-controlled
car. After setting up camp outside the three-point line, he’ll
pass to another player on the perimeter, and enters the Witness Protection
Program for the rest of the possession;
3. Same as #2, except the opposition
defense has parted like the Red Sea. On that great occasion, Snow
will drive it to the hoop.
I actually do not enjoy picking on Snow.
I think there is a role for him on this team – as a 10-15 minute per
night bench player and defensive presence. But especially after
last night, when the ineptitude of the team when Snow was playing point
clashed so vividly against the offensive flow when Gibson was in the
game, the need to sit Snow and start Gibson is clear. Not saying
that it will happen; just that it should.
Here’s Where The Cat Got Sore Ribs:
About halfway through the third quarter, the Cavs had cut what was a
17 point halftime deficit down to eight points. Philadelphia was
on the ropes. (I’m going to use every boxing/”Rocky”
reference that I can. It is Philadelphia, after all.)
Ilgauskas fouled Iguodala, sending the Sixers’ talented swingman to
the free throw line. From there, the following sequence of events
I came oh-so-close to writing “Game
Over” in my notebook (and came even closer after Iguodala stole an
errant Hughes pass on the next possession, leading to a pair of free
throws that he made this time).
Speaking Of Larry: Is he
good for one boneheaded turnover a game, or what? The other night,
we saw him dribble a ball off his ankle in the final minute of overtime,
effectively putting out whatever flame the Cavs still had flickering.
This time, it was an aborted drive into traffic with two minutes remaining
and the Cavs up by one. Korver stole the ball, and it led to a
Philadelphia fast break at the other end. C’mon, Larry, treat
the ball like it’s one of your children. Sleeping with a football
under his arm worked for LaDainian Tomlinson; maybe Hughes ought to
go to bed with his … well, you get the point.
WHAT LIES AHEAD: