it seven in a row for the Cavs, as they steamrolled the Memphis Grizzlies,
118-96, last night at the FedEx Forum.
game was not nearly as close as the final score would have you believe.
Memphis did take a three point lead (at 11-8) early in the first quarter;
that was as good as it got for the NBA’s worst team (who came into
the game with a 16-49 record). A 20-4 Cleveland run extinguished
whatever faint hopes the Grizzlies possessed, and the rout was on.
Cavs led by 11 (62-51) at halftime, then put the game away for good
by outscoring Memphis 35-12 in the third quarter. Cleveland led
by as many as 36 points before putting in the Human Victory Cigars (yes,
David Wesley and Damon Jones, that is what you have become) and giving
the starters an extended rest.
James, showing absolutely no ill effects from the back spasms that sidelined
him the previous night against Sacramento, scored 29 points (in only
29 minutes of playing time) to lead the way. Zydrunas Ilgauskas
was also a very efficient scorer, notching 18 points in 22 minutes of
action. Overall, seven Cavs scored in double digits. Rookie
Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 24 points, and Pau Gasol (who looks as though he would be more at home in
a Geico commercial) put down the roast duck
… with the mango salsa long enough to put up 23 points and 10
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE GAME:
Just Getting To The Starting
Line: I was lucky that I even watched the game last night.
The other day, the Barbie machine came out with its latest
dose of crack for little girls DVD movie, Barbie Fairytopia:
Magic of the Rainbow.
My daughter, keenly aware of the imminent release of this movie, had
been wheedling us for weeks to buy it. Daddy?
Barbie Fa-wey-topia Mageec Rainbow out?, she would ask hopefully.
We’d explain to her that the movie was not yet available. In
her three-year-old mind, this explanation would resonate for all of
0.6 seconds, and then she’d ask again. Daddy? They
have Barbie Fa-wey-topia at Target? (Target, you see, has everything
in the world that a child could ever want. Toys, games, answers
to life’s deepest questions … they can all be found at the house
of the red bullseye.)
the Barbie masterminds released the movie earlier this week. I
bought it for her yesterday (had I waited any longer, then Children’s
Services technically could have removed her from our home for neglect;
the fact that we were traveling on Tuesday and could not buy the movie
any earlier would not have been a defense). Since then, she has
been a zombie in front of the TV. Most days, she cannot put her
underpants on correctly; but she sure knows how to hit “Play” on
the remote control.
of you without small children are reading these paragraphs with a
what the hell is he talking about? look. Those of you with
small children are nodding knowingly, appreciative that I was able to
get anywhere close to the TV to see the game.
Excuses? We Don’t Need
No Stinkin’ Excuses: The fourth game in five nights.
The second game of a back-to-back. A road game. A game in
which the Cavs were already without one starter (Daniel Gibson, although
he has pretty much been Wally Pipped by Larry Hughes’ emergence at
point guard) and looked as though they could be without their superstar.
of these facts (most of which have conveniently been expressed as sentence
fragments) can and have been used as excuses for shoddy play earlier
this season. Last night, none of it mattered. The Cavs played
with very fresh legs, never standing around on offense, and being particularly
active on defense.
of the markers in the Cavs’ development has been their capacity to
put away a lesser opponent, instead of playing down to the level of
said lesser opponent and making a game out of what should be a reasonably
comfortable victory. (I know, I know. Every team can
win on any given night; no sure victories on the schedule; blah blah
blah.) Earlier in the season, the Cavs would have struggled
for about three quarters and eight minutes, then put together enough
of a run to escape with the victory. Now, they are beating these
teams by 20 or more points. It may not make for compelling fourth
quarter viewing, but it is what a good team does.
The LeBron Control-The-Game-O-Meter:
Not that the outcome was really in doubt, but LeBron took the game over
in the waning minutes of the third quarter:
With that, what had been a 23
point Cavalier lead (again, it’s not like this streak made the difference
in the game) was suddenly a 33 point Cavalier lead.
Look! It’s An Open
Teammate!: Ever since Hughes became the starting point guard,
the entire team has shown a willingness to pass the ball and maneuver
for the open shot. The results were evident last night, as the
Cavs shot 54% as a team (very good), and had 24 assists (also very good).
not just the guards; even the big men are getting into the spirit of
sharing the ball and making that one extra pass. Example:
in the first quarter, Drew Gooden had the ball about eighteen feet away
from the hoop. He set up as though he were going to settle for
a jumper, even though his defender was covering him rather well.
Many times this season, Gooden has settled for that jumper. This
time, he passed the ball to Hughes, who was cutting into the lane.
Hughes then pulled up and made the uncontested, much-easier 12 footer.
Sasha Pavlovic found himself with the ball at the top of the key in
the waning moments of the first half. He dribbled towards the lane,
looked as though he were going to step back for a fadeaway jumper …
then found a wide-open Ilgauskas with a bullet of a pass for an easy
Speaking Of The Big Guy:
Ilgauskas had an excellent game, shooting 8-of-11 from the floor.
His jumper seems to have returned from its vacation, and his post moves
are looking strong as well. Perhaps the key is that Hughes really
seems to be making an effort to work the ball to Z in the post.
When they get the big guy going, the resultant interior threat opens
up a lot of outside shots.
Premonition Of The Night:
About four minutes into the third quarter, announcer Fred McLeod commented
that Pavlovic had not yet attempted a shot. (That statement was
not entirely accurate, as Pavlovic had missed a jumper earlier in the
game; but that shot had been his only one to that point.) As if
on cue, Pavs drove the ball and made a layup. Gotta love it when
the announcer calls the shot.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT
I really liked about the game is that I am again pressed to come up
with something that I did not like about the game. I could pick
a few nits here and there – such as cracking on the end of the bench,
which turned a 36 point lead into a 22 point lead in garbage time –
but that’s why they normally sit.
also cannot say that I am thrilled with the apparent emergence of Ira
Newble as a regular rotation player or with Communication Director Amanda
Mercado’s frizzy perm. But it appears that both of these items
appeared on the radar screen prior to last night’s game. (Side
note: What were the odds of Newble (a) taking three three-point
shots and (b) making all three of them, as he did against Sacramento
on Tuesday night?)
WHAT LIES AHEAD: