a Cleveland sports fan, I am conditioned to not being greedy.
I hope that my/our teams will win championships; I don’t expect that
they will. Think of it this way: if you were Pac-Man Jones’s
mom, you’d hope that your little boy would stay away from guns,
drugs, and strip clubs when he has 81 grand burning a hole in his pocket;
but you’d know better than to actually believe that he would
keep his nose clean. You would settle for not keeping the bail
bondsman on speed dial.
watch Cleveland sports teams in that same spirit. I hope
that the Indians will win the World Series; I will settle for meaningful
games in September. I hope that the Browns will be respectable;
I will settle for Eric Steinbach making it to September before he contracts
his staph infection.
for the Cavs, I know they will not win every game. They entered
last night’s game against Charlotte riding an eight-game winning streak.
If you had come to me nine games ago and told me that the Cavs would
go 8-1 over that stretch, I would have kissed you. (It would help
if you look like, and dress like, one of those Bobcats cheerleaders.
Think Hooters girls, except with sluttier tops.) Coach Mike Brown
probably would have kissed you. After all, you cannot expect to
win them …
the hell with it. The Cavs should have won last night, and I’m
pissed that they did not. They fell to the Bobcats, 108-100, in
overtime. LeBron James had his usual MVP-level game, with 37 points,
six rebounds, and six assists. Larry Hughes and Zydrunas Ilgauskas
added 17 and 15 points, respectively. The Bobcats (who were without
two of their key players, Emeka Okafor and Sean May) got 27 points from
Gerald Wallace and 20 from Matt Carroll. (Is it just me, or is
Carroll’s look borderline Bobby Brady?)
THIS AT HOME: Say the phrase “borderline Bobby Brady” five
a relatively even first quarter, the Cavs appeared to be on the verge
of blowing the game open in the second. A Sasha Pavlovic
dunk capped a 12-2 Cleveland run and gave the Cavs a 13 point lead (39-26)
with five minutes to play in the half. Bobcats fans were wondering,
is it too early to leave and beat the post-game traffic? But
Charlotte scored the next seven points and had the lead within single
digits at halftime. They continued to chip away at the lead throughout
the third quarter, cutting the Cleveland lead to as little as two points.
that juncture, LeBron essentially said, “enough of this”,
and scored 10 of the final 12 Cavs’ points in the period, staking
Cleveland to a six point lead at the quarter’s end. Cleveland
extended its lead to ten points (81-71) early in the fourth quarter,
but could not put the game away. Charlotte scored the next eight
points to slice the lead to two points, then pulled ahead on an Adam
Morrison free throw with 2:56 remaining. The Cavs answered (actually,
LeBron answered: a three-point play, followed by a put-back of
his own missed shot), and took a four point lead into the final minute.
it was not the Cavs’ night. A foul on Eric Snow led to two free
throws by Carroll; a turnover by Pavlovic led to two more Carroll free
throws, tying the game and setting the stage for overtime. And
in overtime, the Cavs just could not keep their energy going.
They scored only six points in the extra session, and two of those were
uncontested dunks in the final minute.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE GAME:
You Knew He Was Going To Bat
Leadoff: I don’t care if this is a Cavs column on a Cleveland
sports-based web site; I am leading the “What I Liked” charge with
some words about Walter Herrmann. No other topic has generated
more reader response (that’s a clever way of saying I’ve already
received two e-mails about him, and the game isn’t even technically
over as I write this).
Herrmann is the Charlotte forward whose visible excitement and energy
caused me to wax poetic about him the last time the Cavs met Charlotte.
You have to see the guy to appreciate him – the double ponytail, the
long limbs flying everywhere, the relentless motor. My words cannot
do him justice.
of this garbage; let’s get down to what he did last night. He
killed the Cavs, that’s what he did. Pressed into extended action
because of the injuries to Okafor and May, Herrmann scored a (drumroll
please) New Career High 19 points including a (drumroll please)
New Career High of three three-pointers, and also added a (drumroll
please) New Career High 10 rebounds. He also played some very
tight defense, even forcing LeBron into a few tough shots. His
biggest play came in the final minute of overtime. Cleveland was
down by three and clinging to its last hope; Herrmann destroyed that
hope by burying a three-pointer from the left corner.
still plenty of room on the Walter Herrmann bandwagon, but it’s about
to leave the station, so you’d better make hay while the sun is still
shining. (No, I do not have any idea what that means.
I do know that Herrmann is developing into a quality player, which makes
me feel like the guy who bought Starbucks at six bucks a share way back
Probably In The #5-6 Range
On SportsCenter’s Plays Of The Day: Cavs leading, 65-61, about
two minutes to go in the third quarter. Eric Snow steals the ball
from Charlotte’s Raymond Felton, and passes it up the court to Drew
Gooden, who is running down the right side of the court. Running
down the left side of the court is one LeBron James. Playing the
role of deer in the headlights is Charlotte’s Adam Morrison.
Morrison cuts off Gooden … who flips a perfect behind-the-back pass
to James for the dunk. Niiiice.
Speaking Of That LeBron Fellow:
He had another good night, although it did take him 31 shots to get
those 37 points. Most impressively, he went 11-of-12 from the
free throw line. His knee bend before the shot still looks very
exaggerated and unnatural, but I’m not complaining.
OK, I’ll Buy What The Announcers
Are Selling: The Fox Sports Ohio announcing crews are always
quick to lavish praise on Snow. Last night, I think they were
onto something. With Charlotte’s Wallace tearing the Cavs
for 20 points by the midpoint of the third quarter, Coach Brown put
Snow in the game and had him guard Wallace. It was a curious decision
– Wallace is a 6’7” pogo stick; Snow is several inches shorter
and has David Wesley hops. (Any excuse to link to
wouldn’t you know it, the move worked. Snow took Wallace out
of his rhythm – most memorably on a play where Wallace tried to post
up Snow, ended up falling to the ground, and had to burn a time out
to save the possession – and held him to five points for the rest
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT
It’s Jeff Rickel’s Fault:
Every time fellow writer Rickel pens (keyboards?) a piece that praises
the Cavs – like he did yesterday – the Cavs are a mortal lock to lose
the next game. You can book it!, as former Cavs announcer
Michael Reghi would say. I plan to bet heavily on whoever is playing
Cleveland the next time it happens.
No, It’s The Fault Of Sasha
Pavlovic’s Ass: With 39 seconds left, the Cavs were ahead
by two points (94-92) and had the ball out of bounds under the Charlotte
basket. The ball was inbounded to Pavlovic, who tried to dribble
behind his back. The ball smacked him right in the butt, and led
to a crucial turnover.
put aside my seething at players who have showy plays blow up in their
faces at the worst possible moment. Has anybody out there kept
track of the number of times Sasha has lost the ball when attempting
to dribble behind his back? We need the folks at 82 Games to track it. I’m thinking his
turnover percentage on that play is in the high 70s at least.
On my list of Players Who I Do Not Want Dribbling Behind Their Backs
On A Crucial Possession (a list I thought up this very minute), Sasha
is second. He goes behind his back, and Cavs fans everywhere go
into the fetal position.
Hughes is first, in case you were wondering.)
No, It’s Coach Brown’s
Fault: We can’t blame Sasha entirely; he should not have
been in that position in the first place. Despite the obvious
confusion by his team when they were about to inbound the ball (Anderson
Varejao called a time out, but the officials did not see it), Coach
Brown did not call a time out (which would have allowed them to inbound
the ball at halfcourt, instead of below the Bobcats’ hoop).
In the chaos that followed, Pavlovic ended up with the ball, and …
well, we know how that turned out.
his book The Last Season, Phil Jackson wrote about how he sometimes
would not call a time out when all circumstances would seem to call
for it. He wanted to teach his team to think on their feet.
In that sense, maybe Coach Brown’s non-time out was a brilliant piece
of strategy, a macro-decision that will have effects beyond the game
at hand. Not saying I believe it, but if I’m Coach’s defense
attorney, that’s the best case I can make.)
later, the Cavs had the ball with 7.5 seconds and the game tied.
Coach Brown did call a time out to diagram a play. Based on the
results, we can take “diagram” to mean “he played Tic-Tac-Toe
on the white board, then said ‘OK guys, give it to LeBron. Go
Team!’ as the timeout ended.” LeBron took the inbounds pass,
then dribbled … dribbled … dribbled … and launched a contested
27 footer as the clock expired. (If I’m Coach’s attorney on
this one, I run screaming from the courtroom.)
Maybe It Was The Entire Team’s
Fault: As mentioned before, the Cavs were up by ten points
early in the fourth quarter, and up by four points (with the ball) in
the final minute. Maybe we should just say that good teams don’t
blow leads like that, particularly to the third-worst team in the NBA,
and leave it at that.
Pet Peeves: Now that
we’re getting to the end of the season, it is time to look at the
standings as if they were the JFK Zapruder film. That means it
is also time for any number of commentators to say that one team is
X number of games behind another team, “but the numbers in the loss
column are the ones that count”. Fox Sports Ohio announcer Fred
McLeod was guilty of this misconception when analyzing the Eastern Conference
standings (“Cleveland has two more losses than Detroit on the season”).
both teams play the same number of games, the number of wins is
equally as important as the number of losses
– there is a direct relationship between the two. A
game you win is a game that you did not lose, and vice-versa.
Pretending that losses matter more than wins is like flipping a coin
a hundred times, then saying that the number of heads matters more than
the number of tails. It makes no sense.
I’m at it, somebody needs to tell Scott Williams that the restricted
zone under the basket does not give the offensive player carte blanche
to attack a defender. (Williams acted surprised when Varejao drew
an offensive foul from Carroll although Andy was standing within the
half-circle under the hoop. The replay clearly showed that Carroll
clocked Andy in the jaw with his elbow.) It’s not as though
you can blow the defender’s head off with a bazooka, and get away
with a no-call simply because the defender was within that area of the
WHAT LIES AHEAD:
rest for the weary. Dallas comes to The Q for a nationally televised
game this evening. This Friday, the Cavs travel to the Big Apple
to play the Knicks; that should be good for at least two days of “LeBron
secretly plans to leave Cleveland for New York” columns. New York Post, make it so.