It was a game that the Cavs had no business winning … and they didn’t, falling to the Miami Heat in overtime by a final count of 94-90. Wonder not how they dropped this game; wonder instead why they weren’t blown the hell out of Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavs shot 37% from the field, suffered a 1-of-17 shooting stretch that extended from the third quarter into the first five minutes of the fourth, had only 14 assists on the evening (Miami had 29, in comparison), and were completely outgunned from three point range (Miami scored 33 from beyond the arc; Cleveland, 12). They trailed by as many as 15 points early in the fourth quarter.
Indeed, Cleveland had the chance to win the game in regulation. (With that, I will conveniently skip over the first 47 minutes and 50 seconds of the game.) The game was tied at 83 apiece, and the Cavs had the ball after a timeout. Alas, the best shot they could manage was a contested James three pointer (yes, we will be talking more about that play later; no, it will not be in the “What I Liked” section) that clanged harmlessly off the rim as time expired.
The Cavs did hold a two point lead in overtime, after a Drew Gooden jumper pushed the score to 87-85. (This lead, incidentally, was the largest lead the Cavs held the entire game. They also briefly held a one-point advantage midway through the second quarter, at 30-29.) They then decided to leave the league’s top three point shooter, Jason Kapono, wide open beyond the arc. Kapono drilled a three-pointer to give Miami the lead for good. Cleveland did have the chance to tie the game, down 90-87 with 30 seconds to go. Alas, Miami’s Jason Williams stole an ill-advised LeBron James pass, effectively ending the game.
LeBron led everybody with 35 points; he also added nine rebounds and five assists. Three other Cavs – Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, and Gooden – each had 14 points, and Gooden also tallied 14 rebounds. Shaquille O’Neal and Antoine Walker each scored 20 for Miami, and Udonis Haslem (you have to go pretty far through the book of baby names to come up with that one, no?) added 15.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE GAME:
You May Have To Look Closely, But There Is A Silver Lining: I don’t have a pair of wine-and-gold-colored glasses to compete with those of Joe Gabriele, the official Cavs site’s indefatigable Optimist, but I do see a positive message to take away from last night’s loss. It can be summed up in two sentences:
This Is Why We Pay Cable (Or Dish, As Appropriate) Bills Every Month?: The game continued an interesting, albeit annoying, trend of subpar telecasts by a national broadcast company. (Recently, I’ve ripped on ESPN for showing “high definition” broadcasts that have been of circa-1985, blocked-movie-channel quality.) My main points here are twofold:
Here’s an example. Early in the game, LeBron had the chance to pull up for a long jumper. Instead, he passed to Pavlovic in the corner, who also spurned the long jumper for a drive to the basket. The play resulted in a charge on Sasha. The announcers tore apart LeBron for not taking the shot (“you’re a star; you need to take those shots”), and Sasha for not launching away from three point land. But later in the game, they pounded on LeBron for taking long shots early into the shot clock – the exact same action that they criticized him for not doing earlier in the game. Was it a coincidence that they made their remarks after Mr. James missed those shots? If he had made them, would they have been praising him for “taking over the game the way a star should”? You decide.
WHAT LIES AHEAD:
It’s a quick turnaround for the Cavs, as they travel to Washington to face the Wizards tonight. The second half of a back-to-back is always tough, especially when it’s coming off an overtime … damn, I’m buying into the excuses already. The Cavs’ PR machine has done its job. Guys, it’s the Wizards. A good team, but they never played defense, even when they were healthy. And now two of their big guns (Arenas and Caron Butler) are done for the season (yes, I know that they could technically be back if Washington ekes its way into June; that ain’t happening). Go into Washington and take this game. (Especially with a critical matchup against Detroit looming on Easter Sunday.)