Is it possible for a game to never be in doubt despite being close throughout, even tied in the final minutes? If it is, yesterday’s game was it. Cleveland had a two-point lead over Detroit with three minutes remaining, and was tied with 1:42 to play, but the outcome was as scripted as anything that ever came out of Hollywood. The Pistons scored the final five points of the game, and that was the margin of victory in yesterday’s 87-82 defeat at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The loss dropped the Cavs’ season record to 46-32. Fortunately for them, Chicago also lost yesterday, meaning that the two teams are still tied in the standings, and still tied in the race for the all-important second seed in the conference (although Chicago does own the tiebreaker between them, should both teams finish the season with the same record).
As usual, LeBron James led the Cavs with 20 points (also as usual, the Pistons held him well below his scoring average) and six assists. Drew Gooden added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Pistons’ Rip Hamilton led all scorers with 21 points, and Antonio McDyess added 18. (Interesting fact: All scorers for both teams scored in double digits.)
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE GAME:
Not much; and nothing that is going to motivate me to write a quippy little lead-in. I appreciated that they came back from a 14-point deficit early in the second quarter (although Detroit was an accomplice, as they allowed Rasheed Wallace to keep jacking up three-pointers, and they allowed Flip Murray to enter the game). I liked how they kept the game close, and were in a position to win it in the final minutes. I liked seeing Gooden continue to be a presence on the boards, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas continue his trend of shooting well from the field. I even liked the Cavs’ free-throw shooting (although two late, critical misses by LeBron prevent it from being an overall positive).
I cannot get excited about any of that. Once again, the Cavs were in a position to win a game that they Had To Win. (That cliché may be one of the most over-used and poorly-used ones in sports. By definition, you don’t “have” to win any game unless losing the game means that your season ends. But it does sound better than a game that they Didn’t Technically Have To Win, But It Would Have Made Their Lives Easier If They Had, so we’ll stick with it.) Once again, the Cavs fell short. This morning, I don’t feel like handing out gold stars for a good effort that fell short. So let’s get to…
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT THE GAME:
Paging Dr. Jung: In one psychological sense, there’s no such thing as an accident. The events that happen do so because you want them to, whether consciously or subconsciously.
I’m not about to put the entire Cavs’ team on the couch and have them tell me about their childhoods, but it was no accident that they didn’t get the job done virtually every time they had the opportunity to tie the game or take the lead. (They spent most of the game trailing Detroit, and held the lead for only a couple of minutes out of the entire contest.) Consider: