Sure, it's Golden State, it's their third in four nights, the fourth game of an Eastern swing, they're fresh off a tough loss in Boston two nights ago, and basically, the Warriors are there to be taken, especially in the Q. So a victory for the Cavaliers on Friday night was to be expected, even (gasp) demanded. This total annihilation thing, though...
Our Cavaliers were once again dominant. Once again they ran with a running team, played its game for a while, bob and weave, duck and dance, and then the body-slam. Cleveland outscored the Warriors 50-21 in a second-and-third period display of machine-like efficiency on the way to a 112-97 victory that wasn't nearly as close as the final score would indicate. That's four wins in a row now, and 12 in 13 games.
Memo to the Browns: This is what a 13-3 record looks like.
Hot start! The Warriors came out of the pre-game locker room, took advantage of transition on long Cavalier misses, ran their young big men down the middle of the floor, buried long j's, and hit 11-of-12 from the field on the way to a 25-17 lead with five minutes and change left in the first quarter. It was an ideal way to start for Golden State, especially if they planned to keep their shooting percentage in the nineties for a good chunk of time.
Then the rest of the game happened: In the last 42 minutes of play, Golden State shot 22-of-72, a cool 30.5 percent from the field. Included in the misses were at least three air-balls off the hands of Corey "You seriously went to Duke?" Maggette. Perhaps wearied by the accumulated miles of their Eastern swing, the Warriors crashed like a three-year old off a sugar high, stopped making jump shots, and everything went from there.
LeBron's Line: 23 points on 9-of-13 from the field (nice), 3-of-4 from three (very nice) and 2-of-4 from the line (meh), with eight assists, seven rebounds, three steals, a blocked shot, and three random volleyball spikes of the orange off the backboard at the end of the half, in 31 minutes. Once again, LBJ's timing was impeccable. His two spectacular dunks, the first a breakaway under-the-legger off a steal and feed by Boobie Gibson, the second a classic Worthy-style windmill, put the Cavaliers in front for the first time on the night, 42-41 and established a lasting control of the game for the Wine & Gold. Late in the third quarter, he pumped extra lead into G-State's riddled carcass with back-to-back three's as the Cavaliers blew things wide open.
Best of the rest: Mo scored 16 points and continued to display active, willing defense, especially in a first-quarter sequence in which he got out to block Jamal Crawford's long jumper, scrapped for the loose ball, and came down-court to knock in a 14-footer amidst Golden State's own non-commital D. Wally stepped in with some excellent minutes, scoring nine points- all of which came in a five-minute span bridging the first and second periods and kept pace with a still-warm Warriors team- and grabbing nine rebounds. Daniel Gibson re-discovered his stroke in garbage time, scoring 16 on a passable 6-of-14. Big Ben had five offensive rebounds in 21 minutes. Eleven of Cleveland's twelve players scored, after the entire dressed roster had found twine in the previous two games.
Dear Jeff Phelps: You asked Z at halftime what being behind for the first time in four games felt like. Come on, man, you don't think Z knows what it feels like to be losing in a basketball game?
You are all Z's face-whores. Face... whores: The big fella had his best night of the season thus far, packing 21 points into 19 minutes and 13 shots, and his fresh legs moved like their running mates were still Brevin, Ced, and the Reign Man. In the third quarter he treated Golden State's young bigs to a lesson in footwork, drop-stepping and behind-the-backing Anthony Randolph and Ronny Turiaf for consecutive buckets and planting an elbow in Turiaf's throat when Turiaf grabbed round the waist him in hopes of avoiding more teaching points from an old pro who played very youthful on this night.
Third quarters are your friend: Apparently they've got this third-quarter thing figured out, no fooling. The Cavaliers came out in the third and put the Warriors away with cold, clinical precision, outscoring Don Nelson's team 36-16 and extending a 58-52 halftime bulge to a nice, roomy 94-68.
The Wisdom of Mr. Cavalier, Part III: AC after Maggette's third air-ball: "I'm going to nickname him ‘Air Mail'! (cackles)"
The Wisdom of Mr. Cavalier, Part IV: AC on the second of back-to-back LeBron threes: "That was a heat check, and he found out the temperature is still a hundred degrees."
Next: Tomorrow night, as Mo goes back to Milwaukee, and the Cavaliers take on the Bucks at 9:00 EST.