The Cavaliers didn't play four strong quarters of basketball on Friday night. Actually, they only played about one.
Against the likes of the New York Knicks, one was enough.
Thanks to another Garden-variety effort from LeBron James, Cleveland bounced back from Thursday's loss to the Bulls and cruised in the Boogie Down, 100-91. It was no masterpiece- in fact it was downright ugly at times- but with the Cavaliers struggling to break .500 and with trips to Orlando and Miami looming next week, go ahead and put this in the "a win is a win" category.
A Kingly First Quarter: It's fairly well documented that LeBron James enjoys playing in Madison Square Garden, and with this being Cleveland's only trip to the Big Apple this season, you had to know the wunderkind from St. Vincent-St. Mary was bound to put on a show. Sure enough, he didn't waste any time dazzling the sellout crowd of 19,763. Knocking down long jumpers and feeding his teammates with gorgeous passes, LeBron racked up 18 first-quarter points on 8-of-9 shooting to go with five assists. Most of his points came from outside, including, pleasingly, a shot clock-beating three-pointer he stuck straight in the grill of former teammate Larry Hughes, who could only smile in resignation.
At the end of the first period Cleveland had a 40-21 lead and for all intents and purposes, the game was over. As a matter of fact, the Cavaliers never trailed after the 10:04 mark of the opening quarter.
LeBron's Line: 33 points on 12-of-17 from the field, 2-of-4 from three-point range and 7-of-9 from the foul line with nine assists, eight rebounds and three assists. LeBron also committed a game-high seven turnovers; then again, Cavalier turnovers were one of the themes of Friday night's game.
Sloppy Effort: Turnovers killed the Cavaliers in Thursday night's loss to the Bulls, and although they weren't fatal against the Knicks, they did help make the game somewhat more interesting than it had to be. Cleveland committed 21 miscues on Friday night as they succumbed somewhat to New York's frantic style of play. Indeed the Knicks, who trailed by 26 at one point, managed to pull within nine late in the first quarter thanks in large part to Cavalier largesse with the basketball. It was nice to get the win regardless, but such loose play is going to get this team destroyed in Orlando next week. They've got to clean it up.
The Supporting Cast: It was largely a one-man show for Cleveland- of players not named LeBron James only Mo Williams scored in double figures and only Daniel Gibson took more than ten shots- but there were some non-23 bright spots. Zydrunas Ilgauskas bounced back from his awful night against Chicago with nine points and 11 rebounds off the bench to go with a team-best +19. Playing off the bench for the first time this season, Anderson Varejao grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Cleveland got 35 points and 29 rebounds off its bench while hammering New York on the boards, 46-31. All ten active Cavalier players scored. So while it was mostly LeBron's night, everyone more or less chipped in to get the victory.
Dyno-Mite? Not Quite: J.J. Hickson got the start on Friday, an early-season Mike Brown experiment. While the youngster scored six points on 3-of-4 shooting, he also failed to grab a single rebound in 13 minutes. J.J. still looks like he's moving a hundred miles an hour out there, and one wonders about his basketball IQ. 13 minutes at power forward and no rebounds? Really?
He Was Just Being Polite: No, Jeff Phelps, "most" Indians fans are probably not happy for C.C. Sabathia. "Most" Indians fans are probably wondering why C.C. choked like a dog for the Indians in 2007 as opposed to being lights-out for the Yankees in 2009.
Then again: I was happy to be watching the Fox Sports Ohio feed as opposed to the ESPN broadcast of Friday's game. Watching national telecasts of Cavaliers games has become almost intolerable. There's too much babbling in general and too much babbling about LeBron's future in particular.
Next: Wednesday night at 8:00 PM when the Cavaliers head to central Florida to take on their old friends the Orlando Magic (duh-duh-duuuuuuuh.)