Archive for January, 2011

Links To The Present: January 17, 2011

Monday, January 17th, 2011

“As the Cavaliers’ front office unpacks the tool box in an effort to rebuild the franchise, the task ahead remains daunting. Rarely has an NBA team in recent history lost a superstar and returned to relevance within a decade.” [Jason Lloyd]

“Simply put, the current Cavaliers can’t take their talents anywhere, because they have none.” [Nick Carrabine]

“Just as things start to look up – Daniel Gibson is slated to return Wednesday as the Cavs host the Phoenix Suns – the schedule continues to rear its ugly head by placing names like Boston, Orlando, Chicago and Miami between present day and the end of the month.  And just think, fans and players alike hoped that 2011 would bring something different than 2010.  Actually, it has – the Cavaliers were not forced to finish a game with seven able bodies at all through the first two-plus months of the season.” [Scott Sargent]

“[After] watching some of their 10th consecutive loss at Phoenix on Sunday, I saw encouraging signs. With a virtually unknown cast of characters except for Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, the Cavs showed a hint of what coach Byron Scott wanted to build.” [Maria Ridenour]

To wrap things up, here’s the latest installment of “Hey, Mary!” wherein the Plain Dealer’s Mary Schmitt Boyer answers questions about Varejao’s injury, the Cavs chances in the lottery, and the possibility of the front office blowing things up completely.

On The Twitters

“Mo Williams questionable for Suns. Daniel Gibson expected back in lineup. Christian Eyenga and Anthony Parker likely out for Wednesday.” [Bob Finnan]

“Cavs will have 3 full days being at home between games. If they were going to make a trade before the deadline now would be the time.” [realcavsfans]

“Coach Scott ran five on five, said he made sure his players knew when he made a shot. Showtime days are still intact.” [Scott Sargent]

“‘A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.’ #MLKJr” [Boobie Gibson]

Recap: Nuggets 127, Cavs 99 (Or, of fast breaks and slow, painful suffering)

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Overview: The Denver Nuggets scored 80 points in the first half of a 127-99 destruction of the helpless Cleveland Cavaliers. A hip flexor strain caused Mo Williams to leave the game after only five minutes of play.

Whoever said “that’s why they play the games” was not talking about this game bullets:

I mean, it is what it is. When a team on an epic road losing streak and missing almost half its players comes to play a great home team on a back-to-back, this is what happens. Throw in the altitude factor and the pace of the game, and it really wasn’t fair. I’d like to have seen the Cavs at least pretend they had a chance, but alas.

The Nuggets were getting anything they wanted in the half-court, but the game really got ugly when they started to run. This is what a running team looks like, everybody — the Nuggets looked to run every time they secured the ball, got it to their guards, and filled the lane with cutter after cutter if the man with the ball’s angle was cut off. It was beautiful, it was terrifying, it was brutal. The Nuggets really didn’t even need Carmelo to whip the Cavs’ collective asses tonight — it was Nene filling the lanes, Lawson pushing the break, and the three-point shooters keeping the floor spaced that destroyed the Cavs on Saturday.

Contrasting what the Nuggets did with Jamario Moon firing jumpers, Manny Harris and Alonzo Gee trying to work of the dribble, and Mo and Antawn forcing jumpers, and Hickson doing what he does was a depressing exercise — in retrospect, it’s unbelievable that anyone thought a team with this little talent was ever going to successfully beat anybody by outscoring them, ever. Next season, defense needs to be the first, second, and third point of emphasis in roster-building, practice, and training camp. As for this season, I don’t know what happens. I honestly can’t imagine how this team wins another game without something truly ridiculous happening. Maybe things will get better when the team gets a bit healthier, but this is truly miserable to watch right now. Until later.

Recap: Jazz 121, Cavs 99 (Or, maybe it’s karma. Maybe it’s horrible defense.)

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Overview: The Jazz scored 70 points in the first half of a 121-99 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Deron Williams and Raja Bell scored a combined 41 points on 22 shots, and C.J. Miles added 20 points off the Jazz bench.

That you have to attempt to stop opposing players from scoring is accepted dogma bullets:

Two things stood out to me in this game. First of all, the Hickson/Jamison frontcourt is a crime against defense. We all know that Hickson can’t guard anybody, but it’s amazing how bad Jamison is on that end. I’ve been at home for the last few weeks and haven’t been able to DVR the games, so this was the first time I was able to rewind after Jazz scores and really look at who allowed the basket.

When there was a catastrophic breakdown that led to a wide-open shot, and there were many, Jamison was usually the guy at fault. I am not exaggerating that Jamison made the correct rotation maybe one out of every five times. He doesn’t close out on his man when he has an easy shot, and he over-helps when his man doesn’t have the ball and frees him up. He lives in no-man’s land. It’s horrifying. In fact, I’m naming the area in between Jamison’s man and the man with the ball “Jamisonia.” (“Hickstown” also exists — Jamisonia has been around for longer, and has attained nation status in that time.)

Of course, Jamison had one of his best offensive games of the year, going off for 26 points on 19 shots and 11 boards, but I’m actually convinced he did more harm than good in this game. The Jazz got whatever they wanted whenever they made Jamison have to defend. Really terrifying performance.

The second thing that really stood out to me was how badly the Cavs got outworked. How many times did the Jazz take the ball from the Cavs in their own backcourt? How many times did they beat every single Cav down the floor on a fast-break? How many times did they go into the paint and encounter no resistance? This game was played at the pace Cleveland is supposed to want, and the Jazz destroyed them because they were running hard and the Cavs were cantering. There is no excuse for a team with this little talent to go on the road and not give effort. Really miserable showing. I defy you to show me a Jerry Sloan team playing with as little effort and focus as the Cavaliers did on Friday night once in the last 22 years.

The only other real variables in this game were C.J. Miles catching fire in the second quarter (seriously, where did he come from? He looked like a healthy Michael Redd, only way more pissed), and the Jazz settling for jumpers in the third when they stopped taking the Cavs seriously. Once the Cavs cut the lead to single-digits, the Jazz tightened up and the game was over.

The Cavs did do some things well — the uptempo Cleveland offense did seem to settle into a groove and put a lot of pressure on Utah in full-court situations, but since they were ultimately outplayed in transition, it’s hard to find much solace in that.

J.J. Hickson had one of his games — 21 and 14, some shockingly athletic plays out of the high post and off of cuts, nine turnovers, numerous blown rotations, and five fouls. It would be great to think that J.J. is on his way to keeping the good and cutting out the bad, but it looks like this could be more or less the best J.J. we’re going to get on a given night.

Mo made plays but forced a ton of bad jumpers, and Sessions had a good line by attacking a defense that was already up double-digits and didn’t want to expend the energy necessary to pack the paint. That’s kind of what they do.

My one last random note: The Al Jefferson acquisition may have been my least favorite of the summer, and I’m still not sold on it. Utah was getting whatever it wanted by pushing the pace and running the flex, and Al Jefferson was stopping the ball so that he could toss up a 10-foot hook.

I know it’s a good hook shot, but it’s one of those shots he makes just often enough for it to be dangerous to his efficiency. With 7 seconds left on the shot clock, or to get the Jazz out of an offensive drought? Great. But it’s not something he should be actively looking for when nobody on the Cavs can stop any of the backcourt players. Also, why would you settle for a jumper over Samardo Samuels? Ever? He did use a shot-fake to dunk on J.J. on the next possession, but still. He settled for a jumper over Samardo Samuels.

Anyways, that’s all for tonight. Have a good weekend, everyone.

Links To The Present: January 14, 2011

Friday, January 14th, 2011

You guys have been talking about it in the comments section of yesterday’s post, but the story of the day is the trade rumors surrounding Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Cavs would use $10 million worth of their trade exception in exchange for Wallace. He also reports the Cavs are pushing for a lottery-protected first round pick for taking on Wallace’s contract, which pays him $22 million over the next two seasons (expiring in 2012-13). The Cavs, if they cannot agree to terms with Charlotte, have also inquired about the Sixers’ Andre Iguodala, who has $44 million and three years left on his contract. For more details, you can check out the full article.

“I am a Gerald Wallace fan, but I stop short of believing that he is a genuinely great player.  He would have been a great fit with the Cavaliers playing alongside LeBron James, as he likes to defend, run, and finish at the hoop, but doesn’t require a lot of touches or shots to be effective.  Those are good traits even in the absence of LeBron, but they are somewhat less valuable with the current Cavalier roster.” [Michael Curry]

Byron Scott claims he’s not paying much attention to what the front office is doing. I suppose focus is key when your team is in the midst of a historically terrible year, but I’m sure he would be mildly thrilled to have someone of Iguodala or Wallace’s caliber, if only because he would finally have a borderline all-star talent on his roster.

For the Cavs’ upcoming game in Utah, they’ll likely be without Anthony Parker, Christian Eyenga, and Boobie Gibson, who practiced Thursday, but isn’t quite ready to return from his ankle injury.

On The Twitters

“#Cavs will start Mo and Manny at G, Jamison and Gee at F, J.J. Hickson at C vs. Jazz” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“The difference between the 1st overall pick and the 6th is just flat out huge. Adding talent jeopardizes their draft position.” [realcavsfans]

“One question I have (and will continue to have)…does Gerald Wallace want to be here? You can say “who cares?” but this is important now.” [Eric Knappenberger]

Links To The Present: January 13, 2011

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

“It can’t get any worse than this. I don’t know how much of this I can take but this by far is rock bottom.” [Antawn Jamison via Daryl Ruiter]

“The Cavaliers have now lost 11 in a row and 21 of their last 22 games. They will take Wednesday off, return to practice Thursday in Los Angeles and then fly to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz on Friday. The trip concludes with a back-to-back Saturday night at Denver.” [Jason Lloyd]

Mary Schmitt Boyer talks Byron Scott, the impact of Varejao’s injury, and whether or not the Cavs are tanking.

“Because James has never listened to anyone, ever, he tries to make it right while following his own instincts. And because he’s never listened to anyone, ever, he still thinks his instincts are spot on. And, as the last few years have proven, he couldn’t be more wrong in that regard. He starts in the right place, with feelings and actions we all can understand, and just blows it all to pieces.” [Kelly Dwyer]

Oh, and Ted Williams is headed to rehab, not a job in the Cavs broadcasting department (at least not right now). Good to see he’s getting his priorities in line.

On The Twitters

“This Clippers team is exactly what you hope the Cavs team looks like in 2 years. Full of young talent you can build around.” [realcavsfans]

“Word is DET plans to keep Troy Murphy IF Melo deal lives. Other teams already calling for Murphy but Pistons averse to buyout w/sale pending” [Marc Stein]

“RT @brianspaeth: Has every Heat-Clippers karma joke been used already?” [Scott Sargent]

January 12, 2011

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

“I’m sorry. This is not NBA basketball.” [Bob Finnan]

“All of the anguish from last summer, all of the losses from this season, all of the frustration from two prolonged losing streaks and all the aggravation from a roster ravaged by injuries cumulated into a crashing, reprehensible, resounding thud Tuesday night at Staples Center.” [Jason Lloyd]

“[Last] night was an absolute disaster for Cleveland sports. With the 112-57 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers (the NBA’s worst in 13 years and third largest margin of victory in LA’s storied history), the Cavaliers fell flat on the faces yet again.” [Jacob Rosen]

LeBron’s “Karma”-gate

“An expert now in Eastern religions, LeBron James, who can do anything (just ask his entourage), chided Cleveland fans for being unkind to him Tuesday night. He said they had bad karma because of it.” [Bill Livingston]

“James had to be laughing as he tweeted his comment, knowing that just last season when he was a member of the Cavaliers, they went into the Staples Center on Christmas and beat the Lakers 102-87.” [Ryan Isley]

“About a hundred different thoughts went through my mind when I first heard [Bron's tweet]. The biggest thought, though, is ‘why is karma on LeBron’s side’? After all, Dan Gilbert never said anything negative about LeBron while he was a player in Cleveland, and if we’re being honest, there were some opportunities for Gilbert to deliver some harsh words at times for LeBron’s actions and performances.” [Andrew of WFNY]

And to round things out, a WFNY mailbag, where Scott Sargent fields questions about possible trades, draft prospects, and the possible lowering of ticket prices next year.

On The Twitters

“The ankle is getting Better! Another great day of rehab.. Almost back!” [Boobie Gibson]

“Cavaliers play the Nets on the 24th of this month… That’s like the Washington Generals playing the Washington Generals.” [realcavsfans]

“My ankle is ok” [Christian Eyenga]

Recap: Lakers 112, Cavs 57 (Or, Rock Bottom)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

epic fail photos - Flood Warning FAIL

Holy Christ. I was at this game, and it was terrible. In no way did the Cavaliers belong on the same court as the defending champs. If the Cavs had done everything right in this game, they would have been blown out, and they did everything wrong. Here’s the craziest thing about this game: The Lakers started things off by hitting three straight threes (what a surprise), went up 9-2, and the game already felt over. Derek Fisher was goofing around on a fast-break. The crowd was vaguely bemused. The Cavs looked confused and scared. The game absolutely felt over. And it was. The only thing we didn’t know is just how bad it would get.

In the early-going, the Lakers destroyed the Cavs’ undersized front line with Bynum and Gasol. Just absolutely destroyed. The Cavs’ bigs weren’t tall enough, weren’t athletic enough, and had no idea how to play defense, while the Laker bigs were making strong moves and beautiful interior passes to each other. Seriously, the Lakers’ interior passing is so much better than everybody else’s. It’s amazing. And of course, the Cavs only existed to show everybody just how good the Lakers’ interior passing is. Manny Harris was guarding Kobe, and the Lakers took a 39-point lead with only one Kobe basket. That is absurd.

That was the Cavs’ defense, which was extremely bad. The Cavs’ offense was where all that is good and happy in this world goes to die. The Cavs couldn’t move the ball, couldn’t shoot threes, and couldn’t score in the paint. Here were the Cavs’ go-to plays on offense, and I am not making any of this up:

J.J. Hickson shooting jumpers: J.J. relationship with his jumper is like a heroin addict’s relationship with heroin: it was great for that first little while, but now it would probably be better for everybody if he had never discovered jumpers in the first place. He looked completely terrified on both ends of the floor, and was awful.

Samardo Samuels in the post: Samardo Samuels is unathletic and undersized. He was matched up against Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. He seemed to believe that if he did enough counter-moves, Gasol or Bynum would forget that they were much taller than Samuels, and did not actually have to move to block his shot. At no point did Gasol or Bynum forget that Samardo Samuels could not score on them without stilts and a shotgun, and Samuels went 1-12 from the floor with four turnovers.

Mo Willams and Manny Harris firing jumpers: Mo and Manny figured out that there was nothing to be gained by going into the paint and trying to score on Bynum/Gasol, so they decided to fire a contested jumper if they got anything resembling space. It didn’t work. They combined to shoot 3-17.

Alonzo Gee doing energy things: This actually worked: Gee was active, gave great effort, and got some garbage buckets by staying active around the rim. This was not your fault, Alonzo Gee. Also, the PA announcer called him “Anthony Gee” after he scored his first basket.

This was a miserable, miserable, experience and game. The Lakers didn’t beat the Cavs in an athletic competition: they empirically proved that the Cavs did not belong on the court with them. This is rock bottom. Abandon all hope. Until later.

Links To The Present: January 11, 2011

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

“The Cavaliers are on pace to be the worst defenders of the three-point shot in league history. As we reach the midway point of the season, Cleveland’s opponents have hit 42.4 percent of their threes — by far the highest mark in the league.” [Zach Lowe]

“Cavaliers rookie forward Christian Eyenga sat out practice Monday at UCLA, with his right foot in a walking boot as a precautionary measure after he twisted his ankle late in his first NBA start on Sunday at Phoenix.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“An NBA-worst 8-29 after losing to Phoenix on Sunday — it was their 10th straight defeat and 20th in the last 21 games — the Cavs are No. 1 in one regard: If the season ended today and not 45 games from now , they would have the best odds in the league of winning the lottery.” [Rick Noland]

“Ryan Hollins will start at center, with J.J. Hickson at power forward and Antawn Jamison at small forward, along with Mo Williams at point guard and rookie Manny Harris at shooting guard.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“It will be interesting to watch the interaction between Kobe Bryant and Manny Harris tonight. Scott said if Bryant respects the rookie, if Harris is physical with him and doesn’t back down, he’ll give him a pat and let Harris know it during the second or third quarters. But if he totally ignores him, that means Kobe is having his way with him. ‘I hope there’s conversation, but I don’t want it to be where Manny is pi—-g him off, either. Because I’ve seen that happen, too, and (Bryant) goes for big, big numbers.'” [Jason Lloyd]

On The Twitters

“Shootaround at UCLA. I was walking with Ryan Hollins, don’t nobody recognize him…lol lol” [Mo Williams]

“If Ryan Hollins is starting by the time the #cavsget home, it’s time to cancel the pregame pyrotechnic show.” [Dan Labbe]

Links To The Present: January 10, 2011

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Just to confirm, Anderson Varejao is indeed done for the year. And Clevelanders once again look to the heavens, wondering if someone’s asleep at the wheel or if this is happening on purpose.

“With Anderson Varejao lost for the season to a torn tendon in his foot, Hickson is a starter again. Only now he’s playing center instead of forward, which may be a good thing, because it will force him to stay in the post rather than launch long jumpers from the perimeter.” [Jason Lloyd]

“[It] would make sense for Gilbert to root for Manny Harris. Both are Michigan products, and let’s face it Gilbert has a vested interest in Manny’s success. If the Cavaliers can find a starter for the future out of an undrafted rookie free agent, that looks good for the organization. It also means they can look at other positions in the draft. It is certainly way too early to call Manny Harris the future of anything in Cleveland, but he certainly has one fan already.” [Rick of WFNY]

“[This] team missing the playoffs could be a good thing in the long term. Almost every NBA team that has a period of success has a long, slow, drawn out fade back to the bottom before they can return to prominence. It appeared that if the Cavaliers did make the playoffs, or if they made short sighted moves with their acquired assets to salvage some semblance of respectability, that they too would fall into this trap. Barring any drastic changes, this team is on pace to earn a ton of ping pong balls in the lottery and earn a top draft pick, which gives them a chance to hopefully acquire a young star player to rebuild around.” [Andrew of WFNY]

To cap off an especially WFNY-centric links section: in case any of you haven’t noticed, WFNY now has its very own section on Cleveland.com. Which: congrats to our colleagues over there. Today, Scott Sargent writes a piece about what the 2002-03 Cavaliers (the last Cavs team to perform as dismally as our current-day squad) are doing in 2011. If we can extrapolate from Sargent’s piece, a limping Leon Powe will be putting up 12-10 in Greece in a few years.

On The Twitters

“On this date in Cavs history – 1/10/2003: The Lakers beat the Cavs 115-99 behind Kobe Bryant’s triple double 24pts/11asts/10rebs” [realcavsfans]

“#Cavs Christian Eyenga sitting out practice with R anlke inj, in walking boot! Getting treatmt” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“Mavericks have signed former #Cavs guard Sasha Pavlovic to a 10 day. Some of you have asked about him in past.” [Jason Lloyd]

Recap: Suns 108, Cavs 100 (Or, I saw the light!)

Monday, January 10th, 2011

J.J. Hickson, back at Center

Full disclosure…I missed the first two and a half quarters of this game.  Instead, I went to the gym in an attempt to take a jog for the first time in about a month (my body is my temple, but it was closed for the holidays), during which time I ran so far I threw up in the bathroom.  I suppose these are the sacrifices you have to make if you want to support a running team.  Then again, it’s not the first time I’ve thrown up during a Cavs game this season.

So I got home, started the shower, and flipped on the TV.  The Cavs had the ball, and they were looking pretty competitive up 62-60 with 8:21 left in the third, which left me to wonder at what point during my trip to Bally’s Total Fitness hell had frozen over.  Apparently it hadn’t (the Cavs did end up losing)…so assuming this is in no way related to the massive barrage of bird and fish death going on in Arkansas, and thus is not the third sign of an oncoming apocalypse, I think it’s safe to say we witnessed a pretty encouraging moral victory tonight.

Zephaniah 1:3 - “ I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth. And after that, maybe I’ll let the Cavs win a game.” – God

Moving on…to the new starting lineup!

PG- Mo

SG- Manny Harris

SF- Christian Eyenga

PF- Antawn Jamison

C- J.J. Hickson

As soon as I saw that, I got excited.  In spite of how well Andy was playing, and although it’s just awful that our hand was forced, this might be how the starting frontcourt should’ve looked all along.  If only to maximize our talent.  Andy’s the only one of the three as effective from the bench.  Most importantly, the new lineup is younger, faster, and more athletic.  The Cavs wanted to get on the move, but that was never going to happen with the likes of Anthony Parker and Joey Graham on the wings.  Turns out, if you want to be a running team, you have to have guys who can run.

‘Game’ slash ‘4th Quarter’ summary:

From what I’ve gleaned so far from the highlights, it looked like the Cavs were able to force some turnovers early, and then get out and run faster then usual with their aforementioned new starting lineup.  A first half with a nice combo of fast breaks, early offense, and falling jumpers.  (In fact, Austin Carr just confirmed this for me on the post-game show.  Thanks Partner.)  The Cavs had 18 fast break points by half time, and outscored the Suns there 23-9 over the course of the game.  They also had 18 offensive rebounds, and shot 31 free throws.  The Cavs got whooped from the 3-point line (6-20 vs. 13-28), but really, if you’re Byron Scott, I think the energy numbers are what you’re looking for from this team anyway.

And now, for the part I did see… The activity on the defensive end was improved, but the defense as a whole wasn’t great.  Had their shots not been falling, I could’ve seen this one getting away from the Cavs earlier then it did…namely toward the end of the third quarter.  But that said, the shots were falling.  And to their credit, the Cavs were working to create good shots by looking for transition, moving the ball, and consistently attacking the basket. The Suns pulled away in the end basically because the Cavs couldn’t quite keep pace offensively.  They went 1-18 from the field during an almost 11-minute stretch in the fourth, and by the time they came out of that funk, they were down 106-96 with 17 seconds left in the game.  They defended at essentially the same rate, the shots just stopped falling.

In games past, lulls like that have looked disastrous.  But tonight, I didn’t feel like the team fell apart so much as it just ran out of gas.  Byron Scott it said it was a matter of the young kids, the driving force behind the resurgence (you know it’s been a long season, when you label a lone, competitive game as a ‘resurgence’), just didn’t yet know how to win, or how to close a game.  I saw some of that.  Nash executed while we started tightening up.  But further inspecting the issue of closing, I think the real problem is that there just aren’t any real creators on this team.  Maybe now, we can start to keep an eye on Manny Harris’s development, but for the foreseeable future, this will probably become the status quo for the end of close games.  We’ll just kind of fade away as things get tight.  Lots of jump shots, a few forced drives that result in really difficult, contested runners, and J.J. trying to jump over four guys to finish.  I don’t have the full game to compare it to, but I’m pretty sure that’s what started happening that wasn’t happening prior.  The game slowed down and became a match of execution and playmaking, which are not yet our strong suits.  But in general, it was hard not to watch that game and take something positive away.  I liked what I saw.  Play with that effort and pace, and they’ll win a few games.  Literally ‘a few’, there’s still a long road ahead, but they’ll do better then 1 for their last 21.

Cavs Related Bullets:

Youth and…wait, what is that, athleticism?!

I’m going go out on a limb and say that within two years, Manny Harris will be the best player to have ever worn a Cavalier uniform.

Manny Harris races around Vince Carter's textbook defensive stance.

Just kidding.  But wow, he’s speedy as heck, and it’s looking more and more like he may be hiding a greater degree of versatility in that 6’5” frame then we initially anticipated.  Add Christian “ankles of steel” Eyenga to the mix, and all of a sudden the slowest team in the league isn’t looking so slow anymore.

Let’s start with Manny Harris.  Amazing game tonight.  I guess it wasn’t completely out of nowhere, but I was reading a Plain Dealer article this morning about how wide-eyed rookies can be in facing their idols for the first time.  Manny admitted that, with guys like Nash and Kobe on the horizon, “it could be a tough week.”  That certainly didn’t imbue me with the notion that there were any 27 and 8’s in his back pocket.  Even more encouraging then his pure statistical output, I got the feeling that the other players started looking to him tonight.  I jotted down a note in the fourth quarter that, for a few possessions, it was Manny who had taken to setting up the offense.  Not only was he able to get the ball down the court in about ½ the time we’re used to seeing, but he allowed Mo to get off the ball in the half court, run off some screens, and not have the pressure of having to create his own offense.  I mean, obviously this isn’t an all-inclusive statement, but at times, Manny Harris was filling the LeBron James role.  He wasn’t able to carry us home, and his offense isn’t really reliable enough yet to do what he did tonight on a consistent basis, but it was cool to see someone step up and have that kind of a game.  Also, Manny is only 21, and he’s proving that, at worst, he will be a better player then Larry Hughes.  (In fact, the only thing that really scares me about Manny so far is that both he and Larry seem to be of a similar body-type.  Only Manny’s body is moving much faster and looks like it’s actually trying.)

Manny and Eyenga both showed some serious ability to get up in the air and defensive rebound from the 2 and 3 positions.  It helped us to look a little bigger then we actually are.  I also mentioned this a few days ago, but fast climbing my list of favorite Cavs related happenings?  Christian Eyenga challenging shots.  He gets off his feet so freaking quickly and no floater seems out of his reach.  Ask Jared Dudley (although, don’t ask him about his 5 threes).  Awesome stuff on the Dudley block, and he was inches off several others.  The young guys are far from perfect defensively (we still guard the three point line as though it were 1978), but they’re able.  That’s a good place to start if you’re Byron Scott.

(Non-Sequitur: Manny and Eyenga, a gift from Who?)

Okay, now on to the important stuff.  Baby names.  More specifically, the website babyhold.com, home of the internet’s “smartest baby names search tool.”  Smartest.  So you know I’m not just pulling this stuff out of thin air.  According to the much acclaimed baby-name search tool, the name Manny is the diminutive of Manuel, meaning:

“God is with us.”

What does this mean?  What was Mrs. Harris implying?  I suspect either that God is with the Cavaliers, or God is on the Cavaliers.  Is Manny Harris God?  And if he is, what are the chances that Ron Artest’s recently recorded scouting report on Jesus is accurate?  I think it’s possible that we’ve found ourselves a hell of a player in Manny Harris.

A few more for fun?

Christian: “Follower of Christ.”  If Manny Harris is God, I think we might’ve found him a sidekick.

Plus, let’s say we add Perry Jones next year.  The meaning of Perry?  “Pear Tree.”  Our team shall not go hungry.

(Note to Colin Zvosec: I like Kyrie Irving too.  But his name doesn’t come up on the site, and that makes me nervous.)

Requisite J.J. Hickson Bullet.

How quickly things change…

What did J.J. Hickson just say to Robin Lopez?

This was the ‘athletic Paul Millsap game!’  Yeah, he’s getting blocked under the rim a lot, but when he’s being this active I can forgive a lot.  And this was a very active 23 and 17 for J.J. tonight.  I thought that 17 would easily outpace his previous career high for rebounds, but apparently he had a 16 rebound game against Atlanta last April.  Nevertheless, a new personal best.  Nine of tonight’s boards were offensive, and that represents a career high as well.

Mary Schmitt Boyer wrote this tonight regarding J.J.: “There are those who think he’s more suited for the center position, where his role is more defined than it was when he was playing power forward out on the wing, making poor decisions and launching jump shots.”  I’m one of those people.  Even last year, I thought J.J. played his best ball filling in for Shaq, within the confines of the center position.  We’ll never win a championship with him playing there, but my hope would be that he could refine his interior game enough, and really, accept that type of game enough, that he could bring it to the power forward position eventually.  He’s an energy guy with super athleticism.  9 offensive rebounds, 16 of his 23 points in the paint (the other 7 came from the line).  No part of his game should revolve around style points.

MSB added: “After the game, reporters were asking about this apparently new-found rebounding ability.”  My response: It’s always been there!  J.J. was never, and is still not, a natural defensive rebounder…but he is a hell of an offensive rebounder.  And I actually think the center position is more conducive to that portion of his game as well.  It requires him to consistently work around the rim, and it requires the opposing team to block him out with someone who is, in 99% of cases, much slower then him.  J.J. at center puts an emphasis on all the things J.J. does well.  Let’s hope this lasts for more then one game so I don’t look like an idiot.  All jokes aside, I think it will.  He seems to be mentally turning a corner, and with J.J., the most important thing is that he keeps his spirits up.

Random Asides:

The Suns – The Suns aren’t very good.  I would feel irresponsible not to mention that.  Now I just feel like a downer.

Carmelo & Leon Rose – Both on the Ryan Braun ‘S-list’ for costing us 2 draft picks.  Carmelo giveth, and Carmelo taketh away.  Only Carmelo has never giveth us anything, and I really hope we can make use of that trade exemption for something.  I’m getting antsy.  I feel like this is the point where if I were Chris Grant, I’d be peeking my head into Masai Ujiri’s office and asking, “Anybody need a trade exemption?”  It sucks having to operate with an expiration date on your number one asset.

Speaking of trades, I’m glad we never traded for Vince Carter – He suddenly looks like he’s about 50 years old.  And for whatever reason, the number 25 isn’t helping.  It’s not even that he was awful tonight, he just suddenly looks out of place.

Grant Hill – It didn’t hit me that Grant Hill went down until the post-game show.  I’m sure that helped us a bit, but I hope he’s back relatively quickly.  I don’t think there’s a guy on the planet who would wish ill upon Grant Hill.  (Save for maybe John Gabriel.)

When Manny Harris shoots a jumper – It looks as though he’s being controlled by an NBA Live player who holds the shoot button about ½ a second too long.  He shoots it after he hits the peak of his jump.  That said, if he shoots it like he did tonight, keep hitting, and holding, that O button.

Up Next:

The Lakers on Tuesday.  They’ll have a ridiculous size advantage, but if we bring this kind of energy I think we might be able to give them at least a few problems.  Also, the Cavs have some off days this week, so I assume they’ll get some much needed practice time in.  Though hopefully not at the expense of any more ankle tendons.

…………………

Once again, it’s been fun.  Actually, really fun tonight!  This was a much more passable way to lose.  Which is kind of a funny thought to be having.  But regardless, I believe you can still have fun as a fan when you’re rebuilding.  You just need something to follow.

And on that happiest of notes…

Happy Monday everyone.