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In their worst offensive performance of the year, the Cavs were manhandled on both sides of the floor and were beaten handily by the Rockets as LeBron James was rendered ineffective.
First off, sorry for the lateness. Catastrophic technical difficulties last night.
I think that was the best I’ve ever seen LeBron James defended. He’s certainly had worse games, and 21 points on 21 shots isn’t terrifyingly bad, but he was playing into the Rockets’ hands from the opening whistle on. The Rockets kept him out of the lane by forcing LeBron directly into their helpers, Yao Ming did a great job of protecting the rim, Artest stayed physical with LeBron, and Battier really did always seem to be one move ahead. At one point, I looked over to make sure Michael Lewis wasn’t telling LeBron what to be doing out there.
LeBron’s had horrendous shooting nights before, but even then his impact is generally undeniable-he’s getting teammates involved, he’s forcing the defense to come to him and adjust, he’s freeing up a side of the floor, he’s scrapping and getting extra chances, he’s everywhere at once. In this one, the Rockets were able to render him so ineffective and frustrated when he went to the basket that they actually turned him into a jump shooter, the mythical holy grail of defending LeBron. They were also able to perfectly control his catches so that he never got the ball anywhere near the scoring area.
LeBron spent much of the night catching and shooting directly, and while that allowed him to shoot decently (6-14 eFG% on jumpers, better than his season average of 41%), it took him away from what he’s best at, which is getting other teammates involved. Basically, he was playing like a poor man’s Mo Williams, which is not something someone with his gifts should be doing. 8 long twos out of 21 shots is not a repeatable plan of action. The worst part was when he made the move to make twice in a row in the second quarter, getting past the first defender and pulling up for an on-balance jumper just past the elbow, only to miss it twice in a row.
I tip my cap in a massive way to Houston’s defense tonight-we knew their perimeter defense was going to be absolutely insane with Artest and Battier healthy, and that’s what we saw tonight.
Delonte was also a major culprit tonight, as he’s someone that gets looked towards in a major way to get the ball moving when LeBron’s loaded up on and get motion on that weak side, but Artest and Battier were doing so well without needing doubles that Delonte didn’t have openings, but he was still completely ineffective.
As is usually the case when we play a team that’s got us figured out defensively, Mo’s long jumpers off the dribble were the best thing going for our offense.
I don’t even want to talk about Ben’s injury right now. I guess if any starter has to go down, he’s the best one? Bargaining, I know.
Didn’t LeBron used to love being on national TV?
Bullets of Randomness:
On the other side of the ball, Yao Ming just killed us. He’s really, really good.
I feel like this team is better off without the most overrated player in basketball. Although to be quite honest, Shane Battier could take McGrady’s title in the forseeable future.
The Baron von Wafer absolutely killed us as well. That man is a microwave. Could we switch Boobie for him before and see who notices? They both like to shoot and have stupid hair!
Kyle Lowry is an absolute money player. Lowry/Mayo is a very good backcourt for the next half-decade. STOP THINKING THAT GUARDS WHO AREN’T GOOD SHOOTERS CAN’T BE REALLY GOOD. I always drooled when he’d be rumored to be coming here in a Mike Miller deal.
The good news is that we get to play the Spurs right away and try to right the ship. I sincerely mean that.
PS-I changed the box because light-on-dark text makes me crazy-Agree? Disagree? Better the other way? I’m the world’s worst web designer, so I need feedback on these things.
Oh, and go check out Arnovitz’s writeup of this game. It’s tremendous.