Overview: After an inconsistent three and a half quarters, the Cavaliers outscored the Bulls by nine points in the final six minutes to pull out a 92-85 victory over the Chicago Bulls. LeBron James finished with a final line of 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists, and became the youngest player to reach 15,000 career points.
-So, the Cavs’ leading frontcourt scorer was Leon Powe with seven points. The four centers and power forwards on the Cavs combined for a total of 16 points. Meanwhile, rookie power forward Taj Gibson went off for 20 points. Despite the fact they’ve been winning, the Cavs are really starting to feel the absence of Shaq and Z.
-The bottom line is that the Cavs never found any sort of offensive flow in this game. Mo’s jumper was dialed in for much of the game, LeBron was able to bully his way to the line, and Leon Powe grabbed some offensive boards. Nothing else worked. 10 turnovers for Mo and LeBron, who got caught out of place far too often. Eight misses, three turnovers, and one assist for Delonte. Ten combined shots for Varejao, Jamison, and Hickson, who get opportunities when there’s good ball movement. I saw the Cavs run one of their signature sets once all game, and that was a half-hearted corner dive that the Bulls easily jumped. On offense, the Cavs played like it was a pickup game.
-Fortunately for the Cavs, the Bulls are a bad offensive team missing their two top scorers and the Cavs have LeBron James. With seven minutes left, the Bulls had actually managed to take the lead by one, and the Cavs asked LeBron to bail them out. Fortunately, he obliged. LeBron went on a scorched-earth campaign from the minute he got in the game, catching an alley-oop from Anderson Varejao right after he got in and never really slowing down. LeBron scored 13 points in the final seven minutes of the game, and got an assist on the Cavs’ only other field goal during the final seven minutes. The only points LeBron wasn’t responsible for after he came in were two free throws by Mo Williams thanks to an intentional foul. It’s good to have LeBron James.
-I could dwell on how awful it is that the Cavs needed LeBron to bail them out against a team who has now lost 10 straight games. But the fact of the matter is that the Cavs have won six games in a row while with some major injuries while playing about as bad as they can play. There are worse laments to have as a fan. Also, I’m not going to pretend “give it to LeBron and pray” isn’t going to be a major part of what the Cavs do in the playoffs.
-LeBron didn’t play very well at all by his standards, and still finished with 29/11/7, two blocks and steals, and took over the game in the fourth with some soft jumpers and a ridiculous and-1. I gotta give Chicago credit — they seem to collapse on LeBron’s drives as well as any team in the league over the last year or two. I thought it was just a Tyrus Thomas thing, but maybe it’s the system. LeBron finished 9-21 from the field despite shooting a not-that-bad 5-13 from outside of the paint, and got caught with nowhere to go a number of times, which almost never happens.
-Leon Powe can find the ball and find contact. This there is no denying. I may never understand how he gets that many offensive rebounds without ever seeming to jump.
-Every time AP gets the ball, a defender dares him to take it left to the baseline, and he takes one dribble to the right and shoots a 20-footer instead, God kills a kitten. If Boobie still played for the Cavs, he would probably be a good candidate to take some of AP’s minutes.
-Jamison only getting two points has very little to do with Jamison. He gets his shots when other guys force the defense to ignore him, and the Cavs didn’t do that tonight. The question is whether he takes tonight’s game in stride or starts forcing stuff off the dribble in the next game.
-Hey, LeBron went 11-12 from the line! I’m already planning a “Why hasn’t LeBron broken 100 points in a game?” post for next week.
Bullets Of Randomness:
-Did Flip Murray and Kirk Hinrich combine to shoot 35 field goals in this game? Yes. Yes they did. They made 10 of them. By the way, LeBron and Mo combined for 31 field goal attempts.
-Gotta say I’m happy for Taj Gibson. When you see a player up-close in college, you like to think he’ll be able to do the same things in the pros, but you can never be sure. Well, Taj has picked up right where he left off at USC. Solid in the post, able to catch and finish, competent with his face-up jumper, good rebounder, good shot-blocker, and never forgets his role. Just the picture of a dependable NBA big man.
-Everything about James Johnson is intriguing. Power forward size, small forward skills, insane wingspan, used to kickbox, had a chase-down block on Mo Williams, loves to handle the ball, and wanted to ISO up against LeBron in crunch-time tonight. Also, he shoots Radmanovic-like moonballs from the outside. I feel like he’ll be a player too interesting to trade and never quite good enough to make an impact for the next three years, but I’m very willing to be wrong about that.
-Have we ever figured out what happened to Kirk Hinrich?
-Wait, the Bulls have Devin Brown AND Flip Murray on their roster? Is it too late for them to sign Damon Jones?
-Alright, that’s all for me tonight. Have a good weekend, campers.