Overview: Led by a dominant LeBron James, the Cavs cruised to an easy 105-92 victory in New Orleans. Zydrunas Ilgauskas played 17 minutes in his first game back with the team, and JJ Hickson went for 20 points on 9-11 shooting.
This was a LeMasterpiece, plain and simple. LeBron controlled the game, and did it in a variety of ways. 38 points on 73% True Shooting is impressive on its own, but it’s the way LeBron got his points that really made it a special game. LeBron was dangerous from everywhere on the floor.
He constantly took the ball to the block when the Hornets put a smaller defender on him and showed a series of nice post moves over either shoulder. He pulled out an array of beautiful floaters and in-between shots with his right hand. He was active on the weak side and got a number of easy layups and dunks by moving without the ball. He was 3-5 on mid-range jumpers outside of the paint. His passing was laser-sharp as well. He worked the pick-and-roll beautifully, found cutters, and did a great job rewarding his bigs running the floor when the Cavs pushed the ball. An ultra-efficient, dominating performance.
-The Hornets have some major issues with their weak-side defense, and the Cavs were more than happy to point that out. There’s a reason New Orleans allows 45 points in the paint per game. The Cavs got 58 on Wednesday night, and they did it with only five fast-break points.
JJ Hickson was active all night, and the Hornets fell asleep on him time and time again. Hickson got 20 points on 9-11 shooting, and he played just about a perfect JJ Hickson game. He slipped picks and ran the floor for easy dunks. He made some beautiful moves around the basket to avoid the rotating defender when he was a step late. This was JJ at his absolute best.
-Mo’s shot was off, but he did a really good job of running the offense and being where he was supposed to be. It’s a very good sign that Mo can finish with eight assists and a +20 on a night where he wasn’t hitting shots.
-Anthony Parker was also cold from deep, but I actually liked what he was doing. He didn’t force shots, made crisp passes when he got closed out on, and played solid defense. No three-point shooter can be on every game, but AP did the little things to make up for his bread-and-butter not being there.
-Big Z looked rusty, but it was good to see him back. We’ll see how he does with the home crowd behind him. Interestingly, both Jawad and Powe were left out of the rotation to make room for Z.
-Delonte was hot like fire coming off the bench. He has a number of weapons as a scorer, and they were all working in the second quarter. He’s so good with his left around the basket when he can’t quite get the corner for a layup, and his outside shot was falling. His 11 straight points to start the 2nd definitely helped the Cavs get separation.
-Workmanlike effort for Antawn. Hit a few jumpers, got some floaters, and made some layups. 11 points on 10 shots, and 11 rebounds. Nothing to write home about, but a solid game.
-Strong defensive effort from the Cavs as well, who made the Hornets work for all their baskets. Only Collison and Songaila shot better than 50% from the floor, and Paul and Thornton combined to go 10-25 from the field with only three free throw attempts.
Bullets of Randomness:
-Part of me is sad that new Scrubs got cancelled. It was a very flawed show whose time had passed, but Dr. Mahoney is one of the funniest women I’ve seen on a TV show in a long time, and her boyfriend was a perfect foil. The Hornets are kind of like new Scrubs. They have one veteran worth building around (Dr. Cox/CP3), and two promising young stars as well. (Collison/Thornton and the aforementioned pair of actors.)
However, way too many overpaid vets on this squad who aren’t doing much and shouldn’t be there while the team tries to rebuild. Okafor isn’t guarding the paint and has one of the worst contracts in the league. Posey barely even tried to guard LBJ. Peja is hurt, again, and isn’t a 10+ million player when he’s healthy. David West isn’t a star, or close to being one. Songalia is way overpaid. This team is a mess, and there’s no easy fix.
-Epic broadcaster jinx early on when they mentioned that DWest had hit 40 free throws in a row. Don’t mess with one of Dell Curry’s records, is the lesson here.
-LeBron was credited with zero blocks, but I feel like I distinctly remember at least two. Maybe LP broadband didn’t give me a good enough view, but didn’t he chase down Collison, a guy many consider the fastest player in the league?
-Shame to see CP3 rusty, but there were some flashes of what he can do when he’s on. Man, that guy can throw a bounce pass.
Alright, that’s it for me tonight. Until tomorrow, campers.