Overview: The Cavs failed to hold on to a double-digit lead against the New Jersey Nets, and fall to .500 after a 95-87 loss. Devin Harris led the Nets with 31 points. Mo Williams missed the fourth quarter due to a foot injury.
The Cavs got out to an early lead, but never really moved the ball the way they did on Tuesday night. The high-post action wasn’t really there, and there weren’t that many passes per possession or a lot of quality cuts happening. There were a few nice plays out of transition and semi-transition (Daniel Gibson’s entry pass to Jamison for a quick post-up hoop and alley-oop feed to Hollins come to mind), as well as a few nice sets (how about that modified Kracken to get Hickson a dunk along the baseline?)
However, most of the Cavs’ offensive success came from going right at the heart of the defense and getting a layup or drawing a foul rather than keeping the floor spread and moving the ball. It worked because the Nets were playing sloppy interior defense, but it couldn’t be sustained forever. In the second half, the Nets started collapsing on the paint and stopped committing silly fouls, but the Cavs offense still ended up being Ramon Sessions or Hickson trying to convert contested shots at the basket.
Offensively, the Nets found new life when they stopped trying to force-feed Brook Lopez and let Devin Harris penetrate the lane and cause havoc. Harris is so good when he’s on — he can get all the way to the basket, he’s developed a deadly pull-up game from the free throw line area, and he knows when to make the right pass, not just the home-run pass. When Harris started getting aggressive, the Cavs always looked a step slow defensively.
ANTHONY MORROW. YOU HAVE TO GUARD HIM. AT ALL TIMES. It would be easy to attribute Morrow’s big night to Harris’ penetration, and that did play a role, but a lot of the times he got open looks because the Cavs were just being stupid. Closing out on Harris and leaving Morrow open. Jawad Williams leaving Morrow all alone to help against a Harris drive before Harris had actually made his move. Forgetting about Morrow after a Nets offensive rebound. Morrow’s a great shooter, and he’ll get his, but you can’t give him free looks. Some shameful poop, that was.
Not a great showing for the Cavs, and a sign of how much trouble this team can get itself into when they forget to run the offense. Some individual notes:
– Razor Ramon didn’t have a bad game at all, and had a lot of success attacking the basket. However, he forgot to be a point guard, and his predictable forays to the basket late in the game really stalled the offense — would’ve been nice to be able to put Mo in there.
– Awful shooting night for Boobie, but I continue to be shocked by his maturation into a point guard. He made some absolutely brilliant passes of all kinds tonight, in both the half-court and the full-court. The alley-oop to Varejao will make the highlights, but I was actually more excited by is slick entry to Jamison in semi-transition and a bounce pass to find a cutting Varejao out of a pick-and-roll.
– Antawn Jamison with a very Antawn Jamison game. 14 points on 12 shots, 9 rebounds, and scores from post-ups, catch-and-finish opportunities, and a few deep jumpers. He is so versatile, and yet his final lines end up looking so similar. Also, FREE THROWS.
– Solid games from Hickson and Varejao. They both had some nice movement off the ball and finishes, but didn’t really do great work from the high post — Varejao settled for some jumpers and Hickson was off-target from some passes. Andy’s defense on Lopez was again superb, but Hickson did show that he’s still a work in progress defensively a few times.
– RYAN HOLLINS OPUS. He’s big, he’s athletic, and he can flat-out dunk if given space. Very impressive 13 minutes for Hollins, to say the least.
– Ultimate Jawad played 12 minutes too many on Wednesday. I’d rather see Eyenga or Harris at this point — Jawad isn’t that gifted, and he makes too many mental mistakes on both ends.
– Sometimes, Anthony Parker will randomly draw defenders to the 15-20 foot range and make really nice plays off the dribble. It’s absolutely insane. Parker was once the best all-around player in Israel by a significant margin — with age and the added level of competition, I’d say that watching him is like watching a 52-year old MJ trying to make it work. It’s kind of cool.
– Stop taking pull-up jumpers, Jamario.
Bullets of Randomness:
– Freakin’ Kris Humphries.
Until next time, campers.