In a redux of their meeting in Los Angeles, the Lakers survived an early barrage of three-pointers from the Cavs and manhandled them in the second half to take the game. There were few fireworks from LeBron and Kobe, and the game ball ended up going to Lamar Odom, who finished with a season-high 28 points and 17 rebounds. The Cavs lost their first home game since May 1, 2008.
This is not my favorite day to have a Cavalier blog.
In the first half, the drive-and-kick game was in full effect, with LeBron mostly probing for seams and swinging the ball back out. The passing was crisp around the perimeter and almost all the shots were catch-and-shoots, with Mo, Pavs, and the still-red-hot Wally combining to go 7-10 from deep in the first half and Z going 5-7 on his mid-range jumpers.
In the second half, there just wasn’t any offensive rythym. At all. Delonte being out hurts here, but a lot of it was falling in love with the jumpers that were going down in the first half and not knowing what to do when the looks didn’t go down.
When that happens, normally what the Cavaliers get is LeBron James going to the basket and making a hoop. He’s the best in the league at it, maybe of all time, he shoots 72% from the immediate basket area, it’s the bedrock of this offense of LeBron’s game. So when LeBron goes 2-8 from the immediate basket area, there are going to be huge problems. That’s just it.
Just like in Los Angeles, the Lakers were able to get a wall with their 2nd defender to keep LeBron from getting easy finishes at the rim, and LeBron tried to deal using full-speed bankers or floaters to no avail. The refs weren’t looking to bail him out, either, possibly effected by Phil Jackson’s prior comments on how LeBron “gets away with murder” at home. When that’s not going, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the Cavalier offense collapses upon itself, and that’s what you got tonight. It’s very, very disquieting, because this is the type of defense we’re going to see in the playoffs, which are the only games that really matter at this point, and I’d love to see LeBron implement a better plan of attack when his lanes to the rim aren’t clear-more patience and a go-to move where LeBron gathers and rises rather than flings at full speed would be advisable, as well as more of a mid-range game-16 of his 20 shots were either in the immediate basket area or threes. But in the end, you try to look at the forest and trust the results instead of going insane over one off shooting night.
Andy continues his run of playing really, really terrible basketball, showing absolutely no energy to work angles on offense, which is kinda how he gets points, not showing hard on defense, and staying grounded on rebounds. He’s a hugely important player for this team and needs to show that he’s a guy you can have out there in crunch-time.
Ben’s interior passing-great. Blowing two wide-open dunks: not as great.
Mo Williams on shots that are not threes: 4-15. So maybe a rock-solid mid-range game wouldn’t have kept LeBron from being off tonight.
J.J., YOU GOTTA BOX OUT. That is all.
Bullets Of Randomness:
Fairly quiet night for that Mamba fella, as apparently he was battling a touch of the flu and, more importantly, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol were having an absolute hammer party down low, with Lamar shooting 13-19 from the field and Pau, who looks worlds better when Bynum doesn’t play, directing traffic and getting 6 assists.
Kobe’s off-ball movement in the first quarter to get low catches was an absolute thing of beauty, as were his little mini-jumpers to get the buckets. I think one reason why so many people go with Kobe over LeBron despite the evidence to the contrary is that Kobe’s solved a lot of the problems LeBron has and the difference is evident, while the things LeBron does better than Kobe are either more subtle or a result of pure athletic talent-he just seems like he’s at a further point on his development curve. And that turnaround to end the game was absolutely ridiculous.
Lamar Odom was everywhere. He absolutely made a living in the paint. If Andy’s going to be off in la-la land, bigs with real speed are going to give this team fits. 2 shots for Odom outside the paint. Two. Andy is the guy who’s supposed to keep this from happening.
Well, that about does it. The Lakers are your consensus #1 in the power rankings. They win absolutely nothing. The Cavs have been defeated at home. The MVP race is now debateable.
Thing Of the Game:
Last time the Cavs lost at home, Hillary Clinton was still in the presidential race and, in fact, had primaries still to win. I would end with a song from May 2008 but don’t understand how Billboard rankings work and really don’t want to post “Bleeding Love.” Instead, take this collaboration of Kanye West and Dialated Peoples, because:
We cannot, in fact, go on living this way.
The song is a testament to the power of the collective over the individual and the importance of background players-where the guy with the flute comes through, Andy failed.
The Grammys without Kanye West just don’t feel complete.