Quick Recap: Cavs 100, Nuggets 99

March 8th, 2012 by John Krolik

I’ve been doing the quick “Daily Dime” recaps on Cavs games for ESPN recently, and I really should be posting them in their entirety here. Here’s what I had for tonight, with a few additional night and an awesome Gary Clark Jr. song:

MVP: Kyrie Irving. Irving was quiet for the first half, but erupted late, scoring 10 points in the last 2:35 seconds of the game to give the Cavaliers a 1-point victory.

LVP: Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari is clearly still trying to get his legs back under him after missing significant time with an injury, and shot just 1-7 from the floor while showing very little bounce in his step whatsoever. Hopefully Gallo will get back to 100% soon, because he’s an absolute joy to watch when healthy.
Defining Moment: With 15 seconds on the clock and the Nuggets leading by one, Denver decided to put full-court pressure on Kyrie Irving. It was, to say the least, a poor decision. Irving blew by the Denver defense, crossed over to his left, and finished at the rim to hit what would be the game-winning layup with four seconds left on the clock.
X-Factor: Kyrie was Cleveland’s crunch-time hero, but the Cavaliers wouldn’t have been in the game at all if it weren’t for Antawn Jamison. All of Jamison’s offensive tricks were working early, and he scored 26 of his 33 points in the first half on jumpers, flip shots, tip-ins to keep the Cavs competitive throughout the first half and ultimately allow them to get the win in crunch time.
That was…fun: The first 9 minutes of the fourth quarter were ugly, but the final minutes of the game essentially consisted of Kyrie Irving and Ty Lawson blowing by one another and converting on and-1s and reverse layups. Lawson ultimately came up one layup short of a victory, but the real winners were the fans who got to watch two hyper-quick and very skilled point guards go right at each other with the game on the line.

Additonal notes:

I’ll give Jamison credit: he was a major factor, and his bag of tricks was way too deep for Faried in the first half. Generally, Jamison regresses to the mean after a hot start and goes back to around 50% TS by the end of the game, but this time he cashed out and didn’t shoot much in the 2nd half.

I was president of the Nene fan club last year, so I’ve been disappointed by his season and was sad about this game. Since when did Nene settle for turnaround jumpers against Jamison? He got some easy baskets, but last year Nene’s game was ALL easy baskets.

Tristan Thompson did nothing.

In some ways, I’m glad that Kyrie has made some bad late-game turnovers lately, because it allows us to appreciate fourth-quarter performances like this instead of locking him into the binary “CLUTCH OR NOT CLUTCH” argument that makes sports discussion dumber. He’s young, he’s fearless, he’s polished, and he put the team on his shoulders when it mattered tonight. He won’t do it every night, but he’s a guy you want on the floor late in games. That’s good enough for now, and it should be good enough for later for rational fans.

Fun and/or depressing fact: the Cavs have won 3 of their last 11, and all 3 of those wins have come by exactly 1 point. Without Andy, this is not a good basketball team. At least there’s Kyrie, and at least we’re hurtling towards the lottery. I’m not sure I can write about this team anymore without being bitter about no Jonas. This is not schtick — it’s legitimately painful to imagine how much better the team would be in the future with Jonas starting at center next season instead of Tristan Thompson hopefully becoming the second-best undersized left-handed Canadian big man with no offensive game to speak of in the league. Until next time, campers.