Mo Williams Carries Cavaliers Over Kings

Mo Williams Hugs Gloria James (Tony Dejak - AP)

Mo Williams Hugs Gloria James (Tony Dejak - AP)

Cavaliers 117 – Kings 110 (box)

And the beat goes on with the Cavaliers.  First Ilgauskas goes down.  Then Delonte West follows suit.  Even WFNY writers couldn’t quite come to grips with how the team was going to compete without two of its starters. Last night, deep in the Q (shoutout A.C.) the Cavaliers played an ugly game, completely against their style, and yet found a way to win.

I don’t know if it is more discouraging that the Cavs managed to give up 110 points, or that they allowed 50% shooting to happen on their home court.  The Cavs lost the turnover battle, committing 14 to the Kings 11.  The Cavs allowed the Kings to shoot 12-25 from three last night.  Granted the Kings have some guys who can catch fire and shoot the lights out, but 48%?

Yet, the Cavs found a way to win.  Mo Williams was easily the story of the game for the Cavs.  He put up his most gaudy stat line since donning a Cavaliers uniform.  He scored 43 points on 15-24 shooting, including 7-12 from three.  He was 6-6 from the free throw line and surprisingly enough also accounted for 11 of the Cavs’ 26 assists.  He came up two rebounds short of a triple-double, but if you were wondering whether Mo belongs in the All-Star game or not, I don’t know if you have to wonder any more.

Speaking of triple-doubles, that other guy, Lebron James finished the night with 23 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.  He was impressive, as usual, but the story is how he was willing to defer on a night when his running mate was hot.  It might have even been the final lesson to James so that he realizes that his debut years with the team are completely behind him.  Jeff McInnis is not walking through that door.  Neither is Kevin Ollie or Ricky Davis.  Carlos Boozer is … well, at least we don’t think he is walking through that door.  The point being this team is worlds deeper than anything the Cavs have seen in a decade or two.

And the depth doesn’t show any more surprisingly than with Tarence Kinsey.  Kinsey has played well of late since getting an opportunity with Delonte West’s injury.  Last night, Kinsey found 18 minutes of playing time and he scored 9 points. JJ Hickson also had a good night as he continues to acclimate himself to the NBA game.  He had 11 points and 8 rebounds.

The Cavs needed performances like these because Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak struggled last night.  Wally was listless in 6:41 going 0-3 from the field and getting a single free throw.  The tempo of last night’s game with the Kings just didn’t fit him at all.  Gibson scored 10 points on 2-10 shooting, but at least he realized he wasn’t shooting well as he got himself in postion to shoot 6 free throws, converting on 5.  Pavlovic and Varejao were along for the ride last night scoring 12 and 7 respectively.

The other story of the game for the Cavs was just how many points they gave up.  110 points, including 35 to Kevin Martin and 21 to John Salmons is more than uncharacteristic.  Kevin Martin was a beast adding 7 assists and 7 rebounds to go with his 35 points.  The Kings kept going on runs to keep the game close and even take the lead a few times in the second half, and Martin was at the front leading most of them.

Brad Miller, who has been mentioned here and there as one of the potential trade targets for the Cavs didn’t do anything to blow away the Cavaliers’ crowd last night.  He scored 7 with 6 rebounds.  Still, there is no accounting for how well he might play in a frontcourt while Lebron James and Mo Williams draw defensive looks and double-teams.

I’ll be honest.  Brad Miller isn’t exactly the franchise difference-maker that I imagined the Cavs getting for the Szczerbiak bargaining chip.  Think about how the Lakers happened into Pau Gasol last season and tell me you didn’t have dreams of an all-star.  Still, it might not take an all-star to help the Cavs get themselves to the top of the NBA mountain.  At least that’s the way you have to think with the way the Cavs are playing right now finding ways to win and getting contributions from different places every night.

Next up for the Cavaliers is Thursday night at the Orlando Magic.  More importantly than who the Cavs are playing, is who is potentially returning.  Zydrunas Ilgauskas hopes to make his return to the Cavs lineup on Thursday against Dwight Howard.  It could be a big deal for the Cavs too, as Z has the ability to pull Dwight Howard away from the basket with his mid-range jumper.  Let’s hope he does just that, and of course that it isn’t too soon to come back from the foot injury.

  • Markster

    I am just happy the Cavs ownership has a sound infrastructure in place so their success can be continued for years to come.

  • boomhauertjs

    I’d be surprised if any team makes a Gasol-like trade after all of the grief the Grizzlies are still getting about making that trade.

  • terrette

    With reference to the current poll asking about potential trades, Antawn Jamison playing where Wallace plays now would, IMHO, make the Cavs an odds-on favorite to take the title. I agree with you, Craig, that a powerhouse player is not necessarily needed to put the Cavs at the top of the heap, but is there any reason to believe the Cavs could acquire Jamison?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    Great recap, Craig. It was a bummer that, every time I’d flip back over to the Jackets thinking the lead was safe, I’d come back and see the Kings had pulled back close again.

    Williams was awesome. I believe last night was his career high in points, no?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Rick

    Yes…previous high was 38 I believe.

  • CJG

    Mo was something I reserve only for special occasions….”Face-meltingly awesome.” Thats right, my face melted just watching those highlights. Amazing, simply amazing.

  • http://www.jrosen.wordpress.com Jacob Rosen

    Using the Full Court tools on Basketball-Reference.com here are all the of the records broken last night:

    – Mo Williams had the most points by a player not named LBJ in the LBJ era at 43. Larry Hughes had scored 40 in a game back on February 11, 2008 in a victory over Orlando.

    – It was by far the best performance of Mo Williams’ career. His previous career best games were a 38-7-5 performance in a win over Miami back on February 3, 2007, and a 37-6-7 outing in a loss against the Cavaliers on February 26, 2008 (maybe that’s why we thought he was so good….)

    – Don’t overlook the scoring as Williams came awfully close to his finest rebound plus assist total of his career, barely off a 19-10-11 triple double he had against Miami on December 20, 2006.

    – Mo also had the first 8 rebound, 8 assist game by anyone not named LBJ since Drew Gooden had a 24 point, 15 rebound, 11 assist masterpiece in a win over Milwaukee on April 9, 2005.

    – Mo and LBJ combined to be the first combo on the same team in the NBA to each put up 22-8-8 since Gooden and LBJ did so back in on that infamous April day in 2005.

    – In addition, today was the first day (unofficially speaking, too difficult to check) that two combos each on the same team each put up 22-8-8 performances (Boris Diaw and Raymond Felton each had such games against the Lakers in double overtime).

  • Swig

    Cavs are already the favorite from the East.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    I also can’t believe the Lakers lost to the freaking Bobcats… IN LA?!?

  • Eric

    I hope Mo gets snubbed from the All-Star game. Not that he doesn’t deserve it. (Honestly I wish LeBron wasn’t playing in it either but obviously not going to happen.) Let Mo rest and have LeBron be upset by how poorly his Cavs were represented in the game. We all know what happens when LeBron gets upset.

    We’re only half way there, and granted the Kings play defense similar to a D-Leauge team, but if the last 7 games is Mo finally meshing with LBJ – look out.

  • Eric

    @DP: Yeah agreed, kind of hurts that we got worked out by them.

  • RandyOSU

    terrette:

    No shot at aquiring Jamison. He simply has too many years and too much money on his contract. The Cavs are setting up to pair another stud (Bosh/Wade…) with Lebron in the future, and won’t lose that flexibility. Look for guys with this year and maybe next year at most left on their contracts in terms of who is possible.

  • terrette

    Thanks, Randy. Sounds reasonable enough to me.

  • Jimmy

    Tarence Kinsey needs to take Wally’s place in the rotation once everyone is healthy. He is the 3rd best perimeter defender on the team behind LeBron and Delonte, and he is constantly moving and cutting on offense. I really like his game.

  • Jay

    @ #14 Jimmy:

    “Tarence Kinsey needs to take Wally’s place in the rotation once everyone is healthy.”

    ABSOLUTELY!Kinsey has really stepped up his game since D-West has been out, and I think he’s more deserving. We’ve adopted a phrase borrowed loosley fro ‘What Would Jesus Do”, ours is WWSI (Wally Woulda Shot It). I’ve grown tired of him heaving up shots from anywhere this side of half court.

  • RandyOSU

    Jimmy, I’m right with you on TK-I’ve watched him pre-game all year and he is just a player. He’s got size, athleticism, can get to the hoop, and a decent shot. Looks a bit like Rip Hamilton. Kudos to Danny Ferry-I think he really did his homework on that one. And…..he just seems like a good kid (as most of the Cavs are). Not sure if he’s ready for primetime but he sure is a keeper. Guys like JJ and TK bode well for the future.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    Bummer to hear Gerald Wallace had a broken rib AND collapsed lung last night. He’s another guy I know Scott was curious about acquiring at the deadline.

  • http://www.jrosen.wordpress.com Jacob Rosen

    It has been amazing to see Kinsey develop over the past week and a half or so. He is making the Wally Szczerbiak trade situations look much more desirable and I am really liking the new lineups we can use with him in the game. Unlike years before, we can go super athletic and can now bring in Mo, Gibson, Kinsey, LBJ, and Andy or a rotation I have seen a lot this week in Gibson, Kinsey, LBJ, Andy and Big Ben. Both of these seem like winning scenarios to me, even when Z and Delonte come back.

  • adam rosen

    @boot aka jacob rosen aka my brother

    i loved the anlysis of the records broken last night. i knew somtin was crazy when looking at the lines lebron and mo had last night. i was wondering on how many occaisions members of the same team had triple doubles??

    as far a Z thursday… id rather not rush him back and keep him in practice and slowly work up his strength conditioning thru the all star break. anyone else agree that Z is coming back too soon?!

  • adam rosen

    a little karma…

    not only was the lakers bobcats game the exact same score of the cavs-kings tilt last night (117-110) but Shannon Brown was hittin clutch shots for the cats. All of this leads me to believe this is our year.

  • P@

    @adam, I don’t think Mike Brown will rush Z back… I think he realizes that this Cavs team is going to win games and it’s more important to keep Z healthy than to win against Orlando. I think the only way we see Z in this game is if he truly is healed and ready to play.

  • RandyOSU

    Z is expected to play Thursday……….

  • adam rosen

    “I’ve got to have the OK from Z,” Coach Brown said. “I’ve got to have the OK from the doctors and then obviously I have to make sure I give the OK.”

  • TampaBrett

    Yeah Z needs to come back. I need him on my NBA2K9 roster. Those damn smart video games!

  • Tsunami

    A win is a win. Jim Chones is right, we need to not be spoiled. Every team plays down to it’s competition on some nights. Last night, Charlotte missed 7 straight free throws in the final minutes, went into OT without Gerald Wallace, and beat the Lakers IN LA! So, I’m not going to get upset about this game. It was fairly obvious that the Cavs knew they would win and got lazy and stopped focusing on the defensive end, instead watching Mo William’s historic night. Mike Brown will right the ship. I thought this game was great because it shows me now that Mo can really hit some big shots.

  • phil

    @DP: Bummer, indeed, especially when you consider the inept way in which Bynum thrust his elbow into Wallace’s chest as Wallace charged toward the basket. What ever happened to the wrap-around? Most guys know how to use it in a pinch. Bynum seemed clueless and needs to be suspended, if only for pedagogical purposes. A little time-out for coaching would do him and everyone else a favor.