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.