Cavs 109, Grizzlies 111 (OT): LeBron Comes Up Short

James on five“Every eight games or so the Cavaliers have one of these games.” Austin Carr

What kind of game are we talking about Austin? You are absolutely right by the way. I don’t know if you could put a number on it, but every couple of weeks the Cavaliers have an absolutely ugly game like this one. They have a game where LeBron feels like he has to do everything in order for the team to win, and nobody tells him he’s wrong.

Now, they often win these games. That might just be part of the problem. LeBron actually IS good enough to beat some teams by going to the one on five offense. Last night they committed too many turnovers and had too many defensive lapses to overcome.

I’m trying not to “overreact”. I think it’s fair to be concerned about it though. Remember the playoffs last year? The team was rolling through the Hawks after completely destroying the Pistons by playing a fantastic brand of team basketball, and then there was that game where LeBron just decided he was going to revert back to the old stand-by. Everyone one else go stand in the corner and I’ll call you if I need you. We saw it again last night. LeBron would get the rebound, or get the inbounds pass and Mo would walk towards him to get the ball to set up the offense, only to be waived off by James. It seems like the team might be better off in the long run if LeBron would let the team concept play out, even if they lost some tough games in the short term.

Ironically, I wrote just the other day that I was impressed that James was not trying to be the focal point of the offense as much lately-

Secondly, LeBron James scored only 14 points on 10 shots. In fact, over the last 4 games LeBron has taken 10, 15, 17 and 20 shots respectively. All games in which the Cavs won handily. The point here is that the team is relying on LeBron to be the offense, and LeBron isn’t determined to keep up his scoring average. That’s a good sign.

The Cavs found themselves in match-up trouble against Memphis, and certainly could have used Jamario Moon (TD will have more on that later). But there were guys who were playing well. Daniel Gibson was hot, hitting all three of his triple attempts. He played only 15 minutes however, and didn’t get to take a shot down the stretch in the fourth or in OT. Shaq had Marc Gasol in serious foul trouble, but the Cavs weren’t able to put the nail in that coffin. Gasol picked up foul number 5 with 4:40 left in the third quarter. He came back in the game with 5:30 left in the fourth and never picked up his 6th foul.

But the real Cav killer last night was Zach Randolph. Watching the game live I kept thinking that Randolph was going to have to take a break at some point in the game, but looking at the box score confirmed what I thought. Randolph played over 47 minutes in this one. Gotta hand it to Memphis, there was no reason to take him out if he was able to go. Once Varejao fouled out we had nobody to stop him. Randolph torched JJ Hickson and the Cavs for 32 points.

Here’s hoping that last night’s final Memphis play will serve as a reminder to Mo Williams that he can’t go under the screen. And here’s hoping that we don’t see a return of the one on five offense again. For a while.

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

  • JJ

    we were outcoached like always. playing well in the first half and then the other team makes the proper adjustments and we (coach brown) are stuck in panic mode.

  • clevexaminer

    Great analysis, was thinking the same thing watching last night. Didn’t LeBron score all the Cavs OT points? That’s unacceptable. I don’t get why he feels he has to take the last shot EVERY time, with Mo and Boobie on the floor. Teams are hip to the fact that LeBron will not be passing the ball at the end of a game. Someone else needs to take a last shot to free things up later in the year.

  • AMC

    In 4 of the 6 Cavs losses (Celtics, Bulls, Wizards, Griz) the Cavs have had double digit leads and then collapsed badly down the stretch – abandoning their offense and playing tight. In their other two losses (Toronto and Charlotte), the Cavs didn’t bring their A game and then attempted to rally after they had dug themselves too big of a hole.

    Both of these types of losses are troubling to me and reflect poorly on the coach and, as much as it pains me to say this, LeBron. He sets the tone for this team. In the collapse games, LeBron’s offensive game tightens up and the ball stops moving. Mike Brown is not assertive/credible enough to make this stop. And as Rick astutely points out, it often works, to the detriment of the overall team and to LeBron. And the worst part of this is that it leads one to believe that this team has not learned the lessons of the Orlando series, where the exact same collapse pattern played out in 2 of the four losses (Games 1 and 4) and was barely avoided by a miracle shot in one of the wins (Game 2).

    It’s still early in the season, and this team, when firing on all cylinders, is better than last year’s crew, but the team is going to have to fix this if they want to reach the ultimate goal, and at the end of the day, it’s on LeBron to make that happen.

  • Chris

    @ JJ – I highly doubt that Brown told Lebron at halftime to stand around at the top of the arc for 10-15 seconds then shoot.

  • JJ

    @Chris – this is true. definitely a combination of lebron going into that mode we all hate – yes, he hit a few 3s, but why the hell does he ALWAYS try that fade away off-balanced 3 from the corner at BIG moments in the game. But why didn’t we use Gibson more? When someone’s hot – let them shoot!

  • Clown Baby

    I liked how Memphis came out of their timeouts and ran plays where more than one person touched the ball and kept us guessing who was going to shoot and where they were going to shoot from. That was some pretty fancy coaching.

  • ManSleezee

    A big part of what killed the Cavs’ lead last night was Brown not calling a timeout while it was slipping away in the third quarter to either get new personal out on the floor or to just get in the team’s ear and tell them to take better care of the ball. He left the starting – turnover prone (I’m looking at you Hickson) and defensive lapsing (I’m looking at you again Hickson) unit out there way too long in the third quarter and it swung the game.

    I know Andy’s foul trouble played into this, but Brown has got to insert himself into games like this more and adjust when leads are slipping away. Aren’t all their losses this year, except the Toronto game, games that swung down the stretch after the Cavs blew big leads? I can’t remember what happened against Charlotte, but it was definitely the case last year against Orlando in the playoffs. Brown has got to sack up and lead this team. And yes, even if that means getting in LeBron’s face to make sure the ball keeps moving.

  • ManSleezee

    Sorry folks. Meant “new personnel”. Hope no one took it personal.

  • J-Dub

    I thought the problem last night was Mo. He was basically in his hometown, had 50 people there watching, and simply tried to take the game over and put up 40. He played sloppy and took a lot of ill-advised shots. I think Lebron’s takeover was more him trying to calm Mo down and get the ball out of his hands in the 2nd half. Soon ‘The Nail’ offense came out and they never got back on track.

  • Swig

    I love the idea of keeping the ball out of LeBron’s hands at the end of the game. Use this tactic until the all-star break, take some lumps, see what happens. If LeBron wants the ball make him catch it 10 feet from the hoop instead of 25+ feet.

  • S-Dub

    There was some questionable officiating last night on both sides, but that’s not what lost the game.

    It wasn’t even the offense that lost that game. It was sloppy D by Shaq and JJ, it was 3 TO’s in a row on LAZY passes by Mo Williams and it was not having Jamario to guard Rudy Gay.

    The game winning shot by Conley was misplayed by Shaq and JJ. Shaq has got to square up and not let the little guy run past him. He could’ve then at least fouled if he tried to drive. Also, JJ has got to leave his man and rotate help side (which is what Shaq though would happen I’m guessing). That is the growing pains that are really only going to help us in the latter stages of the season. JJ is a rookie folks and ALL rookies learn these things. LBJ took a while to learn D, especially our defensive system, and JJ is taking a while too. Really though that play starts with Shaq not playing it right.

    I was wondering why Parker wasn’t out there. Maybe he was too slow to stick with Gay and Mayo but I thought he could’ve been more effective than West who was burnt all night. Jamario is the perfect guy to guard those types of players. LBJ has to be taken to task on his D last night too because he let Gay drive with ease on that final play, and that wasn’t the first time either.

    Mo has got to run this offense for us to be good. I thought he played very uncharacteristically last night. He seemed VERY frustrated by the officiating. At the end of the day, it’s just another loss to a team that is actually pretty talented. Let’s get a win tonight.

  • Painesville

    When you only have one go-to guy on the floor, this is what happens. Look at BOS – they have 3-4 guys who are a threat to score everytime they touch the ball. If we dominate with a balanced deep-bench approach for 40 minutes, we should be able to finish that way. This one came down to coaching. Call better plays, get other people the ball, quit being so predictable.

  • ben


    1) Mike Brown fines players when they adopt the “Stand-in-the-Corner-and-let-LeBron-Beat-Everyone” Offense.

    2) Mike Brown fines himself everytime he calls the “Stand-in-the-Corner-and-let-LeBron-Beat-Everyone” Offense.

  • Swig

    Um, LeBron is the one calling for the ball, and not looking to pass (hence no one moves). Do you really think LeBron will let MB, or any coach for that matter, tell him what to do?

    Also, chill out people. It’s a random game in the middle of a long season. Losses happen.

  • Dave

    “Mo has got to run this offense for us to be good.”

    I’m not sure if it has to be Mo: I’m fine with Delonte running the offense when he’s having a good day. What we can’t do, though, is have LeBron run the offense, for the simple reason that too many of the other Cavs stop moving when he does.

    LeBron can beat 1 guy easily. He can beat 2 guys pretty easily. He can beat 3 guys a lot of the time. He can even beat 5 defenders sometimes. But he’s not going to beat 5 defenders as often as his teammates are going to beat 1 defender, and LeBron sometimes needs to be reminded of that.

  • Ike

    I’m so fed up with losses like this and the one @ Charlotte last week.

    Until the Cavs avoid letdown games like this, I cannot yet put them up there with Boston and Orlando. And yes, I’m aware we already beat the Magic.