This one had to leave you almost as pumped up as Byron Scott was when Baron Davis’ three pointer secured the Cavs victory in New York last night with 10 seconds left. It had everything you could ever want in a Cavs game.
The Cavaliers rallied from multiple double digit deficits, and eventually erased a 12-point fourth quarter lead on their way to beating the New York Knicks for the third time this season. Carmelo called it a grudge match, and that’s the same way the young Cavaliers and their new lead guard treated it.
Nobody was trying to friend anybody out there, just a bunch of guys trying to not only intimidate each other but simply beat each other as well. In a vaccuum, the type of effort on display in Friday night’s game was all we ever asked for as Cavs fans. The fact that it was at the Garden, with Spike Lee and his Elmer Fudd looking hat sitting courtside, just made the victory that much sweeter.
The 119-115 win over the Knicks last night was the most enjoyable win of the season for me to watch. I know they beat the Lakers just prior to the All Star game, and I do remember way back when they beat the Celtics in the beginning of the season too, but for me this game surpassed both of those from an excitement standpoint.
The Knicks had this one circled on their schedule. They were talking about it, and their two biggest stars showed up ready to back up that talk in a major way. Amare’ Stoudemire went for 41 points and 9 rebounds, and Carmelo Anthony scored 29 of his own. That didn’t matter though, sports fans.
The Cavaliers were collectively too much. They dished out 25 assists as a team (as opposed to only 13 for NY) on the way to six players scoring 13 or more points for the game, and a seventh with 11. The Knicks only had three players score 13 or more, and four who reached double figures on the night.
But beyond simply the win, beyond the fact that it was New York, and beyond the fact that it was the third straight time the Cavaliers beat the Knicks this season, this game was exciting from the standpoint that the Cavaliers stepped up individually and rose to the challenge of going after the win. Baron Davis brought the swag, Samardo Samuels brought toughness, and everybody else elevated their games around them.
Below are my thoughts on those individual efforts, in no particular order:
Baron Davis: The debut of Boom Dizzle exceeded any expectation I could have for the guy. I’m trying right now as I type this to temper my enthusiasm here, so simply put he looked real good. The best thing about his performance to me though goes far past the clutch three, the half-court lobs, the 18 points, the 5 assists, and his ability to get others actually involved in an offensive effort to find the best available shot. He took the court with the attitude of okay young fellas, I’ll run with you, and we can win, and he elevated the play of everyone around him as a result. Mo Williams never seemed to do this in my opinion, and if Baron can bring that every night he’s worth each of those extra six million dollars a year Dan Gilbert is paying to have him here.
Samardo Samuels: For the majority of the season I’ve told myself Samardo Samuels plays kinda hard, but c’mon. How can he be viewed as any type of building block for the future? Over these last two games though, I am reassessing that evalution. He balled out of his mind last night, and was the toughest player on the court with no exceptions. He took a Carmelo Anthony kick to the face on a charge that proved just as critical a single reason for the win as Davis’ three was, and finished with a gritty line that read 15 points and 6 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony said he didn’t know who Samardo Samuels was before the game, which I highly doubt, but whatever. He knows it now.
JJ Hickson: I know Stoudemire scored 41 but you’ll have that. The Hickson responded offensively with 23 of his own along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists and he looks like he’s absolutely giddy about playing alongside Davis. I know he got a tech for it, but I thought it was awesome when he got called for taunting Amare’ Stoudemire after his boy Samardo dunked on his head. For all the talk that will surround Baron’s debut, and Samardo’s monster night, it was JJ Hickson that led the Cavaliers in scoring, and he shot over fifty percent from the floor to get there.
Ramon Sessions: I was kidding, Rick, when I said on twitter last night that Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions looked like Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars in the backcourt together, but I am not kidding when I say I think they can be an effective starting tandem eventually. Sessions didn’t shoot a particularly high percentage, but he did get to 11 points on the night and finished with 6 assists. The cross-over was sick late, and I am most encouraged by the fact that after watching last night I do think Baron’s emergence can coexist with the development of Sessions. Something some were worried about initially at the deadline.
Skyenga and Gody: These two guys provided a lift the size of Luke Harangody’s shoulders off the bench. Skyenga was extremely effective from three point range – 3 for 3 from deep – on his way to a 13 point night off the bench and Gody went 6 for 11 on his way to 18 points in 21 minutes of reserve work as well. I think Harangody will be a critical bench player next year, I’m saying sixth, seventh, or eighth man type good. He was an afterthought at the deadline, but with minutes he will be effective. And when B-Diddy and Skyenga time up those lob plays a little better, Skyenga will be even more explosive on the receiving end of those lobs. Just throw it higher, Baron, he’ll get it.