Change Reigns Supreme as Cavs Top LeBron’s Heat

Perhaps all the Cleveland Cavaliers needed was some change.

A starting five featuring three players who had never suited up along side LeBron James.  Rather than pregame hugs and handshakes, the sellout crowd at Quicken Loans Arena needed a self-proclaimed King to skip out on pregame introductions, only to come back on to the floor when the lights had gone dim.

Instead of former teammates Jawad Williams and Anderson Varejao giving way to an embarrassment of riches, Cleveland needed half-court alley-oops from Baron Davis to Alonzo Gee; blocked shots and two-hand finishes from Ryan Hollins.

Maybe the environment within The Q needed to be a bit different.  With considerably less negative energy permeating from the wine-colored seats, the overall reception was not as raucous as it was on December 2 when the Cavaliers were dealt one of their more crushing, effortless defeats of the season.

Rather than providing Williams, Joey Graham and Jamario Moon with 47 combined minutes at the wing, Byron Scott needed to go with the undersized yet (somehow) effective Anthony Parker, who would surprise even the most delusional of Cavalier fans by finishing with 20 points (on 1.000 eFG%) and seven rebounds in 29 minutes of hard-nosed, determined play.  Compared to settling for mid-range jump shots, the Cavs were apparently better off attacking the rim and getting 22 combined free throw attempts from their starting frontcourt alone.

Piling on, Ryan Hollins has never taken more than 10 free throws in a single game in his entire career.  He had also never played 36 minutes in a contest. On this night, he made it to the line 12 times and led the team in playing time with 36 minutes and 24 seconds; he also exchanged words with Dwyane Wade, drawing a technical foul and a “get out of jail free” card from all in attendance.

Miraculously, Hollins finished the night +33 in terms of point differential.  Chris Bosh was -24.

Sure, the night came with it’s nail-biting moments where the Cavaliers would squander a huge 23-point lead to have the game tied up midway through the fourth quarter.  But with Davis checking in right around this mark, the Heat would go scoreless for nearly five minutes of play as the Wine and Gold would extend their lead for good as the night became such a meaningful win that even the free chalupas were an afterthought.

Dan Gilbert tossed high-fives to anyone in he could reach.  Smiles on the Cavaliers bench were ear to ear.  Head coach Byron Scott let out a huge sigh of relief.  And, perhaps most importantly, LeBron James walked off of the floor with his head down in defeat as 20,562 fans soaked in every step of his depressed march.

In the grand scheme of things, this was only the Cavaliers 14th win in a season that is nearing it’s end.  But in a picture much larger than the grand scheme, the lowly, misguided Cavaliers topped the Miami Heat at home.  It may not have been on TNT, but the world was certainly watching.  And it may not have been a complete retribution for the complete destruction that took place almost four months prior, but man it was a lot of fun to watch, even if it was just for one night.

Go Cavs.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

  • Harv 21

    Ryan Hollins should retire. Like, this morning. And in 40 years tee up the broadcast and tell them, “See how how grandpa used to play?”

  • http://www.dillonhamilton.com Dillon

    :)

  • Lyon

    I wouldn’t hate Hollins so much if he were to play like that every game. That being said, how does he play 36 mins and get 3 rebounds?

    Hell of a game, and I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but Parker was amazing.

  • Lyon

    haha Harv. very good point. Go out on top!

  • http://www.twitter.com/boxoflewine Eli

    15 wins.

    /I WILL NITPICK UNTIL WE ALL QUIT THE INTERNET

  • Joe in Wooster

    Thank you CAVS. Are they the worst team in the NBA? YES! However, last night was manning up and giving it everything… there was no hugging and buddy buddy garbage like the first game. They really lost me after that first game, but this was totally different. I honestly don’t care who is drafted as long as their attitude is like that!

  • http://FeartheSword.com Conrad

    Excerpt from my post on FeartheSword:

    I believe we all owe an apology to Ryan Hollins who had a particularly ridiculous game. After everyone complained and dogged him for being our starting center, he certainly earned his keep with this one performance. He came up with huge blocks and stadium-rocking dunks at critical moments throughout the game. Furthermore, he exchanged heated words with Wade resulting in double technical fouls, providing the intensity that the Cavaliers so clearly lacked the first time around. Additionally, it’s time to admit that we underestimated Baron Davis as a competitor. Essentially everybody in the NBA community assumed that Davis would give minimal effort after being traded from Los Angeles to Cleveland. Whether he came out to prove his doubters wrong or if he simply hated Donald Sterling THAT much, Davis toughed it out through injury and stepped up as the leader this team so desperately needed. He may be overpaid and past his prime, but Davis proved that his competitive fire remains.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

    “if he simply hated Donald Sterling THAT much…

    If my boss sat next to my desk heckling and goading me while I was at work all day, I would probably hate him THAT much also. I think it’s pretty fair to give Davis a pass for that, especially since we all know that Donald Sterling is literally the worst human being walking on the planet right now.

  • jimkanicki

    it wasn’t on TNT but the game WAS on NBATV. (fan selection.)

    Kevin McHale and especially Chris Webber were LOVING the Cavs last night. They (and the announcer who was good, but whose name escapes me) were totally into the game and at one point CWebb just came out and said he was pulling for the Cavs.

    They also had a nice postgame interview with happy Baron Davis.

    so this got a little national coverage, not TNT, but still national.

  • mgbode

    thank the NBA fans for voting that game in as the Tue game. otherwise, I would have missed it.

    Webber/McHale were funny last night. From the beginning of the Cavs basically have not shot, to well they better watch for a Heat run, to actually cheering/rooting for the upset in the end.

    It was great because I felt the same way :)

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    I missed the NBA broadcast hilarity because I was listening to Joe Tait’s broadcast. I figured there are only a few left, so I should take them when I can.

    Anyway, nothing that hasn’t been said will come from me. Loved the intensity. I’m proud of the Cavaliers today. My hope is that it results in the exact opposite of the December 2nd game: the Cavaliers continue to improve (but maybe lose by 1 point of each game, except for the Knicks game) and the Heat are sent into a tail-spin and get smacked hard in the playoffs.

  • JE

    Is there any way to get a copy of a single game on DVD? I need to have the ability to watch this game over…and over…and over as many times as I’d like.

  • The Other Tim

    LeBron’s name was called and he failed to answer the bell.
    Maybe he’s getting ready for a game 5 situation.

  • GhostToMost

    I hope one day we have a team that can beat the LeBrons in a postseason series. Last nights win was great, imagine how beating him in the playoffs would feel? It would be almost as good as winning a championship.

  • christiang

    Maybe Dolan will finally get a clue. We don’t need a ring as much as a competitive team. These kinds of games get people talking and coming back for more.

  • Christopher

    Two points from last nights game stand out to me the most:

    1. Baron Davis as overweight, old and injured as he may be is the best PG we’ve had in 10+ years. I love this man; from the backcourt alley oops, the last second off balance beat the shot clock threes to the slice across the neck motion he made nearing the end of the game.

    2. The Miami Heat are going to get crushed in the playoffs. The cavaliers played last nights game as if it were game 7 NBA finals….that is how every game will be played against the Heat very shortly. Now with as little talent as we have when the Heat go up against the Celtics/Bulls with their talent PLUS playoff faces one; it’s over.

  • BELIEVEland

    Anyone see Joe Haden courtside sporting a Baron Davis-esque beard?

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Vengeful Pat

    @jimkanicki that guy’s name is Rick Kamla. I was absolutely loving the interactions between him, C-Webb, and McHale. They are my favorite broadcasting crew by a country mile. I do like Breen, Jackson, and Van Gundy, but if Kamla, C-Webb, and McHale replaced them, I would actually watch TNT games that didn’t feature the Cavs (which is just about all of them). My wife was even enjoying their banter, and she never pays attention to games. That game last night on NBATV was kind of like the perfect storm… wish I had DVR’d it.