July 22, 2014

Chris Bosh reportedly offered a max deal by the Houston Rockets

LeBron James Chris Bosh

The Cleveland Cavaliers are pursuing LeBron James and a lot of that has to do (obviously) with what is happening in Miami. Well, try and figure out how the chess pieces move with this bit of information. Chris Bosh was supposedly willing to take less money in Miami, but now he’ll have to do it in the face of a rich offer from the Houston Rockets.

I don’t know exactly what this would do to the situation. On the surface it weakens the Heat if Bosh leaves for Houston. At the same time, my paranoia is starting to set in and I wonder if maybe the Heat wouldn’t prefer one of the “big three” bolts so they can rebuild the roster with one less giant contract in favor of a couple smaller ones. Or, maybe LeBron wanted to play with Wade and Carmelo Anthony in Miami and Bosh leaving is a gift?

Again, this is just my paranoia. I’m really not sweating this. It’s fun.

Are you having fun yet? Are you tortured?

World Cup, Ed O’Bannon, LeBron’s choice and more… While We’re Waiting

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It’s Friday, the World Cup is happening and it’s summer time. What are we really waiting for? The time is now.

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I thought I’d start this week with something personal. I know nothing about parenting really. Like most of the rest of you who have done this or are doing it, there are a bunch of things you just make up as you go along. Somehow last night, the conversation in my house got to normal vs. weird. My four-year-old seemed to be turned off by the idea of being weird so I asked him.

You know who’s weird? Your daddy. You know who else is weird? Pretty much every cool person I’ve ever met. Musicians, actors, writers, even bosses and business people.

I don’t know if it made any sense to him, but when it started coming out of my mouth I became even more emphatic as I thought about it. You have these moments where you think you’re making all the sense in the world as a cultural tour guide for your children and you have no idea if it gets through or not.

And of course I worry that maybe his impressionable mind will take my message to mean that the booger-eater in his daycare class is somehow other-side-of-the-pillow cool because he just doesn’t conform to societal norms regarding Kleenex. All I can do is try, right?

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Before the World Cup started I contributed to a post at RedRight88 and thank goodness I didn’t pick Spain to win it all… Spoiler alert, I picked Argentina, but I didn’t totally avoid implication from looking stupid with regard to Spain.

Yes, they very well could. I’m not picking Spain to win the whole thing, but I’d be far from shocked if they won it all.

Ugh.

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I’ve been talking a lot about the financial bubble in sports and how it might break at some point, and the NCAA / Ed O’Bannon trial might prove it more than anything else. The problem at the root of the issue here is money. College athletics came from a place where amateurism made sense because the education was the valuable reward for playing. At some point though the money being made via TV deals and ticket sales became so big that it destroyed the whole system. If schools were just about breaking even on their football programs and weren’t paying head coaches millions of dollars and signing lucrative uniform deals with Nike, they could keep things as they’ve been for so long.

The only way to fix it? Take all the money out and truly make it amateur again. Or, it would have to be some approximation of a professional system where players get paid. The key here is that you can’t mix amateurism and the gobs of cash that result from modern day sports on TV. It’s a fascinating time to take it all in. I hope none of you are too sentimental though because change is coming and it’s going to destroy the historical system that we grew up with in college athletics.

*****

Bill Simmons was at his best with his wrap-up to the NBA finals There are lots and lots of nuggets in there, but one thing that really stuck out to me was digging deeper on the costs of conserving Dwyane Wade. While the Heat were desperately counting the minutes on Dwyane Wade, true cost of that conservation was on their most important player, LeBron James.

Nobody knows what LeBron James is going to do, but considering how he made his choice last time, would it shock anyone if he avoided this kind of situation with Wade and Bosh going forward? I hold out very little hope that LeBron James comes back to Cleveland, but I do think there would be some justice to Micky Arrison losing LeBron James and being forced to deal with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh sticking around to collect $40+ million per season for the next two years.

*****

Earlier this week, I saw this Vine somewhere and everyone in my Facebook circles loved it. It’s just awesome what some people can do with Vine. (That last sentence made me feel like someone’s grandparents.)

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Even though it was posted yesterday, I’m going to post it again. Tom Hamilton’s call of Nick Swisher’s grand slam is worthy of being posted twice.

That’s it from me for this week. Hope it’s a great weekend for you. Hug a stranger. Well, a stranger that looks like they won’t hurt you for hugging them, anyway.

Lonnie Chisenhall, All-Star? While We’re Waiting…

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Are you in tune with DiamondView? Well if you’re a Tribe fan, you should be. It’s been discussed in the past, but given a recent post by Cleveland’s Alex Kaufmann over at ESPN’s Sweetspot Blog, it’s worth bringing up again. DiamondView is the team’s proprietary analytical tool that has led to decisions from not extending Jim Thome as as he was approaching his mid-30s all the way to the power surge recently shown by All-Star hopeful Michael Brantley. Naturally, not all moves have been great—DiamondView loved Matt LaPorta (along with every minor league scout in the game), and it’s “inability to contextualize” the statistics of draft hopefuls, leading to a largely suspect farm system.

DiamondView is the Tribe’s. It’s a tool that is largely mysterious, was revolutionary when it was created, and continues to evolve as the analytical world does the same. But in what is perhaps the most interesting note, former Indians scouting director—and current GM of the San Diego Padres—Josh Byrnes once offered top prospect Carlos Quentin in a trade for a copy of the program. The Indians said no.

***

Should Lonnie Chisenhall be in the All-Star discussion? As of this publication, the Tribe third baseman is 20 plate appearances shy of qualifying for any rewardable batting statistics. Presently, if you set the bar at 175 plate appearances, he leads all of major league baseball in hitting with a .365 average (his .951 OPS is nothing to be ashamed of either). The Indians have 32 games between today and the All-Star game, meaning that Chisenhall would have to play in roughly every contest between now and then to get his minimum appearances—the bar is set at 3.1 per game—to a qualifiable level. He’s hitting righties and lefties at a clip no one saw coming—the latter at a .542 mark. IF he would get there, is this turnaround worthy of a nod? We are talking about a guy who was on the fence once the team was waddling things down to 40 men this past spring. But man, what a story this kid has been thus far.

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Those of you who know me know that I’m a big fan of all things technology. I’m a big fan of magazines—I dig long form writing, and the editorial care and design is something that allows them to still have value today. And I appreciate late-night television, specifically the work done by everyone involved with Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Alas, it goes without saying that Joshua Topolsky—long-time tech journalist, visionary and Editor in Chief of The Verge, one of the best tech sites on the web today—getting the nod as Late Night’s Tech Expert is pretty damn cool.

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Oh, hey…Look. Scott Kazmir threw seven shutout innings and the Athletics pounded the Orioles 11-1 on Sunday. Kazmir, who has been almost unhittable, allowed just four hits and two walks, striking out seven. The strong outing was a continuation of what’s been a terrific first half for the former Indian lefty, as he’s 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 70/17 K/BB ratio in 82 innings. The Tribe rotation has been decent for much of the season, but man…

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A big congrats goes out to the QTV team over at Quicken Loans Arena as their trophy case just welcomed another addition. The hard-working folks behind the scenes took home another Regional Emmy this weekend, winning Best Promotion (Sports) for their intro video. This is as good of a time as any to remind you all of the feature I wrote about this very group a couple seasons ago.

***

And just because: D-Wade being D-Wade.

Video: LeBron James counts Dwyane Wade’s illegal steps

There’s a GIF (pronounced Jiff) going viral right now where Dwyane Wade catches the basketball and takes seven steps without dribbling. It is kind of sad for the NBA, but funny at the same time. Because this is the modern world and the Internet exists, it is starting to take on even more new lives. This is my favorite iteration so far. Watch as LeBron counts Dwyane Wade’s steps in this video.

[Also see: The end of an era - Andrew Bynum traded for Luol Deng]

Scott Raab on LeBron James, “The Block,” Josh Gordon, Chris Perez and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-10

WFNY Podcast LogoScott started off the day making fun of my Keurig machine. After that we talked a lot about sports and a bit about neckties and contrived fashion.

  • Keurig machines and how communist they are

  • Neckties and bow ties

  • The idea that the necktie is a marker at all is strange

  • The band concert uniform

  • Suspenders vs. belts

  • Gallagher and an impromptu balloon animal show for porn stars

  • Dwyane Wade and his short pants

  • LeBron James and “The Block”

  • The Beatles were New Kids on the Block before they were

  • Brody Baum and the Chris Perez debacle

  • It’s hard to lose this many baseball games in a row

  • Bullpens are the most volatile things in baseball

  • Rafael Perez and Betancourt fell off year over year

  • People feeling alienated from baseball

  • The Gus Johnson effect and whether it could hit baseball

  • Bruce Buffer and his brother Michael Buffer

  • Owen Wilson’s alleged suicide attempt

  • Josh Gordon and his problems

  • The two game suspension and what it means

  • Codeine and whether or not you could know about it

  • The cultural awareness of codeine and how it’s tough to claim ignorance

  • The marijuana culture and how we’ll look back on it

  • Dehumanizing the opposition

  • National service and if we could really implement it

  • The ESPN-ification of sports

  • Esquire.com for sports commentary with Scott Raab

  • The Raab Factor [Read more...]

2013 NBA Finals – Brian Spaeth breaks down the Heat and game 2 in 10 minutes – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-09

WFNY Podcast LogoBrian and I decided to talk a little basketball today after the movie podcast. But, I’m posting the basketball podcast first, so you can pretend like it happened before the movie podcast… which will be posted later.

  • Breaking down the Heat game 2 vs. the Spurs

  • LeBron has fulfilled his potential as a player and he’s almost unhateable

  • LeBron wasn’t putting in effort during Cavs games

  • Dwyane Wade loves making excuses

  • LeBron James and his stage awareness back in the day

  • Dwyane Wade has the same game he had in 2006

  • Kind of feeling sorry for Chris Bosh

  • Bosh’s hysterical nature on the court

  • You can’t really have an opinion of the Spurs

  • “You don’t like basketball if you don’t like the way the Spurs play.”

  • Liking the NBA for stars

  • The fascination in the Heat when they lose

  • Brian would love to see the Heat get swept

  • Carmina Burana and O Fortuna

  • The Volatility of the Heat vs. the collected nature of the Spurs [Read more...]

LeBron’s lack of help in 2013 rivals lack of help in 2007

Big 3

Jordan had Pippen, Kobe had Shaq,1 and hell even Skywalker had Solo.

No matter how amazing or perfect someone may be, everyone needs help.

LeBron was chastised for heading down to South Beach to team up with an NBA Finals MVP and a reptilion all-star. He was branded scared, afraid, and a coward for running from the challenge he and his Cavalier teammates faced in the Celtics’ Big Three and heading to the land built by cocaine and murder to form his own trio.

“He didn’t want the pressure of being the guy”, we all said.

“He’ll never be Jordan. This clearly takes him out of the conversation. He can win as much as he wants to. There would have been something honorable about staying in Cleveland and trying to win it as the man.” Chimed in Charles Barkley on 790 The Ticket in Miami after “The Decision”.

At the time I couldn’t have agreed more. With a nasty taste in my mouth I searched high and low for quotes like this to wash it out. We all wondered who would be the alpha dog on this Heat team? Who would take the last shot? Who would ride shotgun when the crew of “best friends” headed to Chipotle after practice? It’s Wade’s team, LeBron doesn’t want to be the guy we concluded. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Or Gasol []

WFNY Podcast – 2013-03-24 – LeBron, Heat, Byron Scott and Cavaliers

WFNY Podcast LogoWhile I had Andrew on the line, I couldn’t let him get away with just talking about music.

In addition to the music podcast, we spent a few minutes talking about the NBA, specifically the Miami Heat streak. We also talked about the Cavaliers and Byron Scott and losing big leads with inferior teams.


Check out this episode

Talent gives way to tiredness as Cavs collapse in Biscayne Bay

201302242007724424767-p2Ask most NBA players when the second night of a back-to-back stint rears its ugly head and they will tell you that it is halftime that opens the floodgates of fatigue and flatness. The legs slowly slip into states of wobble, the mind desires an alternative path rendering the simplest of instinctual motor skills a voluntary chore. Arms raise slower, lateral steps are a process.

During a late-December stretch that leaked into the flipped calendar, Cavaliers reserve guard CJ Miles — a veteran presence despite being just 25 years of age — waxed poetic on how he felt a lot of the ankle-knocking and heavy heads were mental; players come equipped with pre-existing thoughts of impending struggles that tend to manifest that into poor play. It’s about breaking down those mental barriers and letting God-given talent take over.

In Miami, one night after thumping the Orlando Magic, the Cavaliers appeared ready to buck this trend — what with head coach Byron Scott’s perennial emphasis on conditioning — with a third-quarter run that resulted in 36 points and a complete erasure of a 22-point deficit. Tyler Zeller and Kyrie Irving meshed jumpers with lay-ins. The Cavaliers attacked, getting to the free throw line  times. Miles erupted for 11 points in the quarter’s final two minutes adding in the ever-rare five-point play1. Then the bottom fell out.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Miles sank a 25-footer while being fouled. The Heat were subsequently whistled for a technical foul, leading to two free throws. []

WFNY Discussion: Dion Waiters’ shooting at the rim

As you may know from being a WFNY reader, the WFNY writers have a daily email chain that can linger on and on. Sometimes, we’ll discuss prom jokes and other unsurprisingly immature topics for a group of 10+ males. But also, we really have some great discussions off the cuff about sports. Today, we bring you inside the WFNY email thread for a stats-based discussion about Cavs rookie Dion Waiters.

Jacob: Here’s your stat of the day y’all: (Source: HoopData as of games played on 12/10)

Of all 174 NBA players with at least 35 FGAs at the rim this season, Dion Waiters ranks LAST in shooting percentage at the rim at 41.2% (28-68). The average of these 174 players is 64.7% (44.6-69.0). The average of the 59 guards in this list is 60.9% (40.3-66.2).

Of the 59 guards, Waiters ranks in the top-fifth (No. 11) with 15.7 FGAs per 36 minutes.
Of the 59 guards, Waiters ranks in the upper-half (No. 23) with 4.5 FGAs at the rim per 36 minutes.
Of the 59 guards, Waiters ranks in the bottom-eighth (No. 8) with a 44.5% efg. [Read more...]

Regardless of LeBron’s fortune, I already own the conclusion

One of the hardest lessons I learned from the LeBron James situation in Cleveland is that I can’t let anyone have that kind of control over me ever again. The power that LeBron James had over Cleveland was granted to him by people just like you and me. Sure, it was augmented by Phil Knight and Nike, as well as enablers that worked for both Gordon Gund and Dan Gilbert, but ultimately you can’t be sold anything if you aren’t willing to buy it. When it came to LeBron James, Cleveland bought in hard. In hindsight, too hard.

For all the stupidity that occurred during LeBron’s free agency, it was amplified by the fact that LeBron’s actions forced us to look in the mirror and question ourselves. For a lot of us we didn’t like what we saw. Andy Baskin penned a long piece about how he felt he and the media had failed in a lot of ways in covering James. Even the angriest of fans, including the few that burned their jerseys, were more than likely redirecting a lot of their own self-anger and self-hatred toward LeBron James whether they knew it or not. In hindsight, for me and I think for a lot of other fans out there, it was self-hatred fueling a large amount of the fire. It is important to know that. It doesn’t let James off the hook as catalyst and key figure in the situation, but it is a far more balanced and intellectually honest view and baseline to begin any conversation on the topic. [Read more...]

Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and paying Olympians

I don’t usually go outside the realm of Cleveland sports for my topics, but I just couldn’t resist this one.

While searching through pieces last night for inclusion in While We’re Waiting this morning, I came across a piece at Ball Don’t Lie about a pair of NBA stars that believe they should be paid for their time on Team USA at the Olympics. Ray Allen went first on Tuesday saying he thinks players deserve ‘an enticement’ for representing the country in the summer games-

“You talk about the patriotism that guys should want to play for, but you (need to) find a way to entice the guys. It’s not the easiest thing in the world if you play deep in the playoffs and then you get two, three weeks off and then you start training again to play more basketball where it requires you to be away from home and in another country. It’s fun, but your body does need a break.”

“Everybody says, ‘Play for your country.’ But (NBA players are) commodities, your businesses. You think about it, you do camps in the summer, you have various opportunities to make money. When you go overseas and play basketball, you lose those opportunties, what you may make… If I’m an accountant and I get outsourced by my firm, I’m going to make some money somewhere else.”

[Read more...]

Familiar Faces Return to Cleveland as Cavaliers Host the Miami Heat

Cavs have one last chance to stop LeBron and the Heat this season

The LeBron James circus is in town Friday as the Miami Heat (23-7, 2nd in the East) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (11-16, 10th in the East) square off for the final time this season.

In each of the first two matchups between these two teams, the Cavaliers played tough, hanging in there with Miami through 3+ quarters. But just as an older brother sometimes lets his younger brother hang around before ultimately playing hard at the end to beat him, so too did the Miami Heat manage to play hard in the final minutes and put the Cavaliers away. We’ll see if the 3rd time is the charge for Cleveland or if the injuries and talent deficiency will just be too much to overcome yet again.

Cleveland will once again be without Anderson Varejao, Anthony Parker, and Daniel Gibson. With their only two true SGs on the team out, the Cavaliers will turn to Alonzo Gee to start at SG, leaving Ramon Sessions and Ben Uzoh as the only guards on the bench, and both of them are PGs. I’d expect to see a lot of Sessions at PG with Irving sliding over to SG when Gee is needed either at SF or on the bench. It’s not an ideal situation to move guys around when playing a team as tough as the Heat, but this is part of why the Cavaliers’ flexibility was listed as a team strength before the season. There are a lot of interchangeable combo players on this roster, and it should make things a little easier to adjust. [Read more...]

Cavaliers Will Try Again To Steal a Win in Miami

Kyrie Irving and the Cavs fell just short in Miami last month

For the 2nd time this season the Cleveland Cavaliers (9-13, 9th in the East) will travel to Miami to take on the Heat (18-6, 2nd in the east). The last time out, the Cavaliers were struggling mightily and it was starting to look like their upstart season was unraveling. In many ways, that Miami game turned out to be one of the more important games of the season, as the Cavaliers were able to limit LeBron James to 18 points in a very tight 92-85 loss.

Usually you’d prefer a win be your watershed moment rather than a loss, but in this case, the Cavaliers had just been absolutely eviscerated by both the Bulls and the Hawks and some wondered if the wheels were coming off. By hanging in there and fighting tooth and nail with the Heat, the Cavaliers showed a real spirit in not giving up and not succumbing to their opponents’ will just because of the disparity in talent.

This time around, the Cavaliers face the Heat with some confidence and momentum on their side. After a week of insane 4th quarter comebacks and big wins over Boston and Dallas, the Cavaliers should feel a lot better about their chances. [Read more...]

NBA News: Miami Heat Take Shot at Cavs and Raptors

The Miami Heat apparently need some more of their faithful to “Fan Up” to see three of the greatest stars the NBA has to offer over the next couple of games.  Isn’t it amazing when a team marketing department has to work this hard to sell what would be the easiest ticket in the world to sell in a real sports town with real sports fans?  I pity them, really.

Oh well. I guess I’ll just stop my whining now.  Serious question though. Has anyone ever seen the tip in Miami live?

Cavaliers Taking Their Struggles To South Beach to Face the Heat

Wait, we’re not tired of the “taking my [blank] to [blank]” jokes yet, are we?

The struggling Cleveland Cavaliers (6-9) must go to Miami where they will face the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Heat (11-5).

In some ways, both teams are having similar starts to their seasons as they had last year. The Cavaliers started off showing some spunk, winning games here and there, threatening the .500 mark, before the wheels came off.

The Heat started off better this year than they did last year, but they come limping into their first game with Cleveland, a team not exactly having things go as smoothly as they had hoped.

Of course, we all remember what happened in last year’s December 2nd matchup. The Heat sparked their season back into form and never looked back. The Cavaliers never looked back either. They just allowed defeat into their hearts and went on to set an NBA record losing streak.

So what’s going to happen this time? [Read more...]

Bill Simmons Says “The Decision” Worked

Bill Simmons used his recently launched venture, Grantland, to deliver an article about how “The Decision” was the best thing that has happened to the NBA in 15 years.  No. Really.  He used his new venture on Grantland, where it is supposedly not merely about driving traffic and hits, to proclaim that an event that disrupted the entire structure of the NBA was good for the league. His proclamation is based almost exclusively on ratings.  So, let me rephrase.  Bill Simmons started a venture, Grantland, where quality is derived almost exclusively by not blindly chasing Internet traffic spikes and yet the league he cares so much about was served proudly by an event of extremely questionable taste and judgment because it supposedly drove up ratings?

I don’t really want to talk about LeBron James anymore.  I don’t want to talk about my feelings or what a self-centered egomaniac I think he is.  It is all tired.  It has been stated ad nauseum and there is a specific reason that I am staying away from watching these NBA finals.  I refuse to co-sign for what occurred in the league dynamic this season.  I realize fully that my little “vote” counts for very little in the ratings book.  Trust me, it isn’t about me trying to punish anyone with a “powerful sword” that I have at my side.  It is more about not torturing myself as I vote “none of the above.”

None of that means that I don’t have opinions about the league and what it has become / is becoming.  I will always have an interest in the business of sports.  That is where I have the most problem with Bill Simmons’ latest column claiming that “The Decision” worked.

Let’s get into some of the specifics. [Read more...]

Why I Can’t Root for the Celtics

As the Miami Heat leads their series with the Boston Celtics, ESPN reports that the Celtics provided the blueprint for what LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh put together in Miami.  “Seeing guys make sacrifices to come together and play as one.  They set the blueprint and went out there and did it.  They won a championship.  They competed every year” James said.

“With LeBron losing to Boston in Cleveland in the playoffs, he felt like, ‘I gotta do more, I need to be around more to contend for a championship,’ ” Wade said. “Me feeling the same way going into the summer, saying that I needed more, it was because of Boston. They knocked us out.” [Read more...]

The Indians Help Me Ignore the NBA Playoffs

Yesterday afternoon after the Indians completed their sweep of the Detroit Tigers, I was all set to watch Boston vs. Miami in the NBA playoffs.  I had it on and I was kind of watching until I realized that I really didn’t care.  LeBron James and the Miami Heat were winning the game and instead of feeling invested in KG and the Celtics, I was actually completely apathetic.  I wasn’t angry about the Heat and their league-ruining formation.  I wasn’t interested in the farcical “feel-good” storyline that would suggest I could find a way to root for the Celtics.  As it turns out, I was more interested in watching Kathy Ireland pretend to be a kicker in the 1991 Scott Bakula vehicle, Necessary Roughness on cable.

I joked over the weekend that Chris Antonetti is a much better GM than Mark Shapiro.  The guy takes the Indians GM job and all of a sudden the Tribe gets off to one of the hottest starts in their history.  Regardless of my attempts at humor, Shapiro, Antonetti, and Manny Acta are largely responsible for putting me in a position where I don’t feel the need to be invested in the NBA playoffs.  It’s awesome though.  It is freeing to not have something so negative get a hold on you.  And to be able to replace it with something so positive?  Awesome. [Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]