How do you know you've come a long way?
I forgot about the game last night. Here it is, the big return of Loozer, and I was sitting at a Verizon kiosk checking out new phones. It's a beautiful thing, and gives you a good idea about how much I care about Loozer's return.
I've come a long way.
After watching the game this morning, I have a few things to say. Some of them may be deemed sacreligious in some circles, but I'm only speaking the truth as I see it.
The fans really handed Loozer his ass. It was fun to watch. It wasn't nearly as voracious as I thought it would be, but it was pretty good. To bad we had to wait three years.
Larry Hughes was horrid from the floor last night, once again. I believe he was 2 for 17. Ouch. He did play great defense, and that pass to Lebron...but I'll get to that later. But Hughes' defense...solid stuff. The most impressive play last night was when he got back off a turnover and Utah was rolling down on a 3 on Hughes, and Larry came out with the steal. Fantastic stuff, really. He also filled the stat line with 8 boards and 5 assists. Seriously folks, when your point is capable of 8 boards every night, you have an advantage. This is the Hughes I want to see. No, not the guy chucking up misses, but the guy that fills the stat sheet. He also had 2 steals, and 2 blocks. This is the Lebron-mate we've been looking for.
How about that Cavalier defense anyways? This is just me, but am I the only one that thought Lebron led the defensive charge last night? There wasn't really one signature play on defense, but there was just something there, something I've seen before, but for some reason it was resonating throughout the building last night. Maybe it wasn't even his defense, but the way he was playing. Irregardless, the Cavs really stepped it up on defense, something they've been good at, but you could tell it was a total team effort.
Drew Gooden, who was brought in to take the place of Loozer, played one hell of a game last night, in particular in the second half, in particular in the third quarter. Gooden was the driving force in the defensive effort. He really can play the kind of defense at times that can get under the skin of opponents. He certainly did that. He also found the point, scoring 9 by my count. Drew ended with 14 points, and 12 boards, putting up remarkably similar numbers that Gooden would be putting up if he were a Cavalier. This tenacious Gooden is the player we need to win the title. You put him together with Varejao, and you've got (no pun intended) twice the heart and player that Loozer is. My preference is the two headed monster. My gut tells me both will be Cavs for awhile.
Carlos Loozer is one hell of a player. He did make Gooden look silly early in the game with a fine move baseline that led to a dunk. He finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds. He never would have been THAT player as a Cavalier. He didn't want to be the second fiddle, he wanted to be the star. To bad for him. Carlos, I hope the spotlight is better than a title. That being said, I'm done with you. From this point on, you're back to just another player. No need to mention a guy on a team that will never do a thing. By the way, did anyone notice the two foul shots he missed in the fourth quarter? Not bothered by the fans? Yeah, okay...
Sasha Pavlovic may be the guy that wins the Cavs a title. Most impressive wasn't his 21 points, but his 50% shooting. He hits valuable jump shots, and threes in particular. In general, you are looking at an offensive player. If he can average 15 a game for this team, they will score 100 more often than not.
Ira Newble played. Nothing really more than that, but he played. Just felt like letting you know;).
Lebron James was on fire last night. There's not really another way to say it any better than that without using profanity. I gotta tell you, that jam that he had off the Hughes pass was one of the most impressive dunks I've seen all year. Hughes just threw the ball up into the air, and any time the receiver of the pass has to redirect his body in the air to catch, than dunk, it's something special. I swear though, this time, Lebron bent nearly 45 degrees, caught the ball, and dunked with verocity. When James is coming down the floor he is a hybrid of 2 players, Dr. J, and Dominique Wilkins. He moves like Doc, that grace, and always seemingly heading to the hoop in a twisted position. When the ball goes down, it's like Dominique, at the speed of sound. What always impressed me about Wilkins was how quickly the ball went through the hoop and hit the floor. Often, Wilkins would get hit be the ball bouncing off the floor, BEFORE HE CAME BACK DOWN. Watch Lebron, then some old clips of Doc and Wilkins, you'll see what I mean. The chips were down last night, and we were watching the Cavs of the crap part of the season. Even Lebron started off slow. In the second half, Lebron was a machine. His defensive rebounding was top notch. You all know he ended with 24 points, 17 boards and 9 assists. Talk about filling up a statline, and leading by example.
The Cavs have won 8 games in a row, and have changed their season with the streak. I just hope the season continues to be this fun. Their next four games should be interesting to say the least. On Tuesday, we head to Charlotte. Then comes three home games in a row, Dallas on Wednesday, New York on Friday and Denver next Sunday. Dallas and Denver stand out. Denver ran Phoenix out of the building last night, and Iverson had a game for the ages with 44 and 15 assists. That should be a fun game.
Here's to you Boozer, and your team's four game losing streak. Super road trip.
On to Charlotte.