Merry Christmas Mamba

Hello again Cavs fans. What a game.  A game that had all the intensity of summer hoops and all the physicality of a Sunday in the NFL.  Our Cavs rose to the occasion and catapulted themselves right back into “the discussion.”  Although in my eyes they’ve been there all along considering we’re now 8-3 vs winning squads and have wins in Orlando and in LA with a day one loss against Boston as our only blemish.  A few takes from the game: 

Toughness in mind….

We were by far the tougher team mentally.  The refs let these two teams go at it and while our Cavs rolled with it, the Lakers looked like a little league pitcher crying and kicking dirt on the mound.  We saw both Kobe and Derek Fisher take unnecessary cheap shots at Mo in frustration.  We saw Phil Jackson fold his arms in protest instead of subbing in for Lamar Odom who had just gotten the heave.  The Lakerswere shook.  They were being dominated on their home floor on the biggest regular season stage and apparently weren’t sure how to act.  One things certain, it wasn’t the refs fault.  We were called for 3 more fouls than they were and only shot 3 more FT’s, and they can thank all their T’s for that.

 
Toughness on the court…

We got to hear numerous times from Kobe’s fan club in the booth how there’s ‘no retreat in Kobe.’  Well there was no retreat in these road weary Cavs either.  As the game got more and more physical the Cavs embraced it.  There is no question Shaq is a true enforcer in the paint even in these elder years.  We saw him deliver a hard foul to Pau Gasol early and I can’t recall any strong moves to the hoop from him thereafter.  And he definitely got into Kobe’s head as he bodied him up when Kobe attacked the hoop.  And the next time Kobedrives into that brick wall, he should berate himself for forcing the big man out of LA. 
 
On Mo….

You know your team has shifted to a tough mans game when we start seeing Mo posting up Derek Fisher.  On paper there is no way that should happen.  Another big game on a big stage and Mo delivers.  With Mo on the court without Lebron and with Kobe still on the court we took control of this game.  Mo is even better this year.

 
Versatility….

Some coaches would say they don’t change what they do for anyone.  Mike Brown is not one of those coaches.  If you play small like Dallas, Z will ride the bench and Boobie will play some big minutes.  If you play big like LA than Boobie will earn a virtual DNP and big Z will start the 3rd quarter.  Well played coach.  It goes to show how much deeper we are than the Lakers.  One of the best 3 pt shooters in the NBAplayed just 7 seconds due to match-up issues and we didn’t miss a beat.

Lebron vs Kobe…

Never materialized as the country had hoped but Lebron showed his maturity once again.  It was very clear he didn’t press a thing and did as his team needed.  A very pedestrian 26 pts and 9 boards.  A career game for half the league. Although he did have a season high 7 turnovers.

 
We learned a ton about our team yesterday but more importantly you get the feeling they learned a ton about themselves.  We have a tough slate in front of us with Houston then a home and home with the Hawks.  Let’s see if the good guys can keep this thing rolling.

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Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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