mo and delonte

Big win, and big loss

Remember when Gloria was telling Billy Hoyle in White Men Can’t Jump that sometimes when you win you actually lose.  That played itself out last night at the Q.  While theCavs notched yet another big victory on the big stage against the defending champs they paid a big price as its being reported that Delonte West has broken a finger on his shooting hand.  It will be interesting to see how the Cavs move forward down option 1 and 2 at the pivotal PG position.  Maybe Damon Jones can dust off his Italian for Dummies handbook? But today’s not a day to diminish what transpired last night on the court.  Again the Cavs proved that they are a much tougher team than Kobe’s Lakers.  So much so that it seems from Kobe’s comments that the Cavs have triggered somewhat of a 7 game pilgrimmage for the Lakers to find their inner strength. 

 
The Hometown Wine and Gold started out sluggish and Kobe gave off signs that we might be in for another one of his 50-point materpieces but Coach Brown and his defense made their adjustments and forced Kobe into taking contested jumper after contested jumper and converged on him anytime he thought about going to the basket.  Showing again what I’ve thought for quite some time as it pertains to the endless Kobe vs Lebron debate, Lebron can take over a game without being “on” from the perimeter.  When Lebron gets doubled he welcomes it and finds his men cutting from all angles.  JJ..dunk..Andy layup…Z in the corner for three!  We saw Kobe continue to hoist without a thought of getting his teammates off – Odom, 5 shots really? Bynum 5 shots?(more on that later).  Kobe, as amazing as he is, still at times lacks that trust in his team and as banged up as he is he simply doesn’t have the burst to create that the King has. 

As predicted LBJ was in attack mode for most of the night except for times he was searching for dagger three’s that never fell until late in the 4th.  He shot the midrange J very well especially when he emerged from his rest in the 4th q when he scored 9 straight for the Cavs resulting in a 87-80 lead late in the game that LA couldn’t come all the way back from.  Then he made the play of the night when he came over on help D and rejected Pau and came away with the ball and a coast-to-coast layup to put C-Town ahead for good. 

 
Another note from the game, and a trend we should be very fond of, is the play of Shaq Daddy in big games against the league’s elite.  Gotta give it again to Coach B.  With LB on the bench in the 2nd quarter and in the 4th he ran the offense through Shaq.  Even if Shaq wasn’t producing on the block at the very least he’s slowing the tempo of the game way down to limit the amount of actual possessions that LB’s missing out on.  Making it hard for opponents to go on runs with the MVP getting a breather as we’ve seen in the past.  But Shaq is producing.  He’s been a presence on defense. (I haven’t screamed “Damn Pick n Roll!” in weeks.)  He’s getting opposing big men in foul trouble constantly.  This was the main reason Bynum only got 5 shots and was very insignificant in this ballgame.  My best example of Shaq’s effectiveness goes back to 5:30 remaining in the 2nd quarter.  Down 37-28, crowd very anxious and sitting on their hands, and the Chosen One on the pine. Shaq made his mark.  He backs down and finds a cutting Jawad Williams for an easy layup. 37-30.  He D’s up Bynum and Bynum settles for a J that he bricks.  Next time down he draws Bynum’s 3rd foul. Bynum out.  He then backs down Gasol and hits a runner. 37-32.  Crowd back in it.  A few possessions later still 37-32 he steals a dump off pass from Fisher, makes a great outlet pass to LBJ..ahead to JJ for a two handed slam.  37-34.  Crowd Roaring.  Cavs back in the game.  This run was a huge reason the Cavs were still in striking distance come halftime and a huge reason the home court advantage was still on as nothing fuels a road team quite like silence.  This is what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Shaq.  Short bursts of great production. Obviously he doesn’t play the minutes to put up big numbers but he plays at a high enough level to make big impacts in the game. 
 
Over the next few weeks we’ll truly see what the depth on this roster can provide.  Going into Saturday’s game vs a young and hungry OKC Thunder we’ll be down 3 rotation players with out a legitimate NBA PG on the roster.  Jawad has stepped up in Moon’s absence and will need to continue to do so and Boobie will have to follow suit.  But in the end we have the best player in the world on our side and we will be playing a steady diet of home games.  No matter what happens in the coming month as this battered and bruised team moves forward, wins like this one will make an off night against a lesser team a lot easier to stomach.
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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