If the blame for the loss against an injury riddled Nuggets squad on Friday night belongs to LeBron for his 8 turnovers and 16 of 28 missed shots - despite a line that still read 35-6-7 – then all credit for righting the ship out west should be left at the foot of King James’ throne tonight. He didn’t look too happy about having to come into the Rose Garden off a loss, and he voiced his displeasure right from the jump by way of 8 of 8 shooting in the first quarter, and 31 points by halftime. Great half. And don’t blame LeBron for allowing the Blazers to come all the way back in the 3rd quarter either, and eventually tying it up in the 4th, from a ‘diff’ that flirted with 20 early on in the second half. Blame his teammates for that.
James came out in the second half with the mind-set of getting others involved. He didn’t look a the stat sheet and say I want to get 60 tonight; he thought – and rightfully so – that he needed everyone else involved if the Cavs were going to get a win over a tough Portland squad on the road. Only problem was no other Cav could throw it in the Pacific Ocean during the 3rd quarter. And I have to stop right there. It would be one thing if LeBron did come out of the locker room eyeing Kobe’s 81 mark and allowed Portland back in by launching bricks all over the arena, but he didn’t. He pushed his team out to a nice lead, and tried to get everybody involved in the 3rd quarter, but everybody else just looked like they came out of the locker room hoping to take the rest of the night off and have a front row seat for the LeBron James show. To me, that was more frustrating than the defensive effort that was non-existent for most of the period.
To be fair though, the Cavs dug in for the most part in the 4th quarter, and did enough to get a 12-point win on the road. Credit Varejao for hustling all over the place, and also feel free to throw some more minutes Jawad Williams’ way in the next one as reward for the monster shots he hit tonight. LeBron finished with 40 – for the 46th time in his career – and the Cavaliers got a much needed win despite the effort from the most under-rated player in the NBA, Brandon Roy. I’d argue that if Roy played for a team on the east coast he’d get hype bordering on that of Dwayne Wade. But he doesn’t, and what do I really care about that anyway.
Up next the Cavaliers (29-10) go to Golden State tomorrow…check in with Glenn and I one hour prior to tip-off for the Wine and Gold Pregame Podcast and we’ll talk more about it then.