The Cavaliers made their usual surge during the fourth quarter last night, which is probably more encouraging than it is frustrating, and can’t be completely dismissed even in an eight point loss (102-94). Last year they used fourth quarters following a 29% shooting from the field for three periods performance, like Friday in Orlando, to really get blown out by a team like the Magic. Last night, despite their struggles offensively highlighted by both those shooting woes and eight Dwight Howard blocked shots, they didn’t quit and put a little run together late. It was actually too late though, unfortunately.
Ramon Sessions rallied the troops some, finished with a team-high plus / minus of +16 in about 27 minutes, and Alonzo Gee finished up a 20-point, 5-rebound for the game performance with some emphasis down the stretch as well. After digging too much of a hole though, and not playing the way they did or do in the fourth for the three quarters preceding, the Cavaliers ended up losing by eight even though they improved that field goal percentage as a team by 8 for the game overall (37%) in that final period.
Only Jason Richardson (+19) finished with a plus / minus as good or better than Ramon Sessions last night, which is kinda crazy if you think about how much the Cavs were losing by and eventually lost by. His 19 points in 28 minutes were as many as his teammate Howard ended up scoring, to go with those 8 blocks and 16 rebounds hauled in by the big man who wants to be traded. The Cavs went to the Hack-a-Howard late, and I really don’t like the Hack-a-Howard at all – especially when Mark Jackson spent Golden State’s fourth or fifth game of the season doing it all night – but it was relatively effective in just that last quarter for the Cavs kinda. They had no other option really, but Howard did split those last 14 FT’s and that would be more than enough for the win.
Anderson Varejao finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds, and that’s good because it helps him improve his season numbers in both categories critical to All Star consideration. Kyrie Irving got blocked by Dwight a couple times, didn’t shoot a particularly high percentage (Hubie Brown voice), but he did finish with 18 and 6 which also keeps pace with his overall stat line for the season too. These are things I look for in losses like last night. A loss that Skyenga didn’t get into on Friday, but here’s hoping that means Byron considers him to have fresh legs tonight and gives Christian a chance against the defending NBA Champions here later on today.
Moving On To Dallas:
Tip-off tonight is at 7:30, and the Mavericks come in on a week where their coach Rick Carlisle kicked a basketball off a fan’s head in the third row during a loss against Oklahoma City Thunder. Mark Cuban got off on the officials post game following that one, in support of his coach of course, so that’s all kind of funny too. It’ll be cool to see Delonte West tonight also, who’s playing pretty well off the bench in 25 minutes per night averaging 8 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Dallas’ last win was on January 30th against Phoenix, and in that game against the Suns Delonte went off for 25 points.
Since then the Mavs have lost their last two, including Wednesday against the Thunder and last night at home against the Pacers, and come in with an overall record of 14-10. Dirk’s been a little banged up, there’s chatter that he might not end up on the Western Conference All Star team for the first time in the history of German basketball, so I guess that kinda goes in the Cavaliers favor. Even though Dirk still did score 30 last night, and his team still employs guys like Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, and will ultimately be a pretty tough test for the 8-13 Cavs tonight.
In short, it’d be this Cavs team’s best win of the season by far if they managed to somehow beat the defending champs, who really don’t deserve a standing ovation or anything cheesy like that from Cleveland fans tonight #IMO.
Dan Fan Day:
My buddies at Fresh Brewed Tees along with my guy Verizon Al are spearheading a campaign today to thank Dan Gilbert for his stewardship of this Cleveland Cavaliers Organization, and everything else associated with his work here in Cleveland.
Dan Gilbert Appreciation Day was announced this morning on Twitter, and the goal is to have #DanFan trending by tip-off tonight against the Mavs. So show the guy some love people!
More later after the game.