Cleveland 105 (57-15) | New Orleans 92 (34-39)
Well, I guess that's about right. That score makes it look like we almost won, but the reality is that LeBron and Co. had the game in hand for almost all of the second half.
Not that we had a bad showing or anything. We just collapsed on defense a little too often, got beaten into the floor on points in the paint, and generally missed a whole lot of jump shots. Ok, so some people would qualify that as a "poor showing." I'm not saying what the Hornets did should be considered a great effort, I just mean that we shouldn't be too surprised when the defense breaks down (we can hardly rotate to cover most teams without LeBron) and, well, sometimes your shots just don't fall. The whole getting our faces pounded in the paint was a bit of surprise, but we'll get to that later.
To be fair to our guys, the Hornets were actually holding their own through halftime. Though they never led, the Bees brought the score to within four and looked poised continue keeping pace for the rest of the contest. Unfortunately, that would not come to pass.
Some of it was poor decisions, some of it was dumb mistakes, some of it was rough officiating, and some of it... well, it's LeBron. Actually, most of the team stats were pretty close, except that the Hornets managed to shoot 44%, but the Cavs finished the night at 57%. That's the contest right there.
Valiant effort; just came up a bit short. Bullets after the jump.
- LeBron (38), J.J. Hicks (20), and Delonte West (15) combined for 70% of Cleveland's points. All three shot great percentages (31 for 44 combined) and baffled our D all night long. LeBron needs little explanation, but big props to Hickson for owning our big men in the paint and to Delonte for making just about every lazy floater he tossed up there.
- Remember the whole "not doing well in the paint" aka "the monster formerly known as J.J. Hickson?" The Hornets were outscored in the paint 58 to 36. Can't win with a margin that big.
- Chris Paul has not yet transformed back into CP3. He had 7 dimes, but he also had 3 turnovers and a lousy (like almost Jason Kidd "I can't hit the rim") 2 for 8 from the floor. Seriously, it looked bad. Bower also tried using Chris to cover LeBron which, admittedly was better than Songalia but ultimately yielded similar results given the fact that CP is about 6' on a good day. Can't wait until he gets back to 100%.
- Every single Hornet starter was in the negatives in +/-. Only Collison and Posey were in the positive (and JuJu, but he played all of 2 minutes). The worrisome part is that Morris and DX were both -20 or lower. I know these numbers don't mean a ton with a sample size of 1, but that's pretty damning evidence.
- Poor Marcus. He got abused all night. Despite playing tight on Delonte, several calls went against him. To make matters worse, he could scarcely get a call himself down low and his jump shot was MIA. "But Lee," you say. "He still shot over 50%, put up 20 points, 4 boards, 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 turnover in 43 minutes." And to that, I'd say, "Yes. He was fantastic. It was nice to see him adjust and find other ways to score. The kid is fantastic and I could never complain about his on-court efforts. Hell, he's got some of the best driving/layup skills in the biz for someone so young. But still," I'd say. "I wish a few of those open looks would have dropped. They could have been the difference."
- Collison also had a nice night, coming off the bench to add 17 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds in 31 minutes.
- Bad night for DX. He handed out 6 assists and pulled down 7 boards, but he also went a paltry 5 of 16 from the floor. He had the same rimming out disease everyone else had tonight (except for Posey... who can't even manage to be in sync with the team when it comes to something like sucking). Again, credit the interior presence of Hickson and (sometimes) Sideshow Bob.
- Before I leave you tonight, I'd just like to add it appeared to me that LeBron was hardly in 4th or 5th gear. He seemed to coast through the game around 3rd. Oh, and 3rd gear is apparently 38 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists. Sure it was against a less-than-stellar D, but still... what the heck is 5th gear?
Opponent's Take: Fear The Sword