Feliz Navidad my fellow Gospel elves.
On Wednesday evening ol’ Saint Nicholas paid us Cavaliers fans an early visit and left a thirteen point overtime victory over the Sacramento Kings under our trees. For some of us, Santa Clause returned to spread his Christmas cheer on Thursday night. And, by some of us, I mean everyone except those who choose to support the second best player in the NBA (who shall remain nameless) and his crew from LA.
One of the best Christmas gifts you shall receive this holiday season is not topped with a pretty bow under your Christmas tree. Our beloved Wine and Gold ballers will head off to the dark land to take on the LA Lakers in one of the most anticipated match ups of this young season.
And here’s how it breaks down:
The Lakers come into this Christmas Day matchup sporting the league’s best record at 23-4. They are led by number 24 (again, nameless) who accounts for 29.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per contest. Pau Gasol, who recently signed a three-year extension with LA, averages 17 points and better than 12 boards a game while Ron Artest adds 12.3 points per game. Andrew Bynum continues to improve with each and every game and has poured in an average of 15.9 points a night while snagging more than 8 boards.
In two games last season, Las Angeles topped the Cavs by an average of 13.5 points. LeBron James failed to tally 25 in either of those matchups.
What to Look For:
The Cavaliers were 26-5 when Mo Williams topped the 20 point plateau and have yet to lose such a game this season. If Mo can give Bron a little help on the offensive end, look for Cleveland to end their western road trip with a win against the defending champs.
Ever since Shaquille O’Neal left the Lakers after the 2003-04 season, the Shaq v. LA matchup has been one of great interest to fans across the world. Shaquille O’Neal always comes out to play against his former team so look for Andrew Bynum to be fed a heavy dose of Shaq throughout the game.
Cleveland Cavaliers fans will be spoiled this Christmas. After we finish opening all the presents Santa Clause left for us, we’ll have a chance to sit down to watch our Cavs deliver us a gift of their own. All the while, Lakers fans will get nothing but coal in their stocking and a big, fat L this Christmas season.
The Big Fella has been what I like to call a “NF”, or a nonfactor, these past few games. But sparked by the boo birds at the Staples Center on Friday evening, the Shaqalier is reborn. O’Neal goes for 8 points in the opening quarter and has Andrew Bynum’s big behind planted next to his Hall of Fame coach after picking up two fouls in the first five minutes of play. Pau Gasol and his fat new contract can’t handle the muscle of the Big Witness Protection and the big man leads all scorers with 17 heading into the break.
Derek Fisher knocks down a long jumper as the shot clock runs down to start the second half but Bron gets the deuce and the damage at the other end to give his Cavaliers an eight point advantage. Bron and the second best player in the NBA go back-and-forth for much of the third period and Cleveland takes a nine point lead into the final twelve minutes.
The Mo-led fourth quarter unit can’t sustain an early push by the defending champs and Bron finds his team down a pair with seven minutes to go.
On the ensuing possession, Ron Artest is flattened by an O’Neal screen. LeBron dribbles left and finds a flying Jamario Moon for the alley-oop two-handed smash to knot the game. It is all Cavaliers from there. Cleveland goes on a 9-2 run over the next 4:30 and lead by seven with just over a minute to play. Number 24 drills a contested three to cut the lead to four but Shaq-Fu’s powerhouse jam with 25 seconds left puts the game out of reach. Cleveland exits their four game western road trip with a 97-92 victory over LA.
Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!