Wow! That’s the kind of game that makes you want to watch standing up on the only chair in your dorm room and take a victory lap around the building when the horn sounds.
Cleveland got word earlier in the day that Mo Williams’s shoulder strain was going to keep him on the sidelines for at least a month. That’s over 16 points of offense and the team’s starting point guard that was MIA in Thursday night’s match up with the defending champs.
But no Mo, no problem for LeBron James and Co. LeBron canned 37 points in all and took over the game late in the fourth quarter to give our Cavaliers the 93-87 victory. The young King stepped up and calmly splashed home seemingly every shot he attempted in the final minutes and connected on a couple big free throws (where was that in Utah?!). His 37 points were a game-high. His 9 assists were a game-high. And his 13 of 25 shooting performance was incredible in comparison to Kobe Bryant’s 12 of 31 night.
Cleveland utilized Shaquille O’Neal in spurts throughout the game and the big man muscled his way to a 13 point-6 rebound 0uting. The Big Fella was a force in the lane on the defensive end and had his way with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the post on offense. On one possession in particular, Shaq took an entry pass from Delonte West and backed Pau Gasol under the basket before flushing home an easy basket. Anthony Parker connected on a pair of big three bombs, one of which gave Cleveland their first lead of the game midway through the third quarter and Delonte West, who started for the injured Williams, attempted only 4 shots for three points in almost 43 minutes of work (more minutes than LeBron). West snagged 4 boards and handed off 3 assists on the night but teamed up with AP to play incredible defense on Kobe Bryant.Anderson Varejao calmly stepped to the line in the closing minutes and drilled 3 of 4 free throws to put the game out of reach. The Wild Thing added five rebounds to an eleven point effort while frustrating Pau Gasol into a 5 of 14 shooting performance.
JJ Hickson (yes, the same Hickson that I gave a C- on the midseason interim report) pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds while adding 11 points to the stat line. The NC State alumni scored a few of his buckets on a pair of high-flying two-handed slams that rocked the 20,000+ in the Quicken Loans Arena.
On a side note, LeBron topped all players in All-Star balloting with over 2.5 million votes. The Cavaliers are now 33-11 and will host the OKC Thunder on Saturday night.
Let us bask in the glory of victory tonight and sing our song!