Well, for one night at least we didn't need no LeBron, because the Blazers LeBrought It.
Cavaliers 76, Blazers 94
--Astute observers may notice that we actually only scored one more point in this game blowing out the Cavaliers than we did the other night when we were blown out by the Nuggets. The difference, of course, was defense. We were up for it from the get-go. We allowed only 9 points in the first quarter, only 14 in the 3rd. You're going to take charge of a lot of games that way. Going into garbage time the Cavaliers had only four assists and three fast-break points. They shot 35% for the game, 17% from the foul line. Plus we had 11 steals, which for us is a phenomenal number. If you missed this game you missed the best defensive/energy effort of the year.
--Particularly impressive was the defense on King James, especially in the first half. Part way into the third quarter he was still only shooting 33%. A lot of that was Ime but a huge amount of credit has to go to our big men too. How many times this year have you seen Zach, Joel, or Jamaal rotate late on the help or Aldridge not rotate at all because he wasn't aware of what was going on? There was none of that tonight. The help came early and it came often. LeBron ended up with 23 but they were basically disjointed, contested, and ultimately fruitless points. He got nothing open unless it was deep and I don't think he touched the rim on offense all night. This was a clinic on how to handle a superstar.
--Equally impressive, and what really gave us the boost out of the gate, was that we controlled the boards tonight. There were 3-4 Blazers hounding every Cleveland miss. We ended up +6 for the evening. And this was against one of the best rebounding teams around.
--Our offense was unselfish and...adequate. It would be a mistake to say this was a brilliant offensive outing, if nothing else because that would take attention from what really got us the win. But you know what? The vast majority of shots we took were smart ones. We were consistently aggressive going to the hoop. We got the ball to people in places they could score. When we took deep shots they were wide open, off the pass, and within the flow of the offense. We ended up shooting the same percentage from the arc (46%) that we did overall. It wasn't a fancy game...it was almost methodical. But good teams don't win by being fancy, they win by being smart and consistent. (Not that this will carry over, but tonight it was nice.)
--As I said in the comment section of the Gameday Thread, this was one of those games that absolutely disproved the old adage that the more aggressive team gets the calls. The Blazers shot 21 free throws tonight. The Cavaliers shot 45. On a night when we were clearly the aggressors in every aspect of the game (look at the boxscore and the final results) we got whistled for twice as many fouls. And this was on our home court to boot. They say they're trying to even out the league some but it still pays way more to be famous than aggressive.
--If you read the pre-game report you knew that the Cavs are the worst free throw shooting team in the league so it didn't end up mattering.
--Some will say the Cavs were tired tonight, and it's true...they looked it. But we've played tired teams before and come out on the losing end. This game was ours because we took it, plain and simple. Nicely done.
--So many guys gave good efforts tonight that it's hard to know where to start, but I think we need to acknowledge Zach. This was actually one of his more labored offensive games, but it did not matter one bit. It didn't matter because this was far and away the most active, aggressive, team-winning game I've seen him play...maybe EVER. He was alert shutting off the drive. He fought for rebounds. He ran back in transition. It was an amazing effort. He got a standing ovation and he deserved it big-time. BIG TIME! Oh, and by the way he also ended up with 26 and 12, 10 free throw attempts, 4 assists, and 2 steals. The boxscore says 6 turnovers but I didn't even notice them because they didn't matter. He did so much good in the game he could have tallied a triple-double with turnovers as the last stat and he still would have come out to the good.
--Joel is another guy I noticed immediately. This was his night. He only played 16 minutes again but he led the charge being active, quick on his feet, and tough defending the interior. He got 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in his limited time but that doesn't tell the story.
--Check out this Brandon Roy stat line: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 assists, 50% shooting, 66% from three, only 2 turnovers. And you know the best part? He didn't stand out doing it. This wasn't like a "Brandon's taking over this game" type of deal. He just did his thing and that's what happened. That ain't bad, folks.
--Lamarcus shot 6-9 and scored 14 points. Even better he continued the starters' great defense, even drawing LeBron himself a time or two. (Got burned once, blocked him once.) Add in 3 blocks. He only had 4 rebounds though and he really does need to be a little more active in that vein.
--Besides playing great defense, Ime shot 5-8 and scored 12. Whenever he adds those extra few points it gives us a chance. Like Brandon he didn't do much that he doesn't always do...it's just that the shots were timely, open, and falling.
--Dickau started again at the point. He had a poor first half but redeemed himself by hitting a couple shots and making a nice pass or two in the second half. He only played 16 minutes but in that time he got 3 assists, 2 steals, and 9 points,
--Sergio was an energizer again tonight. Because of him the bench stretched the starters' momentum throughout the first half. 23 minutes, 9 assists, no turnovers. One thing I noticed which I also commented on in the Gameday Thread: Sergio is so unpredictable with the ball that he's having the unintended effect of stopping everyone else on the team in their tracks, as I don't think they know what he's going to do any more than the opposition. This was better in the second half when Lamarcus started figuring out that if you dive to the basket when Sergio is dribbling you're going to get a pass and a dunk attempt. Everybody else needs to follow his lead because he's wasted when other people stand.
--Don't forget Juan Dixon. It wasn't his most productive outing but he did hit 4-5 for 9 points. A couple of those were his patented against-the-clock shots too. He's money with that jumper from the right baseline no matter who's on him.
--The Cavs feed showed tons of people in the crowd with LeBron jerseys. A. I hope there weren't really that many. And... B. I hope that they all feel like they got their money's worth.