By Ryan Jones
The Cavs would like to win this game. The Wizards HAVE to win this game.
That’s called “setting the stage.”
Def Leppard is/are still alive. And they’re collaborating with Tim McGraw. That’s terrific. I was a senior in high school when Hysteria took over white suburbia. This seems like a long time ago. I remember how puzzled I was to learn that, despite them having like eight guitar players, about 90 percent of the sounds on this record were made by a synthesizer. When I later learned that their producer was the guy who went on to make all of Shania Twain’s records — most of which sound like a lot of Def Leppard’s songs, when you think about it — I was puzzled no more.
That’s called a “segue.”
Anyway, I’m happy to say I never liked Def Leppard enough for this new collabo to bother me.
CLE: LeBron, Delonte, Wally, Z, Ben
WAS: DeShawn, Gil, Antawn, Brendan, Caron
Lisa Salters tells us that Gil explained how his injury essentially amounts to what it’s like when you hit your funny bone. Yikes. I’d be out 8-10 weeks with that.
More from Lisa: “We’re also going to be keeping an eye on LeBron James.”
Note to self: Keep an eye on LeBron James.
CLEVELAND WINS THE TIP.
That’s called “play by play.”
Delonte West opens the game by shooting, and badly missing, a contested 3-pointer. Heat check? Apparently not, as Mike Tirico tells us that Delonte is 5 of 19 from the field this series. Probably not what Mike Brown drew up.
Before we get too far into things: I watched about five straight hours of TV on Sunday, which is something I almost never do anymore. But Everton were playing Aston Villa in a late-season match with massive implications for a UEFA Cup place next season, and it was live on FSC, so I couldn’t not watch. A mostly sleepy first half made way for an amazing second half, ending in a 2-2 draw with three of the four goals coming in the final 10 minutes. I was bummed not to get a win, but buzzing off the way it finished.
Cavs-Wizards started about 10 minutes after this one ended. It would have a hard time keeping up.
Anyway. Antawn with a floater. 2-0 Wiz.
Gil is active in the early going. He’s got like nine deflections in the first 38 seconds. Or something.
LeBron putback. 2-2.
DeShawn drives and is fouled. LeBron is called for a goaltend. DeShawn can’t feel his face. DeShawn shows sarcastic allegiance to The Roc. DeShawn does a throat slash.
We’ve played 107 seconds of basketball. It’s 5-2.
(I won’t get into the latest on this silliness, both because Lang and Mutoni already linked to the latest, and because when Mike Tirico can’t stop making fun of you, you should know you’ve really lost the plot. I’ll try not to say anything bad about him the rest of the way.)
(P.S. Mutoni, I totally played that sh*t at work. I ain’t scared!)
Anyway. Caron hits from 17 feet. 7-2 in favor of the Magicians from our Nation’s Capital.
LeBron, an 18-footer over two defenders. 7-4.
Brenda Haywood dunks the basketball. 9-4.
Delonte hits from 18. That’s better. 9-6 Wizards.
Haywood looks like a basketball player. His little jump hook makes it 11-6.
LeBron, from 20, and it’s 11-8 Wiz. He’s 3 for 3.
Antawn in close, 13-8.
Wally with an 18 footer, 13-10.
“Awful pass by Stevenson.” —Mike Tirico
“Foul by Stevenson.” — Mike Tirico
Wally hits two from the line, cutting it to 13-12.
DeShawn, wet from 18, and it’s 15-12.
Z with a patented non-jumping rebound and tip-in. 15-14.
“Stevenson off the mark.” —Mike Tirico
Z from the elbow, and the Cavs take their first lead.
LeBron with a steal, break and moderately entertaining jam. Eight for him, and it’s 18-15 Cavs. Keep booing, Wizards fans.
Mike Tirico explains the latest on James v. Stevenson. Hubie Brown says, “I’m into smooth jazz. I missed Soulja Boy.” THAT, friends, is why the man’s a Hall of Famer.
Some other stuff happens, and then they go to a timeout… and Crank Dat plays on the outro.
Anyone seen Mike Jones lately?
Some other stuff happens, and then Antonio Daniels hits a three to put the Wizards back on top, 23-22.
The Cavs miss 1-footers on back-to-back possessions.
Some other stuff happens, and Jamison hits a 3. It’s 28-24 Wizards. And the first quarter ends.
If you need to pee, this would be a good time. I’ll wait.
LeBron James is called for an offensive foul after driving through the entire Washington roster, bench players included. I love this game.
Wha–WHAT? The latest incarnation of the “There Can Be Only One” campaign features Steve Nash and Manu Ginobili, with backing music from… Radiohead? I’m not mad. Confused, but not mad. There is some relevance here — Steve Nash is a big Radiohead fan, which I know because I once had a brief, drunken conversation with him on this subject outside a Philadelphia nightclub. But why would Radiohead, not really a sportsy kinda band, license their music to the NBA? And why would the NBA choose a song that’s at least partially about key parties? I have no idea, but still, it’s Radiohead, and it gave me something unexpected to think about, so I like it.
Seemingly on purpose, Devin Brown scores five straight points. 29-28 Cavs.
Antawn Jamison’s degree of difficulty is increasingly off the charts. Jamaal Wilkes had more conventional form.
Mike Brown is Wired! And like every other coach whose huddles we hear from, he says absolutely nothing of interest.
The Cavs offense when LeBron’s on the bench is a thing of booty.
We got ourselves a run: Songaila hits two free throws, Roger Mason VIII hits a three, Caron and Mason hit back to back jumpers, and it’s 37-29.
LeBron stems it with a layup. 37-31.
See, now this is uncool. Songaila’s at the line, and the crowd — his home crowd — is chanting “OVER-RATED!” That’s harsh. Is he the most talented player in the world? No. But he does the best he can.
He makes both free throws. Way to show ’em, kid.
LeBron…! Hop-step drive and one-handed dunk. High-percentage. It’s 39-33. He’s got 12.
Wally hits a jumper, and Delonte follows with a 3… and it’s back to a one-point game.
Turnover. DeShawn can’t feel the shot clock.
Ah. Well. LeBron drives, and DeShawn greets him with a right hook to the head. Still it was a right hook thrown in the general direction of the ball, so it’s only a Flagrant-1. This seems fair.
LeBron hits 1 of 2 free throws. We’re tied at 39-39.
LeBron from 27 feet… sure. 42-39. Just to recap: LeBron is punched in the head; LeBron responds by making a 27-footer. Yay, intimidation!
LeBron makes 2 of 2 from the line, 44-39.
Jamison dittos, 44-41.
Delonte actually does need a heat check. Another 3, and it’s 47-41 Cavs.
LeBron 2/2 FT, 49-41. It’s a 20-4 Cavs run.
Ooop. Ooops! LeBron, from Boobie. 51-41.
Final minute, Jamison with a putback and a free throw bookending a 3 from Boobie, and it’s 54-44 at the half. Since DeShawn’s flagrant, the Wizards have been outscored 16-5. Is it working yet, fellas?
Oh, and LeBron’s got 22, 4 & 3 at the half.
Some stuff happens, and it’s 58-46 Cavs a couple minutes into the second half. Then:
DESHAWN! ACTING! THANK YOU! (I couldn’t find a clip of Jon Lovitz doing the acting thing, so I’ll give you this one instead.)
It worked, though, so well done.
Then there’s some back-and-forth for a while, including back-to-back threes from LeBron, who’s got 28 early in third, and the Cavs’ lead bloats to 67-52. But then Cleveland starts playing Hack-a-Haywood, and DeShawn hits a three and fakes more contact (but it works, again, so well-played to you DeShawn!) and Caron hits a three and the Wizards get it down to 72-70 with a couple of minutes left in the third.
That’s called “summarizing.”
LeBron and Antawn trade and-ones. Still a two-point game.
The Cavs get 19 offensive rebounds on one possession. Devin Brown gets the last of them, is fouled, and makes a pair.
Joe Smith boards a LeBron miss, puts it back and is fouled at the buzzer. And one. It’s 80-73, end of three.
Caron hits a pair. 80-75.
LeBron misses a pair.
LeBron misses a three.
Ben Wallace fouls Caron Butler. Until just now, I had literally forgotten Ben Wallace was on the roster.
Caron makes 1 of 2, then Jamison hits a J. The lead is back down to two.
Delonte with a three. 83-78.
Caron, Z, and Haywood trade baskets, and then Delonte hits another three. What the hell’s gotten into this kid? It’s 88-82 Cavs.
DeShawn counters with a triple of his own. LeBron makes a free throw. Caron hits a runner. Ben Wallace bricks two from the line. Gil takes a three to tie… no. Nearly an airball. Poor Gil.
BOOBIE. A three to beat the shot clock, and it’s 93-87 Cavs with five minutes left. Cleveland’s acting like it wants to win this game. Perhaps they forgot they’re on the road?
LeBron 1/2 FT. Haywood with a dunk. LeBron with a pass to where Delonte was standing a minute ago. Caron with a runner, and it’s back down to three.
BOOBIE! Seriously? They’re making every shot they need to make right now. LeBron’s not doing much in the fourth, but they’re holding this lead, and it’s his fourth or fifth hockey assist of the game.
And then there’s LeBron’s fifth foul of the game. Caron… really? Eddie Jordan clearly has these guys drilling fake LeBron contact in practice. But damned if it’s not working.
Caron hits from 15 feet. 97-93 Cavs, two minutes left.
Gil hits a pair, and it’s 97-95. Just under a minute.
LeBron rims out from 16 feet. Wizards ball, :45 left…
Gil with the nasty drive, shoot and bank, tie game, 27 seconds left. This is almost as good as the soccer game. Almost.
Reset: Cavs ball, with a couple seconds to spare between shot and game clock. LeBron has the ball. DeShawn is, um, defending.
LeBron drives left.
DeShawn tries to keep up.
Gil slides over to help.
LeBron shows a Kobe-esque faith in his teammate.
Delonte, who missed badly on the first shot of the game but seemingly hasn’t missed since, wets a corner three. It’s 100-97 Cavs, :05.4 showing.
Gil for three. No.
Bad news, Wizards fans: Your team played pretty well, at home, and lost. Jamison was great, Butler, Haywood, and yes, even DeShawn were all very good. But Gil was mostly ineffective, and you got next to nothing off your bench.
Good news, Cavs fans: Your team won a road game. Those little guards of yours showed up and made shots, making up for very quiet nights from Wally, Z and Ben (minus those 12 boards, of course). And LeBron? Well, he missed too many free throws, had too many turnovers, and didn’t score enough in the fourth.
But he did finish with 34, 12 and 7. Which isn’t bad.
This series? It’s about over. Blow the whistle.