Game Notes: Nets at Cavaliers
Two young teams building toward an uncertain future. The NBA in early November. Alright.
by Farmer Jones / @thefarmerjones
It’s not the same in Cleveland. Not now, not with the big guy gone. To Miami, of all places. Miami? This was a local dude made good. A fixture at the Q. Now? Disappeared, just like that. Where’s the loyalty? It’s crazy.
I guess I should just learn to accept it. Move on. But I can’t. I just can’t.
I can’t believe Brian Windhorst is gone.
Otherwise, not much seems to have changed in Cleveland. The team is decent, even if the ceiling isn’t cathedral-high like it was the past few years. What the ’10-11 Cavs have going for them is a roster full of guys with something to prove, and a town full of proud fans who, so far, at least, aren’t about to shirk their duties in supporting their squad.
On Wednesday, they welcomed the Nets, whom they beat in Jersey 24 hours earlier. Most impressive stats from the night before? Twenty-seven points from Travis Outlaw, and a –18 from Kris Humphries in just eight minutes of playing time. That’s just impressive.
The gym is about 80 percent full just before tip off, and the crowd is up for it. That’s good to see. No LeBron in the starting lineup, though. Figured I’d have heard if he was hurt. Strange.
It’s back and forth early, the Cavs mixing it up well, lots of passes and spreading the wealth. So that’s different. It’s undeniably striking, after watching Bron and Co. the past seven years, to see so much balance. Striking in a good way, at least until you look at the total lack of star power on the roster. (Apologies in Antawn, but #cmonson.)
Then, a run, 15-4 for the home team, keyed by more clever passing from Mo Williams, Boobie Gibson and Jamison, and by some impressive energy from Ryan Hollins. Early in the second quarter, it’s 29-18.
Also, just got word on LeBron’s absence: DNP-FU
Have I mentioned that Troy Murphy and Terrence Williams are inactive tonight? I have not, but they are. This is a great thing about the NBA: In pretty much any other sport, if Team A loses to Team B at home one night, then goes to play Team B on the road the next night without two of its top-eight players, the weakened Team A would be pretty much guaranteed to lose. In the NBA, this sort of logic does not apply.
Lots of JJ Hickson in the first half. I know I’m not alone in thinking he was the guy who might be most adversely affected by LeBron’s departure. So far, though, it looks like JJ has accepted the challenge of expanding his game beyond “guy who runs the break and finishes oops.” He’s got 11 at the half, by which points the Cavs are up 52-42. Harris has 18 for the Nets, which, do the math. If he doesn’t tweet “All Alone 34″ at around 2 a.m. tonight, I’m gonna be really disappointed in his lack of historical appreciation.
Anyway, it’s like this for most of the third quarter, Cavs up by 6 or 8, before the Nets trim it to 69-67 at the end of the third. Courtesy of an Anthony Morrow three. Every time I look up tonight, it seems Anthony Morrow is hitting a three. By the end of the game, I will have looked up five times.
If you’re on the Twitter, you already laughed at this, but: Team Jacob! Or, uh, Edward! I don’t know. Kris Humphries is en route to 13 and 18 in 40 minutes. Not as impressive as the 31 and 9 Devin Harris will finish with, but not bad, you handsome bastard, you.
Also, down the stretch, this happens. Someday, when Derrick Favors has learned not to leave his feet when a big man pump fakes 18 feet from the basket, he’ll thank JJ. And Humphries will curse them both.
But: The Nets win, 95-87. Cavs shoot 51 percent in the first half, then 37 percent in the second. Byron Scott afterward says his team looked tired. You know, second night of a back-to-back, whereas the Nets were well rested because… oh.
Nice balance for the Cavs, but not a clue who’s actually in charge of this team down the stretch. In fairness, Mo Williams plays just 22 minutes before being abducted in the third quarter. Sorry, an “abductor”? Never heard of that. They kidnapped his ass. I don’t know who, but it happened. (He’s back in the lockerroom after the game, though, so that’s good.)
I think I stole the abduction thing from someone on Twitter last night. Probably Russ. Can’t remember, but credit where it might possibly be due.
Verdict? Props to the Cavs fans for sticking with their team (so far, at least), and to the Cavs for giving their fans a team worth sticking with. I could see an inspired one-and-done playoff run from these guys, but they’ll have to overachieve all season. Something tells me they’ll try.
And the Nets? I’m pissed I didn’t get to see TWill, one of my favorite college players of recent years. They’re better than last year, obviously, but the Prokhorov Effect is still gonna need a while to kick in.