The Cavs truly showed that they are the better team tonight despite a mini comeback attempt by the Wolves in the fourth. It was too little too late for the Wolves as they ran out of time to make a come-back against the Lebron and the quite playful Cavaliers. The Cavs notched their 36th win of the season and move to 18-3 at home.
The most complete team in the NBA, in my opinion, shot nearly 55% from the field while holding the Wolves to under 100 points and 38.9% in shooting. Sadly, the Wolves let this one get out of hand in the second quarter. After hanging with the Cavs bucket for bucket in the first, Lebron opened up the floor and started carving the Wolves’ defense with assist after assist.
Lebron had somewhat of an off night scoring with only 12 points on 3-8 shooting. He didn’t need to score though as his teammates picked up the production around him while he sat back and conducted a beautifully orchestrated game. Lebron ended up with 11 assists, the 12th time this season with double-digit assists, and he didn’t even play much in the fourth. Forward J.J. Hickson was a special surprise tonight and filled in for Lebron’s scoring lapse quite nicely. He finished with 23 points and ripped eight boards down along with it. He was shooting from outside and attacking the rim to grab rebounds away from the Wolves’ frontcourt.
The Wolves had trouble getting open looks against the NBA’s 6th best team in defensive efficiency. They did only give up eight turnovers but the Cavs had five blocks, including a nasty chase-down swat on Brewer’s breakaway lay-up from Lebron himself. The bench I can say was non-existent. Love didn’t start but he played nearly the whole game and quietly posted a 20-10 night for himself. Quietly is the key word there. This guy is such a solid player but his games seem to be so under the radar, it’s easy to miss. This is why I don’t know if this guy can become the leader on this squad or the face of the franchise as badly as everyone wants him to. Prove me wrong please. Now as for the rest of the bench, they combined for 4-18 and 11 points. Pathetic, I know.
Another good night for Brewer — he really is starting to come around and is drawing national attention with his staggering numbers recently. Tonight the numbers weren’t as impressive, but Brewer went 8-19 and put up 22. His charisma and heart are fun to watch but now that his game is starting to back it up, I’m starting to come around a lot more!
Flynn was a not much of a factor in this one but did put a smile on my face at one point. He stole back a potential steal from Anderson Varejao, then with the shot-clock running down, he hurls it up from way beyond the three-point line only to watch it swish through while he jogged back with a grin from ear to ear. Sweet.
As for Jefferson, he did tally the double-double I was hoping for tonight but it wasn’t pretty by any means; 14 points, 10 boards on 6-18 shooting. Some could look at that stat line and say it isn’t so bad but when we’re talking about an elite center in this league, that’s not acceptable. Jefferson looked tired, sluggish and emotionally frustrated from the start and was forcing very bad shots. It wasn’t until about seven minutes left in the fourth did he regain some confidence but it wasn’t enough. It didn’t help that he had to face Shaq — whom by the way looked to weigh about 400 lbs. tonight. Shaq put up 13 on him but seemed to fill and dominate the entire paint alone. The Cavs actually had 34 points in the paint in the first half alone as the Wolves had difficulty covering the simple pick-and-roll from the top of the key. I think Jefferson will appreciate going back home for a day of rest before the Wolves play the Clippers on Friday.
So much for a successful road trip. The Wolves will be coming home from a depressing tenure against a few Eastern Conference teams. They get a day off and then host the L.A. Clippers on Friday night.