Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Magic in Memphis

Instead of the usual breakdown of links to start the morning (that will come later), I have to discuss the incomparable Lebron James. With the writers strike in full effect (nothing on TV), watching a good hour of the Democratic Presidential debate was plenty. The best college basketball game of the night was already over (MSU over OSU). Now what? So we looked in on the Cavs/Grizzlies game while on the treadmill. Once again, it was the Lebron James show and it didn't disappoint.

#23 nailed threes. He drove to the hole. He hit fadeaway jumpers. He knocked down free throws. He grabbed rebounds. He dished out dimes. Final tally: Cavaliers 132 Grizzlies 124 in OT. Lebron James: 51 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, 3 steals. He shot 18-28 from the floor including 6-12 from deep. 51 points is amazing enough, but showing he's not just a scorer, he was finding teammates all night to the tune of nine assists. His no-look pass to Anderson Varajao in OT when three Grizzlies jumped on was a thing of beauty, put the Cavs up eight, and put the nail in the Memphis coffin.

Said Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni: "LeBron is fantastic. I think he's got more passing ability than Magic [Johnson] because he can put it on a dime and with zip. It's a function of his ability to score. He allows people to get free." Interestingly enough, Iavaroni decided to play Lebron one on one all night with Mike Miller, not exaclty a player known for his defensive prowess. Lebron torched him. ''They weren't as aggressive as I thought they'd be,'' James said. ''If that happens and I get the opportunity to play one-on-one, there may be a few more games like this.''

Not to be out overlooked were the contributions of the bench bunch. While Sasha Pavlovic (17 minutes) and Larry Hughes (2-8 shooting in 23 minutes) continue to start and struggle, coach Mike Brown used a combination of Daniel Gibson, Damon Jones, and Devin Brown in the key stretches late and it paid off. It was Jones' three pointer with 2:36 left gave the Cavs a one point lead that they never gave up. Jones nailed 2-4 from deep for nine key points. Gibson hit 4-7 from deep for 18 points. Devin Brown added seven in 19 minutes while playing stifling D.

Anderson Varajao played another stellar game. In 40 minutes, he was all over the floor once again, scoring 11, grabbing seven boards, and drawing two of his customary charges. Z and Drew Gooden were solid combining for 26 points and 19 rebounds. ''This is not the way we want to play; we don't like shootouts,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. ''But we will take the win.''

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