LeBron James travels to Madison Square Garden just once this season. Ever the showman, LeBron wanted to make sure he gave the fans of the home-town Knicks something to remember - and something to hope for. James was nearly flawless - as were his Cavaliers teammates - in a 40-point first quarter pacing the Cavaliers to a 100-91 beating of the New York Knicks.
James 19 point start to the game was filled with everything that makes LeBron so special - drives to the basket, long-range jumpshots, no-look passes and lock down defense. The Cavs shot over 75% for the quarter and the games was never really in doubt again. James finished with 33 on 12-17 shooting. He added 8 rebounds and 9 assists as well.
Mike Brown, in an effort to revitalize the Cavaliers bench, started J.J. Hickson alongside Shaq. Hickson played just 6 minutes, however, scoring 6 points. By having Anderson Varejao coming off the bench, the Cavaliers were able to maintain their energy level. In fact, Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Varejao all came in at teh same time around the 6-minute mark of the first quarter. All 5 started for the Cavaliers in 2008-09 and it was amazing how quickly the team seemed to pick up right where it left off.
The rest of the game was filled with bad defense, poor shot selection and seemed to be a complete version of how NOT to play basketball.
Anthony Parker played closer to what he should - 22 minutes - splitting time evenly with Delonte West. While West scored just 3 points, and Parker 7, the true difference between the two is in the +/-. In a game the Cavaliers led by double-digits almost the entire way, Parker managed to break even. West was a solid +18. Figure that one out.
It was also nice to see the return of Z. Gone was the twin-tower experiment - at least for one game - and this allowed Z to find a comfort zone, especially offensively. After going 0-9 last night against the Bulls, Z bounced back with a 9 point, 11 rebound game - his finest of the season in my opinion.
For the Knicks it was the same ole' same ole. I still can see now justifyable reason LeBron would want to play for the Knicks. If winning is all that matters, as LeBron says it is, then the Knicks would be last on my list.
A win is a win and this game falls right into that. The Cavaliers now get a few days off to get some of these issues handled. They had better, because a trip through Florida awaits, with Orlando on Wednesday and Miami on Thursday.