They say defense wins championships, not ratings, but I have to disagree. I like watching our team get stops, force missed shots, and steal possessions. That's what the Cleveland Cavaliers pride themselves upon.
So tonight's game wasn't easy for me to watch. Granted, for two quarters, it played out much better than our pathetic game at Toronto in the second game in the season. We were outscored by double digits in the first half and never got close enough again in that game. Tonight, all the Cavs looked happy to be done with the West Coast and back home, especially Hickson, Parker, and Varejao.
But we could never halt Toronto's shooting until the third quarter, when our defense began to work and we built an 8 point lead. Toronto cut it to 3 with LeBron and Mo on the bench, and the refs made several debatable calls at best, but the Cavs showed the poise of the East's top team and the Raptors did not down the stretch, and we finally put the game away in the final minute.
LeBron James: 8-18, 28 points, 11 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks, 1 rebound shy of a triple double. With some sweet dunks in the second half, LeBron was as dazzling as ever. True, he encountered a stretch of chucking 3s and not hitting any while the rest of the team stood still, but let's face it...we're going to see that in every game.
Mo Williams: 7-15, 22 points, 10 assists, 4-8 three point shooting, +17 +/-. When Mo Williams crouched down, holding his arm, the Q became as silent as a tomb. He went to the locker room in the third but eventually returned in the 4th to hit two 3 pointers. Looking at his stats, it's no wonder we were worried. We need him for Thursday...he'll be our best weapon.
Shaquille O'Neal: 7-10, 16 points, 2-3 FTs, 5 rebounds, 2 assists. Tonight, Shaq became just the fifth player in NBA history to score 28,000 points. I don't know about you, but I'm happy to have him on our team as he accomplishes this rare feat. He had a good game and played 24 minutes, including almost all of the 4th quarter except for the final minute, which I don't think he's done this season. But he provided a great presence, grabbing rebounds and getting the ball to LeBron in the 4th quarter.
You all know who our next opponent is. They're finally paying the price having so many home games with an 8-game road trip. Here's our chance to start them off in a tailspin and improve our chances of having the NBA's best record.