The Cleveland Cavaliers got blown out tonight. Most of us saw it, or listened to it or by now heard about it. The final score - 118-90 - is bad enough. The way the Cavaliers reacted during the game was even worse.
For me it started even before the game when LeBron James and Antawn Jamison shared a hug at half-court. I'm fine with guys being friends, off the court. It was one of the criticisms I had of LeBron james when he was a Cavalier. Who could forget his joking around with Detroit Pistons after Rasheed Wallace split open Zydrunas Ilgauskas' head? No, tonight, of all nights, should have been about giving LeBron James the cold shoulder. Like the fans, the Cavaliers players needed to make sure LeBron DID NOT feel at home at The Q.
Unfortunately, they failed.
Throughout the first half, as LeBron James was trying to get into a flow, he could be seen smiling, joking, talking with Cavaliers coaches and players. At different time, LeBron had some fun with Daniel Gibson, Chris Jent and J.J. Hickson. To be completely honest, the sight of it sickened me. What has been missing in LeBron's game all season - the fun - came back tonight and much of it was provided and enabled by the Cavaliers. It was like LeBron had never left.
In fact, it looked like the Cavaliers didn't want LeBron James mad at THEM. "Hey, LeBron, it's the fans that are chanting all those mean things. We still love you".
Once LeBron got going, and we have all seen this before, LeBron really go going. James scored 10 points in the first quarter, 4 points in the second and went off in the third quarter scoring 24 points. The 24 points was the most James has ever scored in one quarter at The Q.
As for the Cavaliers, they all appeared to be in awe of James and the Heat. Mo Williams was just 2-8 for 11 points. Anthony Parker was even worse, scoring 3 points on 1-4 shooting. Williams and Parker combined for 14 points and 8 turnovers. Not the kind of production you expect from your starting backcourt.
In the end, however, I'll take a couple things away from tonight. First, the fans came strong. They had something to say, said it, and were ready to put this team on their backs and will them victory. Secondly, the image of LeBron, with that big smile on his face, yukking it up with his former teammates. Guys that talked the past few days about how they knew tonight was different. Guys that LeBron had told, more or less, you aren't good enough to play with me when he decided to head to South Beach. Today they showed why James may have felt that way. They looked like lost puppy dogs playing against LeBron instead of professional basketball players playing for the pride and dignity of their city.
That is the biggest disappointment about tonight. Once again, the fans seemed to care more than the players. That's what hurts the most.
I'm hoping Byron Scott uses tonight as a learning opportunity with his team. Otherwise, it's time to make some changes.