It was the same old story against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. The Cavaliers fell into an enormous hole early on and then spent the rest of the game fighting to get out of it. Cleveland actually managed to climb all the way back, but then couldn't close it out, losing 86-83 and falling to 13-19 on the season. Anthony Parker had a last second chance to tie the game, but front-rimmed the deep three pointer. Anthony Parker ruins everything. Welcome back, though.
Cavs Leaders: Points: Irving, 24; Rebounds: Thompson, 10; Assists: Parker, 5
It was apparent early on that Antawn Jamison defending Kevin Garnett was not working. He scored 10 easy point early on and that was a big reason why the Cavs fell behind so quickly. That and the fact that Brandon Bass could not miss at all. The first quarter was one of those incredibly infuriating quarters in which the opposing team just hits a ton of long jumpers and the Cavs couldn't hit anything. I said at the time that it didn't seem sustainable -- and it wasn't. The Celtics weren't shredding our defense, they were just hitting jump shots. It's statistically improbable that they would continue to shoot 60% on jumpers for the rest of the game. Eventually, they regressed to the mean and the Cavaliers were able to climb back into the ballgame.
Hey, how about Alonzo Gee's defense? He was suffocating on Paul Pierce. It was awesome to watch, really. Pierce would get the ball and then try a bunch of up-fakes and fancy footwork to get an open look, but simply could not shake Gee. Alonzo's defensive efforts led to a miserable night for Pierce in which he shot just 4 of 11 and committed 6 turnovers. Some of the shots that Pierce did hit were simply ridiculous. He took some fadeaway jumpers with two guys in his face and drained a few. Overall though, Gee was terrific defensively.
Speaking of defense, Kyrie Irving played some damn good defense on Rajon Rondo. People have bemoaned Kyrie's ability on the defensive end of the floor, but he came out Tuesday and held the "all-star" point guard to ZERO points. Zero of 6 shooting -- booyah! Rondo had 11 assists, but those came with a price as he also committed 5 turnovers. Similarly, Boston's backup point guard, Keyon Dooling came in relief and scored a whopping zero points as well. Kyrie's defense was NOT the problem in this game.
Antawn Jamison had a pretty brutal game. It was like a flashback to the 2010 playoffs against the Celtics as far as 'Tawn was concerned. Garnett ate him up on the low block and Jamison couldn't score at all. He shot a brutal 4 of 15 and scored just 8 points. I've talked about the stats several times before, but when Jamison shoots really poorly, Cleveland tends to lose games.
I'll give props to Ray Allen here, I guess. He's an ageless wonder. He consistently drains three pointers and led the Celtics with 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting. He's still a pretty good player and if the Celtics are willing to trade him, could be a huge addition to a contending team.
Tristan Thompson registered his third double-double in the past four games. That's pretty good considering he hasn't played very many minutes. He once again grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with his 13 points and the most stunning part of that is that SIX of his rebounds were of the offensive variety. That's a lot of offensive rebounds. He had some nice dunks, including a put-back slam and continued to show overall improvement. He also shot an encouraging 3 of 4 from the free throw line.
Manny Harris entered the game and HARRISTERIA broke out. Okay, not really. He played for the final 6 seconds of the first quarter and compiled no stats whatsoever. Regardless, his mere presence inspired the team and sparked the whole comeback. You will not convince me otherwise.
Samardo Samuels played! His performance wasn't particularly notable, other than the fact that it means Ryan Hollins did not play. I fully support this concept. Samuels is much better than Hollins. He deserves to play ahead of him. The end.
Fear The Sword's Player of the Game:
The rookie sparked the whole comeback with his 13 points in the third quarter. He decided to takeover and dragged the Cavs back into this game. The Celtics made the silly mistake of not guarding him at the three point line and he made them pay. He hit 3 of 3 from deep (which makes 11 in a row if you count the Rising Stars game) and led all scorers with 24 points. He made a few questionable decisions down the stretch, including a boneheaded turnover and missing a layup that seemed to be relatively wide-open. Kyrie also provided the scariest moment of the season when he went down after taking a charge and was rushed to the locker room. His pinky looked all messed up and I almost had a heart attack. Thankfully, he returned minutes later and the team announced his injury as an "elbow contusion." Apparently he was okay and would return to the game. He played just 27 minutes but made the most of them by shooting 8 of 14, grabbing 4 rebounds, and assisting on 3 buckets.