This was a pretty awesome game to have been to. Not really because anything good happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In fact, it was fun because of the bad things that happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The bad things came from a very bad man, James Harden.
Harden is almost always spectacular, but tonight he was special. His game is the model of offensive efficiency. He gets to the free throw line at will, and once he gets there, he makes them. He doesn't take midrange jump shots. He takes it to the rim or he takes shots that are worth three points.
Tonight, he was fouled four times while attempting three pointers. Considering he made two of them, and made every free throw he attempted on the night, it was pretty devastating for Cleveland. He didn't play at all in the fourth quarter but still accumulated 37 points on 15 shots while also handing out 11 assists. I want the Cavs to win every game, but it was pretty cool seeing someone in such complete control of the game. That the Cavaliers could have maybe, potentially, traded for him? I don't like to think about it.
Houston also got good performances from Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverley. Those role players are going to be huge to any title aspirations the Rockets may have. Honestly, I'm not even sure Parsons is a role player anymore, especially when Dwight Howard is out. The team relies on him a ton. Parsons had 16 points and six assists. He didn't do any one thing great, but was a positive influence the whole game.
The Cavaliers went through phases of competence in the game, and the effort level was pretty darn good. Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, and Anderson Varejao played well. Even when they were down by 25+. they kept at it and got as close as seven points down. Waiters was pretty efficient, scoring 26 points on 20 shots. He ran the Cavaliers offense effectively, finishing with eight assists to just three turnovers. It's neat to see him grow. Given the reports about his status with the Cavs in December, the place we find ourselves in with him now is great. He could still end up being really good.
Tristan Thompson was a non factor for most of the game but put together a decent stretch as the Cavaliers made a late but ultimately meaningless run. His defense on Terrence Jones was pretty decent but I don't know that it was something to write home about. I can put it in this recap though. He finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Maybe he can build some confidence from this after a really rough stretch.
Spencer Hawes, though, was bad. He was benched for large parts of the game for what appeared to be defensive shortcomings. He wasn't that helpful offensively either. He finished with just three points on seven shots, didn't rebound, and added two turnovers to go with two assists. After he played so great in his first couple weeks in Cleveland, the regression makes some sense.
The truth is, with Harden playing the way he did, this was going to be a really tough game to win. The Cavaliers made it a five point game midway through the 3rd quarter, and then James Harden just did a bunch of James Harden things. The team then outscored the Rockets 32-17 in the fourth quarter. They keep playing hard.
Of note: Omri Casspi played in this game for the Houston Rockets. He was not good. He finished with 0 points on three shots, and turned the ball over five times. gross.