It was obvious that the Cavaliers could not top Tuesday night's performance when they travelled to Charlotte on Wednesday. Coming off the win of the season, it would be fair to expect a huge letdown on the 2nd night of a back-to-back. I braced myself for the seemingly inevitable blowout loss, yet was pleasantly surprised.
There is no burning desire deep within me to beat the Bobcats. Heck, I can hardly name the Bobcats' starting roster. Therefore, I was content with what I got from the Cavs last night which was a solid performance with a good amount of effort and energy. In my opinion, this reflects well on the character of this team as well as the coaching ability of Byron Scott. The players managed to come ready to play when a complete "no-show" effort would have been all too easy to justify. Granted, the Cavaliers didn't win the game and faltered when it was do or die, but that's pretty much what we expect at this point. When a game comes down to one final possession the star player takes over and does his thing. As you may know, the Cavaliers don't have a star player so it was up to Ramon Sessions and Anthony Parker. Now, if you expect either of those guys to come through with a clutch buzzer beater on a regular basis then I cannot help you. However, if you are at all reasonable, you recognize that last night was a very respectable effort from a 15-win team with essentially nothing left to play for.Within the game itself, the Cavs caught a break. The Bobcats' leading scorer, Stephen Jackson, left with a sore hamstring and did not return. Charlotte then focused on running its offense through Boris Diaw with remarkable success. One night removed from shutting down all-star forward, Chris Bosh, the Cavaliers frontline got obliterated in the paint by the ferocious tandem of Diaw and Kwame Brown. Diaw posted a near triple double with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 11 assists. Brown chipped in 16 points and the Bobcats combined for 54 points in the paint. Ryan Hollins and J.J. Hickson both experience foul trouble which led to Luke Harangody and Joey Graham getting more minutes than Scott would have liked. Despite this, the Cavaliers got pretty solid all around play, specifically from Sessions (24 points) and Hickson (20 points).
The Cavaliers were given the opportunity to win with possession, down by 1, with 13 seconds left. Cleveland called timeout and appeared to run a play for Ramon Sessions, only to have him get trapped with nowhere to go. Byron Scott was forced to call another timeout with under 3 seconds remaining. The play coming out of the timeout resulted in Anthony Parker having his shot partially blocked by Dominic McGuire (who?) and bricking off of the backboard.
So did the Cavs close out the game well? No. Did they win? No. Was their execution on the final play essentially horrible? For sure. All of that being said, I still cannot complain. A solid effort and further development for this team are all we could have asked for. It's great to see that these guys still care against Charlotte rather than Miami. All things considered the final weeks of this season may turn out relatively well and another loss simply puts Cleveland that much closer to winning the lottery and rebuilding for the future.