I'll be honest, it wasn't that close. The Nets got really hot shooting the ball and outscored the Cavaliers 30-20 in the first quarter. The Cavs weren't able to close the gap at all until the fourth quarter and by then it was just too little, too late.
Cavs Leaders: Points: Irving, 32; Rebounds: Varejao, 9; Assists: Gibson, 4
Here's what I wrote in my preview:
Kyrie Irving is better, after playing just 16 games, than former all-world point guard Deron Williams has played with New Jersey.
Seems like a pretty reasonable statement to me. Deron Williams hasn't played great this season or in the end of last season when he was with the Nets. I never said that Kyrie was overall better than Deron or that he would even finish the year ahead of him. All I said was that up to this point, in the small sample size of the season, Kyrie outplayed Deron. That's all.
Well, here's apparently what a lot of people thought that I wrote:
DERON WILLIAMS IS THE WORST BASKETBALL PLAYER OF ALL TIME. HE WILL BE OUT OF THE LEAGUE IN TWO YEARS AND PROBABLY REGRETS EVER BEING IN NEW JERSEY. HE PROBABLY WISHES HE RETIRED INSTEAD OF GOING TO NEW JERSEY. I HAVE SEEN DRUNKEN BABIES THAT PLAY POINT GUARD BETTER THAN D-WILL. KYRIE IRVING IS BETTER THAN MICHAEL JORDAN. HE IS AND FOREVER WILL BE, THE BEST PLAYER ALIIVVVEEEEEEEEEEE.
(Hint: I didn't write that. Well, I mean just now I wrote it, but I didn't write it in my preview)
Anyway, back to the game.
The Cavs as a whole were really sloppy and just didn't bring as much energy as the Nets. New Jersey was getting open jumpers early and kept knocking them down. As I said, they jumped out to a 10 point lead in the first quarter and Cleveland could never really cut into that lead. By the time the fourth quarter came around and Kyrie realized that he could score whenever he wanted, it was too late.
Omri Casspi and Daniel Gibson were having a hard time knocking down shots. It wasn't that the Nets played fantastic defense as much as the Cavs inability to knock down the open looks that they got. Boobie may have had his worst game of the season as he finished 0-5 from the field.
The Cavs once again struggled from the free throw line, shooting just 14-24. If they make their free throws, this is a significantly different game. Byron Scott has to be getting a little concerned with the work on the charity stripe. 58 percent is not going to cut it.
The defense wasn't great. Jordan Farmar and Deron Williams were able to get into the paint far too easily. This allowed them to collapse the defense and kick out to the open shooters. The perimeter guys need to make it harder for guards to penetrate.
Antawn Jamison did pretty much what we expect from him at this point. Tawn scored 20 points on 18 shots and that's the role we ask him to play. He's not the most efficient guy by any means, but he can create and hit his own shot while no one other than Kyrie can do the same.
Tristan Thompson looked a little off after missing two games with an ankle injury. He couldn't get into rhythm and took some pretty difficult shots. He just needs more minutes and experience to get used to the NBA game and develop a consistent set of go-to moves. I think we've all been a little spoiled with the play of Kyrie and that causes us to be impatient with Tigger. Most guys don't step out of college and dominate at the pro level like Ky has been able to do. TT will figure it out and develop into a very solid player. My opinion on this has not changed.
Token comment about how much I love Anderson Varejao. If he needed to play 48 minutes per night, he probably could. The dude just doesn't get tired. I love it.
Fear The Sword's Player Of The Game:
I'm running out of adjectives to describe his play this season. You could tell that something clicked last night late in the fourth quarter. He pretty much realized that he is the best player, he can pick apart defenses, and nobody can really check him. He poured in 21 points in the final quarter including 17 in the final three minutes. The full arsenal of moves was on display last night. 32 points on 20 shots and in only 31 minutes. He's unbelievable and we are truly fortunate to watch him play and grow up every night.
The players who score more points per 40 minutes than Ky? Kobe, Bron, Melo, Durant, and Love. Of those players how many have a higher percentage? Durant and James. That's it. (hat tip to @teamrobhogg for the stat)
Crap, I almost forgot that Alonzo Gee completely baptized the Nets on this monster dunk! Check it out