Bill Walton and Dick Vitale will go down as two of the most memorable basketball broadcasters in television history, and they were both in Cleveland tonight to call the game between the Cavaliers and Pacers for ESPN.
It had been 15 years since Walton and Vitale called a game together. The last time they did so was on a December night in 2002, also in Cleveland. It was the night LeBron James, as a high school senior, played his first game on a national stage. The expectations for the then-17-year-old were enormous. Of course, he exceeded them.
Ever since that night, the expectations for LeBron have always been high. However, if there were a night for them to be lowered slightly, it would be on the end of a back-to-back, after he just played 40 minutes the night before, and oh by the way he is not 17 anymore.
No matter. It was business as usual for LeBron. He looked spry, not quite like he was 17 again, but certainly not like he was 32. The looming All-Star break probably gave him a little bit of a mental boost. He finished the night with 31 points on 12-of-17 shooting, with five rebounds and four assists.
He also played just 33 minutes, a welcome load after logging 40 last night against Minnesota.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign of the night for the Cavs though came at the start of the fourth quarter. With LeBron resting, the Cavs had a three point lead and managed to stretch it to 10, without help from their best player. They never looked back, and won by a final score of 113-104.
The All-Star break is now here, and the Cavs will not play again until next Thursday (February 23) when they host the Knicks.
Some other notes:
- I should probably mention that Kyrie Irving was also good tonight. He had 26 points and seven assists.
- Kyle Korver is on fire. He was 6-of-8 shooting threes tonight, and finished with 22 points. He’s 30-of-47 in his last eight games. That’s a cool 64 percent.
- As a team, the Cavs were 18-of-39 from deep tonight, despite Channing Frye going 0-of-6.
- For Indiana, Paul George was very good early on, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. But he finished with just 13 points on 19 shots.