Tag Archive for 'Cleveland Cavaliers'

Lakers – Cavaliers Running Diary

Lebron KobeAs always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Previous Lakers – Cavaliers Running Diary/Postgame
Lakers – Cavaliers Running Diary 1-19-2009
Lakers 105, Cavs 88: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Andrew Bynum
Cavaliers: Tarence Kinsey, Eric Snow, Delonte West

Starters
Lakers: Fish, Kobe, Luke, Lamar and Pau
Cavaliers: Mo Williams, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Ben Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Like assistant coach Jim Cleamons told us before the game, the key for the Lakers is to get everybody involved. Cleveland’s too good in general, and particularly at home (undefeated…) for L.A. not to have everyone on their roster contribute in some way.

First Quarter
12:00 I liked LeBron’s introduction. After his name’s announced and the fans start to lose their minds, he does the double-hand slap and salute with each and every Cavs player.

11:20 After Kobe missed his first perimeter jumper, LeBron hit his. Maybe that’ll make King James feel like he has his shot going from outside and keep him out of the lane a little better?

10:41 Mo Williams for three, with his first “Thanks-for-leaving-me-out-the-All-Star-game-Mr.-Stern” shot. Odom would answer with a nice move around Wallace to make it a 5-4 Cavs lead early.

7:43 Bryant used a nice cut to get inside the defense on consecutive possessions, receiving nice passes from nice-passing Gasol and Odom. If you’re L.A., you love that triangle action.

4:45 What stood out most in the first seven minutes was how effective offensively the Lakers were against Cleveland’s vaunted defense. Lamar and Pau between them were 5-of-6 from the field, generally abusing Big Z and Big Ben, respectively, en route to 10 of L.A.’s 20 points. The Cavs, however, shot the ball well too (8-of-15) to see L.A. take a 20-18 lead into a timeout.

1:34 Ty pointed out that “The Q” (Quicken Loans Arena) has this on their scoreboard: “The Diff.” So, when Cleveland’s up 27-26, it says “+1.” Cleveland’s more of a liberal arts city than a mathematical one. Meanwhile, no team has yet to lead by more than three.

Center of Attention: A big difference, literally, between this game and L.A.’s 105-88 win at STAPLES was that the Lakers had their center (Andrew Bynum) and Cleveland was missing theirs (Z), which is no longer the case. And the Cavs weren’t shy about going to Z, who took eight shots and made five for 12 points; all but one of his shots was from the perimeter.

0:23.5 Wally Szczerbiak, he of the broken nose suffered last game, canned his first three despite having a big mask on his face before Bryant tied the game with two free throws. When Gasol was at the line on the previous possession, the Cavs put a Pittsburgh Steelers logo up on the jumbotron in hopes of inspiring boos. That was solid.

0:00 The quarter closed when Pavlovic converted a solid Anderson Varejao baseball pass for a last-second layup that gave Cleveland a 32-30 lead. Cleveland shot 50 percent, and the Lakers 54.5 in a well-played first quarter that looked nothing like L.A.’s opening stanza against Boston on Thursday. Kobe, by the way, guarded LeBron for almost the whole quarter and held him to 2-of-4 shooting for four points, without a free throw attempt.
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Lakers Preparing for LeBron, Cavs

Best in the East?
Perfect 80 degree weather and the NFC Championship game (see: Kobe’s insistence that his Eagles t-shirt hang from his locker) didn’t keep the Lakers out of the gym on Sunday afternoon, not with LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers coming into town on Monday.

Cleveland is perhaps the last, if not the best, contender for the championship trophy that the L.A. has yet to play. After all, the purple and gold have already seen Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, New Orleans, Utah and Houston (and even Denver and Phoenix).

Why are the 31-7 Cavs so dangerous? The very obvious answer is LeBron’s 27.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and All-First Team defense.

“(James has) made some improvements, in terms of protecting the lane, getting out in passing lanes, but he’s his usual stellar self,” said Kobe Bryant after practice. “I’m a big fan of his … I think he’s terrific.”

Kobe conceded that LeBron’s Olympic experience probably helped spur his defense on this season, and also said that he will “definitely” guard James at times during Monday’s game.

But it’s anything but a one-man team in Cleveland … LeBron’s been boosted by the presence of Mo Williams – a free agent acquisition from Milwaukee – who has taken some of the ball-handling pressure off James, and is a terrific perimeter shooter.

“He’s a big help, a legitimate scoring threat,” said Kobe of Williams. “He’s a person you have to identify, and we played him last year when he was in Milwaukee and he gave us fits.”

Throw in some other smooth shooters like Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, Booby Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic, plus three bigs who play good defense – Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao – and your squad’s looking strong to quite strong.

On Monday, however, the Cavs will be without two starters: Ilgauskas, who’s been on the shelf with a bad ankle, and West, who broke his wrist against Chicago last week.

Walton Goes Through Full Practice, But Won’t Start
Luke Walton completed his first full practice since missing the last eight games due to his foot injury.

“You can run all day but until you’ve actually played defense, switched, gone over screens and rebounded, it’s not the same,” said Walton. “It felt great, it didn’t hurt at all.”

Though Walton was very effective against Cleveland last season, Phil Jackson will continue to start Vladimir Radmanovic.

“Last year, I thought Luke did a really good job on (James) when he played him,” said Jackson. “(But) he’s still feeling his way a little bit.”

Sasha Finds Shooting Touch
Phil Jackson liked what he saw from Sasha Vujacic at Sunday’s practice: “He was shooting the ball (well) and looks like he’s back in rhythm,” explained the coach.

“I’m glad he said that,” said Vujacic. “It’s definitely good to be back … I’m feeling good. (The Lakers training staff) has been huge in getting me ready to play, and I’m 100 percent right now.”

With Vujacic and Walton both feeling much better, L.A. finally has 13 players healthy, and is waiting only on Farmar to boast its full complement of players.