Thursday, January 22, 2009

Halfway home...

Geographically the Cavaliers are still far away from home, but road trip-wise they are halfway done with their four-game swing out West. And Test #2 was a success last night as the Cavs beat the Blazers 104-98 (highlights) in a highly entertaining game in the Rose Garden. And yes, the game was in the Rose Garden as Austin Carr reminded us about 50 times - after each three-point dagger drilled by Mo Williams or LeBron James. You gotta love AC.

The much-needed win wouldn't have been possible without the great outside touch displayed by both LeBron and Mo, who combined for 67 points on 26-of-49 shooting, including 9/15 from outside the arc. LeBron also finished the night with 14 assists after the Blazers' defense collapsed on him all night and cut him off from driving into the lane. He was basically forced into settling for his outside shot when he had a couple of drives blocked early in the game, followed by a couple of no-calls on obvious fouls (I'm trying hard not to be a homer here, but some of these fouls in the last two games have been blatant, yet are still going uncalled).

Mo Williams was outstanding on his way to his Cavalier-high 33 points. I loved the way he stepped up when the team needed him most last night. Let's hope this continues throughout the rest of the trip because an aggressive Mo on offense can really make up for a lot of the offense missing with the absence of Delonte and Z.

Mo torched the Blazers on Wednesday night

Other surprises from last night:
  • Wally Szczerbiak collected a team-high 10 rebounds to go along 8 points in 26 productive minutes off the bench.
  • The Cavs outrebounded the NBA's top rebounding team by 4 without Z.
  • Anderson Varejao seemed to be back to his normal self with 12 points and 8 rebounds.
  • The Cavs only attempted 15 free throws to the Blazers' 33, yet still came away with the win in a hostile environment against a very talented team.
  • With last night's win the Cavaliers have successfully navigated through half of their 82 game schedule without racking up consecutive losses. Quite an accomplishment if you ask me. They are now 8-0 following a loss.
So the road trip continues tomorrow night in Golden State when the Cavs take on the Warriors at 10:00pm. You never know what to expect from that team and their hectic style of play, but it should be a good opportunity for the shorthanded Cavs to come home from the Western trip at least 2-2. All things considered, that would be an accomplishment by itself.