The Bulls Have no Defense for the CavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers easily beat the Chicago Bulls 113-94 in the first game of TNT's Thursday night doubleheader. The Bulls have gone 1-3 since their stunning 108-66 opening night win against the NBA Champion Miami Heat. Drew Gooden led the Cavs with 20 points and had a game-high nine rebounds (a total matched by Zydrunas Ilgauskas). LeBron James finished with 19 points, 12 assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots. Kirk Hinrich had 20 points and 11 assists. Ben Wallace was almost completely invisible--two points, five rebounds, one blocked shot.
P.J. Brown scored the Bulls' first six points of the game and Chicago took an early 9-6 lead. Gooden countered by making three of his first four field goal attempts and Cleveland pulled to within 10-9 at the 6:50 mark. James did not score until his two free throws with 4:33 remaining put Cleveland ahead 17-11. Cleveland led 30-18 by the end of the quarter.
Ilgauskas went to the bench with 7:01 remaining in the second quarter after committing his third foul. Instead of Chicago making a run with big "Z" out of the game the Cavaliers scored seven straight points to lead 42-25. The Cavaliers led 52-39 at halftime. The Cavaliers outrebounded the Bulls 29-16 in the first half and held Ben Gordon, Chicago's leading scorer, to 0-6 shooting from the field (he finished with two points on 1-10 shooting).
Hinrich opened the third quarter scoring with a three pointer but midway through the quarter the Cavaliers led 66-51. Chicago made a mini-run to get within 77-68 but Donyell Marshall hit a three pointer at the buzzer to give Cleveland an 80-68 lead at the end of the quarter.
The Cavaliers stepped on the gas pedal in the fourth quarter and pushed their advantage to 91-70 by the 8:07 mark. Bulls coach Scott Skiles offered this summary of the game: "They pretty much had their way with us. They went right through our defense and we couldn't get anything going. We couldn't stop any part of their lineup."
Before the game, various TNT commentators offered their opinions about the controversy surrounding LeBron James' conduct at the end of the Cavaliers 104-95 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night. As Atlanta advanced the ball up the court during the waning seconds, James slowly walked toward the locker room instead of getting back on defense. Some reports stated that James left the court but, for what it's worth, James maintains that he never actually left the court until time ran out; on the film that I have seen it is not clear if this is the case or not. Steve Kerr said, "It's not a big deal" but added "the spotlight is always going to be on Lebron...it would be wise to not do it again." Charles Barkley, never one to mince words, declared, "I love LeBron but he was wrong" but also suggested that the situation has been "overmagnified," comparing it to all of the attention that has been focused on Terrell Owens' dropped passes (a subject I have touched on in the comments section to my Kobe Bryant Unplugged post). Kenny Smith said that the real issue is that the Cavaliers lost at home to a Hawks team that is not supposed to be very good. Some have said that James' actions indicated that he quit on his team but Smith felt that what James did was actually more disrespectful toward the Hawks--in essence, James was indicating that he could not believe that his team lost to Atlanta.
I think that what James did was wrong--whether or not your team has a realistic chance to win, you shouldn't just walk off of the court. Of course, the situation has indeed been "overmagnified" due to James' status. In the overall scheme of things this is not a big deal and I'm sure that James will not do this again.
On a related subject, I agree with Woody Paige, who hates the way that NFL teams walk off of the field when there is still time remaining on the clock; I've always thought that this looked sloppy. Is it really that difficult to wait 10 or 15 more seconds until the final gun goes off?
One more thing: in the past couple days there have been some overheated comparisons of James and Randy Moss. Moss once left the field instead of sticking around to join the "hands" team to attempt to recover an onside kick. James was wrong to do what he did but he did not compromise his team's chances to win the game; if Moss had recovered the onside kick his team could very well have won the game. Moss has also admitted that he only plays hard when he wants to and does not run his routes aggressively if he is not the primary receiver on the play. I see no validity in comparing James to Moss.
posted by David Friedman @ 12:50 AM