by Joe Gabriele
November 28 -- In last week’s “Mike Brown Show” – aired last Wednesday on WTAM and on-line – the Cavaliers rookie head coach said one of the greatest lessons he learned from Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was to not get too high after a win and not to get too low after a loss.
The Cavaliers went into the holiday weekend awfully high – winners of eight straight and undefeated at The Q – and come back on Monday a little low – dropping a Thanksgiving matchup with the Pacers and Saturday’s home loss to the Wolves.
Simply put, it’s a long season and the Wine and Gold is still 9-4. And it’s tough to see many more two game stretches like Larry Hughes (6-for-24 from the floor), Donyell Marshall (3-19), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (4-13) just had. It’s like a baseball lineup that suddenly goes cold. It’s contagious.
“There will be nights like this,” said LeBron James following Saturday’s loss. “We gave ourselves an opportunity to win at the end, but when you shoot 31 percent against a good caliber team like that, most nights you are not going to win.”
James was immune to whatever’s going around on Saturday night. He hasn’t had to carry the load by himself many times this season, but that was unfortunately the case this weekend. The Eastern Conference’s reigning Player of the Week – and the star of two sweet new SportsCenter commercials – went off for a season-high 38 points on Saturday. The highlight of the 38 was a massive Julius Erving-esque one-armed dunk over Minnesota’s Eddie Griffin.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, not much got past Eddie Griffin as the young forward blocked five Cavalier shots.
Griffin’s defense was stellar on Saturday, but for a lesson in Defense 101, look no further than Indy’s Ron Artest, who blanketed LeBron for 96 feet and 48 minutes on Thanksgiving. While his mates, Jermaine O’Neal and Scot Pollard were in foul trouble halfway through the first quarter, Artest guarded the game’s most explosive player and got his offense going at the same time.
“I keep telling our guys that there are going to be nights were we are going to get open looks and they are not going to go down,” said Mike Brown on Saturday. “When that happens we have to get stops, and tonight we didn’t get stops.”
The Cavaliers came back down to earth over the weekend, but they have plenty of time and a golden opportunity for redemption this Wednesday when they welcome the red-hot Clippers (yes, I said red-hot Clippers) to The Q on Wednesday night.
Wednesday’s game is big for three reasons. One, it lets the Cavaliers take another crack at a team that’s playing well. Two, it will allow them to get back on track on the home floor, where they’ve been so tough this season. And three, the Wine and Gold leave for three on the West Coast – including a weekend back-to-back with the Sonics and Clippers – right after the contest.
It’s a long season and a couple of losses are no reason to panic. But the Cavaliers need to find the mojo that helped them win eight straight. And they’ll need to transport it cross country by the end of the week.
-- Joe Gabriele
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