King James Returns To Lift Cavs To Much Needed Victory
This team is getting close to being healthy. Last night marked the return of LeBron James (from injury) and Anderson Varejao (from foolishness), and saw the continued inspired play from Larry Hughes (I can’t believe I just said that). The newly uplifted team responded in a big way, beating the Indiana Pacers 118-105. Larry Hughes was simply outstanding, scoring 36 points on 13 of 17 shooting. LeBron came off the bench for the first time in his life, and added 17 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds. Anderson Varejao, while looking winded at times, played almost 24 minutes and provided 6 points and 9 boards. It was good to see AV back on the court, and his energy and rebounding were back and definitely made an impact on the game. The only thing missing from the festive evening of basketball was Boobie Gibson, who was out after having a wisdom tooth pulled.
One of the more interesting side stories to this game was LeBron James coming off the bench. LeBron asked to come off the bench, that much is certain. There are varying stories about the motives behind the “benching”. LeBron claims he did it to shield AV from the boo’s that he assumed the crowd would rain down on AV. He said he wanted to protect his teammate and be a good leader. If that’s true, it’s just one more example of what an amazing person and leader LeBron truly is. He continues to develop both on and off the court, and it’s an unbelievable priviledge to watch night in and night out.
However, Brian Windhorst somewhat disputes this as being the true motive, writing,
“After the game, LeBron said he asked Mike Brown to come off the bench. He said he wanted to come in with Andy so he wouldn’t hear any boos. He said he wanted to “protect” his teammate. That is a nice story and explains why he didn’t start. Although it was funny to watch Brown dance around the issue with the media. When Bill Livingston of the Plain Dealer asked whether LeBron would start Friday in Jersey, Mike paused and said: “I’ve got to watch the film.” Priceless!
Anyway, it’s not 100 percent true. LeBron did ask to come off the bench but there was no discussion about bringing him in with Andy. But LeBron did pick up that ball and run with it and give great quotes about it.”
Well, whatever the reason was, I suppose it’s of little consequence. What matters is that this was a good first step in turning this season around. It’s hard to predict where this team will be at the end of the season, but if last night was any indication, the Cavaliers are going to at least be able to put up a fight in defending their Eastern Conference title.
My favorite part of the night, though, was listening to LeBron’s post game interview. Say what you will, but this guy’s a gem. Check out some of these quotes:
“It felt like we were in a good groove. Everyone knows each other. We know what we like and dislike, so it felt like it did last year when we were playing our best basketball.”
“Mentally [Larry Hughes] is going out there and playing the game of basketball. He is a natural two guard and what he does best is come off screens and go off the dribble and make shots. He has been in the zone the last two games and we need that from him. We don’t expect him to go out and score 30-plus points every night, but we expect him to go out and score points for us and lead the way he played tonight.”
“Last time I didn’t start would be never. It felt different, but I had no problem with it. I asked Coach to come off the bench. I thought it would raise the intensity of the fans having Larry (Hughes), Andy (Varejao), and me come in at the same time and it worked.”
“It was good. We lost Boobie (Daniel Gibson), but he is not going to be out long. He had a bad tooth that needed to be taken care of. But, it is a good feeling. You go through a stretch where you are losing games and people look at us like we are not a good team. But, we know once we get all of our guys back it is a totally different story like I said last week. We are back now, so we will see what happens.”
Good to have ya back, LeBron.