Basketball Diaries - December 3, 2010
It’s Friday evening, almost an entire day after the biggest regular season game in Cavaliers history has come and gone. And right now, as we make our way through an absolute blizzard towards the hotel in Minneapolis, the squad’s thoughts have turned to the Timberwolves.
That doesn’t mean that Friday’s practice didn’t have some reside from Thursday night’s thumping at the hands of LeBron James and the Heat.
The prevailing thought was that the crowd at The Q was absolutely phenomenal. (It was – topping playoff and even Finals games in intensity and volume.) Cleveland should be proud.
A few people misbehaved, but I’m ready to put the fans who doused the cat in the Miami Heat jersey with multiple beers in that category. If you wear a Heat jersey to that game – just like wearing Steelers gear to a Browns game – you’re begging for that type of attention. Clevelanders, a generally courteous people, are happy to oblige.
But no amount of ugliness in the stands could have matched the destruction that took place on the court. LeBron James homecoming couldn’t have gone better – for him. He scored 38 points in 30 minutes against his former club, 24 in the third quarter. After many of those hoops, he paused to pop his jersey or bark at the Cavaliers bench.
“We knew if they got it going and they were winning, he was going to do some yapping,” said Antawn Jamison. “There’s nothing we can do about it. It was an old-fashioned a**-whupping they told us about it. It should make us angry to the point that we learn from it.
“We’ve been embarrassed and we should never want to have this feeling again.”
I heard from several fans on Friday morning that they were unhappy with the camaraderie between the Cavaliers and James. It’s understandable, but probably not as friendly as it looked on the surface. Daniel Gibson, who tangled with Eddie House on the court and – if both players had their way in the – tunnel afterward, took umbrage with that assumption.
“I’ve heard that, and that kind of rubs me the wrong way because us players were sitting on there and (LeBron) came down there and initiated the conversation,” explained Boobie. “But to say that we were fraternizing – no one knows what was said and the things that were said. They probably couldn’t be repeated, the back-and-forth conversation that we had, but that’s neither here nor there.
Gibson at least backed up his anger on the floor, netting 21 points – including nine in the fourth quarter when he could have folded. He’s been arguably the Wine and Gold’s MVP this season and one of the few Cavaliers to step up and seize this season’s opportunity.
He was (almost) as emotional on Friday as a dejected Mo Williams was in the Cavaliers locker room Thursday night.
“I really wish it wouldn’t have happened that way, because the way the fans came out and the way they were supporting us,” lamented Gibson. “The feeling, the vibe (at The Q) was crazy, and I just wish we would have given them a better showing last night. That’s the main reason I didn’t get any sleep last night was because they deserved a lot better of a showing.”
Byron Scott even took some heat from the critics for not being more demonstrative following Thursday’s blowout. But he has good reasons.
One, he really does a young team, and to bury them for losing to a budding powerhouse like Miami might damage their confidence worse than it already is. Secondly – and for this should be commended and not criticized – he wasn’t about to kill his guys in front of dozens of media members whose only trip to Cleveland was Thursday. The Cavaliers have some issues to work through, and it’s doubtful Coach Scott would care to air those with the national media.
“I think the guys have beaten themselves up enough; I don’t think I need to jump on the wagon and beat them up even more,” said Scott following Friday’s practice. “I have a lot of faith in those guys. I have a lot of faith in what we’re doing. We know we’re going to get better as a basketball team. It just happened to be on a night where we played one of our worst games against a great team that played probably their best game.
“So I’m not going to pile on them. I know that they know in their hearts that they can play a lot better than what we played.”
As bad as things seem for the Cavaliers right now, it’s very early in the season and they can begin to set things straight before they return to face the Bulls on Wednesday. In the next four days, Cleveland plays three last-place teams – none with a winning record at home.
The NBA schedule can be cruel to be kind. And there’s part of the Cavaliers caravan that’s glad to be trudging along these snow-covered streets of Minnesota. The Cavaliers play seven of their next eight on the road, including a Dec. 15 rematch with LeBron and the Heat and an opportunity to return the favor.
Yesterday’s answer: Chris Jent was a member of the 1994 Houston Rockets Championship team.
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.