There’s no real way to “spin” what the Cavaliers did on the West Coast. The wins (0) and losses (5) say it all.
Almost all. Just to get the rest of the ugly numbers out of the way, the Cavaliers lost their final three games by an average of 26.2 points per contest – an even 35.0 over the final three. They shot under 40 percent for the trip, including 27 percent from beyond the arc. Cleveland averaged 16.4 turnovers over the trip and allowed the last three opponents to shoot a combined .528 from the floor.
Almost everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong out West. The mini-earthquake in Oakland the afternoon before the Golden State game should have been a sign.
But despite the dire stats and tough results, there were some bright spots and interesting moments west of the Mississippi over the past ten days, including …
Manny Harris averaged 14.6 points and 7.6 boards over the five-gamer. With Anthony Parker out for the West Coast trip, Manny grabbed his opportunity. Harris played under control against some of the Western Conference’s best – including Kobe Bryant – committing just two turnovers per contest.
Extended minutes in the spotlight and his first long rookie road trip wore Harris down later in the junket, but he’s smart and tough and proved he can play at this level.
Carmelo Anthony jerseys were 50 percent off at the team shop. The Nuggets are in a precarious position, and to make matters even tougher, they’re playing their best ball of the season. George Karl talked about trying to figure out “the new philosophy among players and agents.” It doesn’t look like a break-up that’ll end well.
Watched the National Championship at L.A.’s famous Barney’s Beanery, then met Brian Windhorst and Mary Schmitt-Boyer there for lunch two days later. The Beanery has every type of bar food – including breakfast – imaginable. Their menu is thicker than most of the magazines I worked for after college.
Christian Eyenga hasn’t put up big numbers. He’s barely put up any. But just a glimpse of his athletic prowess should have Cavs fans excited to see him when he returns later this week. Both of his blocked shots against Golden State were fantastic. He swatted a couple more in Phoenix before injuring his ankle. It’ll take Christian a little while to develop the whole package, but he’s already an elite athlete.
Austin Carr spoke of wanting to see how he reacts to taking a hit. A.C. said that soon he’ll get a reputation as a leaper and someone will try to challenge him. How he reacts to the challenge will say a lot about him, according to Mr. Cavalier.
The Cavaliers are home for two, travel for three, welcome Denver for one and have a back-to-back against Orlando and Miami to wrap up January. After this month, Cleveland has just 13 road games remaining.
Antawn Jamison continues to be a pro’s pro. The former Tar Heel averaged 18.6 ppg on the trip – (21.7 ppg if you take away the game in Los Angeles). Jamison performs every night, despite undergoing a difficult season in the win column.
If you’ve never been to Beverly Hills, it’s one of the few places that’s exactly how you imagine it. Same with the UCLA campus – which is incredible.
Coach Bryon Scott was forced to go with four different starting lineups on a five-game trip.
Mo Williams had an up-and-down trip, statistically, but proved his toughness by playing through some nagging injuries. If the Cavaliers were at full strength and he could have rested, he would have. The recurring hip injury finally shut him down in Denver.
With Mo hurting, Ramon Sessions quietly closed the trip in style – averaging 18.0 points on 56 percent shooting over the last two games. Sessions led everyone with nine assists against Denver.
I hate to name-drop – ( but I’m going to because I didn’t get within ten feet of these people) – but with the Golden Globes taking place on Sunday night, seen at or around our hotel was Ricky Gervais, Cameron Diaz, Suge Knight, Robert Duvall, Chloe Sevigny and Craig Robinson – known to some as “Darryl Philbin” on The Office but known to me as “Reggie Mackworthy” from the great Eastbound and Down.
Boobie Gibson should return to action by Wednesday night. Christian Eyenga may or may not be ready by then. Eyenga didn’t wrap his ankles previous to this trip. He will in the future.
Like the rest of the Cavaliers against L.A., Samardo Samuels had a rough outing – going 1-for-12 from the floor. But the undersized Samuels wasn’t overmatched in any other game. Excluding the Laker game – (and we all wish we could do that) – Samuels shot 65 percent (11-17) on the trip.
It seems that J.J. Hickson is best suited to the center position. Like Samuels, Hickson is undersized and his defense needs work. He shot just 42 percent in three starts at the 5, but his rebounding numbers (13.3 rpg) were solid. In a microcosm of the trip, J.J. went 8-for-13 from the floor with 14 rebounds against Utah, but offset that with nine turnovers.
The Cavaliers played their most competitive game of the trip against the Suns this past Sunday night. And that’s the team they’ll welcome to Cleveland in their homecoming on Wednesday night. Will the Wine and Gold benefit from the home cookin’?
We’ll know by 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
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.