Finally, Answers at the Q
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NOT MILWAUKEE, March 14, 2007 -- Well, well, well, if it isn't LeBron James. And Larry Hughes! Welcome to the 2006-07 season, gentlemen. What took you so long? And, as long as we're mining for mea culpas on our site, Mr. Danny Ferry, my bad.

LeBron is once again the LeBron we've all come to know and (some even) love, Larry Hughes has become a point guard and Ferry looks to have made the right trade deadline move by not making a move at all.

Yes, the Cavs have won six straight games and have charged within a mere two games of the Central Division-leading Pistons. They even won No. 6 without LeBron on Tuesday night, clobbering the Kings by 24.

How has this happened? For one thing, the King is the King again. Just check out these scoring digits since Feb. 15, when he dropped 38 on the Lakers: 38, 29, 29, 29, 35, 39, 36, 32, 41, 32, 26. That's 10 consecutive games of at least 29 points. It was good enough for LeBron to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. The Cavs went 8-3 in that span. He's been playing with passion as of late.

That's what Cavs fans, and frankly, NBA fans, have been waiting for all season. Right now, only his own body, in this case back spasms, can stop LeBron.

(And now, for a CI aside: Speaking of stopping LeBron. Have you ever noticed when LeBron makes up his mind to go to the rack, no one can stop him? No one.

If you're watching a Cavs game and you get a low-angle, under-the-hoop replay, check out how LBJ returns to his football roots when he attacks the rim. He tucks the ball under his right forearm and against his stomach. You can't knock the ball free, and with LeBron at a full head of steam, a defender would either be a fool or crazy to try to take a charge.

LeBron can pretty much do this whenever he wants. I'm convinced if he shot 90 percent from the line, he'd average 37-40 points per game. Guaranteed.)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled column.

Remember how we said the Cavs needed Larry Hughes to be a reliable second option, but that the Cavs still needed a point guard? Um, who knew Hughes could be the man for both jobs?

Hughes took over the point guard role when rookie Daniel Gibson hit the trainer's table with a left great (i.e. big) toe sprain.'s own Joe Gabriele and a Friend of Central Intelligence (FOCI) lends some insight as to why Hughes has thrived running the Cavs:

"Hughes is shooting for a higher percentage, is making better decisions with the ball and looks more comfortable overall on the floor. But perhaps one of the biggest pluses of having Hughes run the point is his knowledge of how to get the Cavaliers’ big men involved early – and keep them involved throughout the game.

“'If I can see their chest, I want to give them the ball,'” said Hughes, referring to his 'bigs' – Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao. 'That means they have guys on their back. You reward the bigs and they’ll play hard for you throughout the game. You have to understand that and you have to sacrifice a little bit. You want to get those guys involved early.'”

Makes it sound simple, doesn't he? Reminds me of one of Oscar Robertson's quotes. Oscar, how did you compile so many assists throughout your career?

"I passed to the open man."

See, simple. Anyway, the Cavs have been making it look easy lately. That should have the rest of the East feeling queasy.


I'd like to call out something that went unnoticed in last Saturday's Bucks-Cavs game. That game may have been the greatest hair game since the ABA-NBA merger.

Just look:


Wow, impressive no?

Bogut has the shag working, and occasionally wearing the Mike Miller hair band to keep it out of his eyes. Then there's Anderson Varejao, whom Cavs fans call "Wild Thing". I prefer Sideshow, as in Sideshow Bob (sans the kitchen knife and desire to kill Bart Simpson). I've often wondered if Verajao sounds like Kesley Grammer who speaks Portuguese.

Moving down the line, we have Brian Skinner, who's bald but has about four-inches of beard hanging from his chin. He reminds me a little of Zoltar from the movie Big. Maybe he could drop a quarter into his own mouth and wish for a Bucks win.

Then there's Drew Gooden's neck soul patch, which I don't think anyone has ever seen, at least not in the NBA. And for good reason. It looks like Charlie Chaplin's mustache has migrated to the back of Gooden's neck.

And, finally, Scot Pollard. Mr. Mohawk didn't get any burn on Saturday night, except for maybe razor burn, but I am contractually obligated to mention Pollard whenever we do a segment on NBA hair.

THE BUCKS ARE NO. 1 (or How Andrew Bogut Learned to Stop Worrying and Express Himself)

Says who?

Says him, Marc Stein of Stein, in a Weekend Dime edition crowned the Bucks the kings of pain this season.

"Yet you could easily argue (and we do) that Milwaukee has had the worst of it, with Bobby Simmons unavailable from the season's opening tip because of myriad foot problems, and three mainstays -- Charlie Villanueva (elbow and shoulder), Mo Williams (shoulder) and most of all our beloved Michael Redd (knee) -- all sidelined for long stretches."

Yay! Oh, wait. Booo! Actually, I don't know how to react.


Remember that hugely important five-game road trip Detroit embarked at the end of last week? Well, it's turned out well so far for Detroit as they have reeled off three straight wins.

The Pistons have the Blazers tonight, the Suns on Friday (can't wait for that) and on their return home, a potential Finals preview as the Mavs await on Sunday (I really can't wait for that).

As we noted above, the Pistons need to maintain their lead on the Cavs for the best record in the East.


With the (re-)emergence of the Cavs, I'm giving myself another week to gather entreaties from Pacers fans.

So, yes, I'm still looking for a Pacers friend like the Pacers are looking for a win. Yikes, 10 consecutive losses. That hasn't happened for the Pacers since they dropped 12 in a row in the middle of the 1988-89 season.

First, I've found that there are Pacers fans sprinkled all over the world. This, I had no idea. I thought they may be concentrated around the greater Indianapolis area. Serves me right for my provinciality.

Second, I had one person ask if I was making fun of the Pacers. To which I say, no way. This is legit. I don't make fun of teams (unless I'm really angry at the Bulls). Like I noted, I'm looking for my first Pacers friend to be our fifth on the Central Intelligence squad.

Third, I've had more than a couple intriguing inquiries, like the gentleman who pointed me to a Pacers message board, where last week's column was cut and pasted. You know how many responses it received. Zero. Sorry, Charlie. I'd join your board, but I don't know if I'm honored that you posted or hurt that it was ignored. I'm conflicted.

I also received an e-mail from Northwestern student (full disclosure, I received my masters in journalism from Northwestern in '95), who was a front-runner. He had seven reasons (in honor of Jermaine O'Neal's jersey number) as to why I should choose him. He was going so well until he went a little too far with reason No. 7. While it was damn funny, we, unfortunately, don't do edgy here at the .com. As a matter of fact, saying we don't do edgy is probably the edgiest thing ever printed here. We're so meta.

Anyway, the mailbox is open (still). We'll be taking more e-mail and we'll announce CI's official Pacers friend.

Thoughts? Complaints? E-mail us. Also, you can listen to Rob Peterson on NBA Radio, Sirius 127 every Monday at 7:30 a.m. ET, and every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET.