And then there is the defense that Hughes played on Jason Kidd. Kidd is a notorious bricklayer, and in New Jersey's three losses, Hughes has forced him to be just that. Last night's effort, however, was nothing less than atrocious, with Kidd scoring 20 on 8 of 14 shooting. In the Nets' two wins, Kidd has swished 16 of 26 shots. In three losses? Try a rim-rattling 10 of 33.
But there is plenty of blame to go around. Drew Gooden took the night off. His bizarre replacement, the beached whale that Donyell Marshall has become, is so fat that he apparently can't dunk anymore or even jump. He shot 0-7, missing many layups, and none of the shots were even close. LeBron decided to attack in earnest only in the fourth quarter. To be fair though, LeBron set up his running mate Hughes with one open jumper after the other. If Hughes had made just a couple more shots, kept the Nets just a bit more honest...
And you, Mike Brown, you're not getting off the hook. The Cavs lost by 11 in spite of giving up 6, that's SIX, points to New Jersey in the fourth quarter. Had they applied any defense in the third quarter as well, the series would be over. I said before this game started that the Cavs might benefit from an extra pass or two. Today, the Akron Beacon Journal's Terry Pluto echoed that sentiment in his column. Mike Brown's offense is now nonexistent. This is a team with too many gifted scorers to be notching 72 points in any game. Find a way to get open shots for Gibson, Gooden, Z and Pavlovic. These guys all can score in bunches. And where the hell is Damon Jones when you need some offense? Why not get him a look or two when the shots aren't falling?
Let's be serious though. This one is on Larry. Everyone, including Hughes himself, knows that he has to give his team more if they want to get into the next round.
N8's Random Notes:
Joe Tait celebrated his 70th birthday last night. He has been with the Cavs since the very beginning. He was watched more bad basketball in his life than anyone in the universe. As a reward, he got to call last night's debacle. Happy birthday Joe!
I think Lawrence Franks is a hell of a coach to get this crew into the playoffs, let alone the second round, because they really suck. Their "big three" is pretty much a myth, as far as I can see. Jason Kidd could carry a high school team into the postseason. Imagine him on the Cavs.
Eric Snow's hustle at the end of this game showed me a lot. His willingness to attack on offense was refreshing, even if the results weren't spectacular.