Yes, it was a loss that pushes us further down the standings. But it was a game many of us will long remember.
So let's start with the player of the game, Marcus Thornton. 37 points on 22 shots. I know it took much of the NBA by surprise, but honestly, how many of us didn't expect this to happen sooner or later? We knew he could finish with either hand, we knew he could drive past most players with ease, we knew he excels at coming off screens, and we knew he could shoot. A lot of things we already knew about simply came together in one, ridiculous quarter.
After Julian Wright scored the opening field goal of the second quarter, Thornton proceeded to score the Hornets' next 16 points. Among other things, he hit jumpers off curls, driving layups, and floaters. The Cavaliers simply had no answer for him. In the third quarter, the Cavs' commentators made a huge deal about how LeBron was about to switch onto MT, and how LBJ likes the challenge of guarding good players. The switch is made, Thornton immediately burns him for 5 points on back to back possessions. Mysteriously, James switches off Thornton a few minutes later (of course, this goes completely unnoticed by the commentators). Sure, Thornton didn't score for the last seven minutes, but in his defense, (a) Collison took over a large part of the offense at that point, meaning (b) Thornton attempted just one shot the rest of the game, and (c) Thornton already had 37 points in 24 minutes (!!!) till that point. So it's a largely pointless criticism.
On to the bullets:
- I didn't notice LeBron was on the floor until 8:50 in the 1st quarter. All in all, that's incredible. In fact, at the 6 minute mark, he'd touched the ball just two times. He didn't attempt a field goal till 4:00. Of course, at that point he proceeded to score twice in under 20 seconds.
- I normally find the Cavs' color guy over the top (this should serve as ample evidence). But I enjoyed him appointing Chris Paul "the baddest point guard in the league."
- Okafor played an entirely anonymous game. 4 points on 5 shots in 30 minutes? His 8 rebounds didn't help offset David West's nightly pathetic rebounding efforts.
- Peja Stojakovic continued his recent string of very good on-court activity, but it didn't translate into production tonight. His nine misses in 12 tries really sealed the deal towards the end of the game.
- Ultimately, it was a close game. The Cavs barely outshot the Hornets from the floor, but the eventual deciders were a slight turnover edge for Cleveland and equally slight leads in rebounding and getting to the line. Essentially, the Cavs outplayed the Hornets in all four major factors by very marginal amounts.