Photo: Jon Fobes/Cleveland.com
No one wanted to say it, but everyone was feeling it. The Cavaliers were clearly missing something in their first couple of games, but tonight the Cavaliers became whole again when they welcomed Delonte West back into the rotation. The impact was immediate, and the Cavaliers used a strong shooting night combined with a determined defensive effort to score the eleven point victory over an improved Charlotte Bobcats squad, that has still never won in Quicken Loans Arena.
Early success for the Diesel: Project "Feed O'Neal" continues and makes a few strides each game. In this contest, Shaq made 3-of-4 shots for a quick six points against the the favorable matchup on the skinnier Tyson Chandler. Although Shaq finished with just 8 points on 3-of-7 shooting, he had 5 rebounds, dished out 3 assists, and played solid interior defense. More importantly, he looked much more comfortable in the offensive flow, and while the mission to count on him as a reliable scoring option continues, the progress is slowly coming.
Hot Sauce in his Bag: The much-anticipated beginning to Delonte West's season came with 4:22 in the first quarter. West checked in for Anthony Parker, and he received a standing ovation from the Q faithful. West immediately brought perimeter defensive intensity and offensive movement and spacing. In his 24 minutes, Delonte provided a little bit of everything in his opening act: 5-of-7 shooting for 13 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and hard-nosed defense. He did most of his damage in the late third quarter through the late fourth quarter in a stretch of 11 minutes where he scored all 13 of his points and seemed to find his stroke, getting into that mode that Cavaliers fans fondly remember. When he's feeling it, Delonte becomes a second player on this team that can create his own offense consistently.