Photo: AP/Kathy Kmonicek
LeBron James was the centerpiece of this game, and he did not disappoint, but the most important thing is the Cavaliers stopped the bleeding after last night's disappointing home loss to the Bulls. They came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, James in particular, and never looked back despite some serious turnover issues in the second half.
Starting lineup shakeup: Wow, if you could have seen the look on my face when I saw the introductions tonight and J.J. Hickson came trotting out instead of Anderson Varejao. My first thought was, "Is Andy hurt? Sick? Missing? Kidnapped?" All of that was due to the fact that Hickson played the worst game of his career in three short minutes last night, and I wrote a few short hours ago that MB had most likely locked Hickson in the doghouse. Instead, Brown rewarded J.J. with the starting nod in what I'm terming "Ginobili-ing the bench". In other words, Mike Brown is trying to create a stronger bench by putting a proven bench performer like Varejao back in what was his niche for so many years. The result was mainly positive as Hickson looked a bit more comfortable being on the floor with LeBron rather than the bench bunch, and Varejao provided a high-energy performance off the pine. Hickson saw 13 minutes of action, shooting 3-of-4 from the field for 6 points. Andy posted a strong game with 35 minutes of action and 8 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Andy was asked after the game if he had a problem with coming off the bench and he said that he was fine with whatever is best for the team. Well, Andy, you might have to get used to it, because it is best for the team in a couple of ways. First, it reunites Andy and Z off the bench, who were so effective together during the 66-win season last year. Next, it pairs J.J. with LeBron, creating more open looks for J.J. to boost his confidence and ease the pressure on him. As long as it doesn't affect Andy's standard minutes (30-35), then I see no problem with this continuing if successful. It will be interesting to see if Mike Brown sticks with his postgame statement in keeping this current starting lineup for the near future against the likes of Orlando and Miami next week.