Photo: Joshua Gunter/The Plain Dealer
Dwight Howard's been handed a lot of notoriety in a short amount of time in the league. Most of it has been deserved, yet some people aren't too fond of that. Tonight, Shaquille O'Neal, the original Superman, didn't take too kindly to being double teamed, and he made his feelings known after the game. The Cavaliers used their wide-open power forwards to their advantage, and LeBron James delivered a star closing performance to place the Cavaliers truly in the driver's seat for homecourt in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers now hold a 7 game lead on the Magic with 28 games to play heading into the break. This game might very well have answered who the real M.V.P. is and who the best team in the East is, but the question will remain... Who is the REAL Superman?
Delonte Back: Rejoice, fellow KFC customers! Delonte West returned to the Cavaliers tonight after missing nine games with a broken finger on his left hand. West didn't enter the game until LeBron took his first break midway through the second quarter, and it was apparent that he was feeling his way back into things slowly, but he adjusted by the fourth quarter and hit one of the most key shots of the game. It's great to see the "hot sauce" finally back in the Cavaliers' "bag". Planes, trains, automobiles, I don't care... we've gotta have our backup POINT GUARD! Delonte finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists in 23 minutes.
Let J.J. roam?: The Orlando Magic made an obvious adjustment in their defense of the Cavaliers. The main goal was to double team Shaquille O'Neal in the post, allowing J.J. Hickson to largely roam free. To his credit, J.J. responded with a monstrous 13 point scoring spurt in the first quarter, doing what he always does: finding the open gaps in the defense and slamming with authority. Master of Panic Stan Van Gundy commented in an interview after the first quarter, "We're not worried about J.J. Hickson!" Really, Stan? Well, maybe you should have been at least mildly concerned, because the Cavaliers remain undefeated this season when Hickson scores 7 or more points, and he dropped 20 on you with relative ease. Not only that, but Anderson Varejao did his best J.J. impersonation in the second quarter, contributing 14 points in the quarter largely on the same type of plays. That's right, Van Gundy, the Cavalier power forwards you neglected to cover dropped a whopping 36 points on 17-of-25 shooting in 43 minutes together. Maybe you'll worry about him at least a little bit next time... if he is still on the team, that is.