When we signed Larry Hughes back in ’05, this was the kind of performance we hoped to see.
This one was over before it started. Actually, it wasn’t over until the Cavs’ trio of LeBron James, Larry Hughes and Andy Varejao took the court with 6 minutes to go in the first quarter. Then the rout was on. The Cavs slashed, dished and shot their way to a 118-105 victory, that really wasn’t that close. Larry Hughes led the way with 36 points on 13 of 17 shooting, including 5 of 8 from deep. He played only 26 minutes, but was very effective in his time on the floor. Hughes was free to roam the court playing a true shooting guard in his minutes tonight. According to coach Mike Brown, that is the role Hughes will play from now on. In fact, Brown said he intends to bring Hughes off the bench. Certainly he has the ability to energize the team and provide a boost coming off the bench. Now, let’s not get crazy and think that he will shoot 76% and score 30+ every night, but if he can provide that 15-20 point lift, especially when LeBron is resting this team is dangerous.
According to Brown’s strategy the Cavs would start with LeBron, Gooden, Z, Pavlovic and Gibson or Snow. Varejao and Hughes would then provide the energy coming from the first substitution. I like that plan.
LeBron looked good in his first game back from injury. It was nice that he didn’t have to be superman tonight. He was able to ease back into the flow. He ended with 17 points and 5 assists. There were two plays that made everyone think he was ready to come back. The first was a nice cross-over, spinning lay-up. The second was an oop from Hughes.
Varejao looked eager to get back into the game and contribute his unique skill-set. He did just that. I was curious to see what kind of reaction the crowd would give him, but Mike Brown denied us all that opportunity by bringing Varejao in at the same time as LeBron. Andy grabbed 9 rebounds in 24 minutes, but perhaps more importantly his presence allowed Gooden and Z an opportunity to rest. Both Drew and Z finished under 30 minutes played.
Shannon Brown started the game and I still think might be auditioning for a potential trade partner. But with the way the team played tonight, maybe Danny Ferry can sit on his cell phone.