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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cavs vs. Lakers, Game 31

CAVS (23-8) 102, LOS ANGELES LAKERS (23-5) 87
at Staples Center
TV: WEWS (Channel 5)

WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs have won 6 of their last 8 meetings against the Lakers. But very few have been this impressive.

They led from wire-to-wire and extended their lead to 20 points in the second quarter.

The Cavs' bigs of Shaquille O'Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao dominated the Lakers' big men Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom.

Don't laugh. Varejao has been playing almost on an All-Star level in the last couple weeks. One can see why the Cavs' paid him that big contract last summer. He's so important to their team.

O'Neal had five dunks on the night. He was up for the matchup against his old team.

Cavs forward LeBron James also took on the challenge of Lakers forward Ron Artest. He's the only player I've ever seen intimidate James on the court. That occurred during James' rookie year. Artest is every bit as big and strong as James and really bodies him up.

In many ways, he defends him as well as any player in the NBA.

James ended with 26 points, nine assists and four rebounds. He shot 9 of 19 from the field and turned the ball over seven times.

Cavs guard Mo Williams was really good in the game with 28 points and seven assists. He made 8 of 13 from the field and 3 of 3 from behind the arc.

He's a tough little guy, too. He bruised his knee in the Sacramento game on Wednesday and was still a bit sore. Then during Friday's game, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant slammed into him from behind and knocked him to the court. He remained in the game, however.

NOTES: The Cavs and Lakers are two of the top defensive teams in the league. The Cavs allow an NBA-low 34.9 points in the paint. They haven’t allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent or higher in the last 21 games, the NBA’s longest active streak.

-- James recorded his second triple-double of the season against Sacramento on Wednesday with 34 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. It was his 26th career triple-double and 15th on the road. Of the 12 other NBA players with at least 25 triple-doubles, the only other player with more on the road than at home is Larry Bird (24 at home, 35 on the road). It was James’ second career game of at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists and since 1986-87, only Charles Barkley and Larry Bird have had two games with at least those totals. In the NBA, this game was also the first game a player achieved at least those totals since Vince Carter tallied 46 points,
16 rebounds and 10 assists with the Nets against Washington on Apr. 7, 2007.

-- Two of the top scoring duos were on the court in Friday’s game. Bryant and Gasol are ranked second in the league in scoring as a tandem at 46.3 points per game. James and Williams is third at 45.7 points per game.

-- Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored a season-high 25 points, including three 3-pointers, in the Sacramento game on Wednesday. Ilgauskas became the first player to make three 3-pointers in overtime since Walter Herrmann on Apr. 8, 2007. He’s the first Cavs player since James to do it (Jan. 24, 2007, vs. Philadelphia).

SF LeBron James vs. Ron Artest
PF J.J. Hickson vs. Pau Gasol
C Shaquille O'Neal vs. Andrew Bynum
SG Anthony Parker vs. Kobe Bryant
PG Mo Williams vs. Derek Fisher
Cavs - G Mo Williams (bruised knee) will play; F Leon Powe (knee surgery) is out.
Lakers - G Kobe Bryant (avulsion fracture, right index finger) will play; F Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is out.
Dan Crawford, Sean Corbin, Kevin Fehr


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