Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Hugs all around

Everywhere you looked there were hugs at Gund Arena Monday night in the Cavaliers 99-88 victory over the Warriors. Drew Gooden was hugging Zyrdunas Ilgauskas, Robert Traylor was hugging Jeff McInnis and Paul Silas was going around the locker room wrapping people up.

I was taught in kindergarten that there's good hugs and bad hugs. There were some of both this night. Some hot-blooded emotions at the end of the game, which may or may not have been picked up on FSN Ohio's telecast, put a little bit of a damper on the Cavaliers' first over .500 experience since 2001.

With the Cavaliers struggling to take control of the game late, Gooden and McInnis got on a different page during a play and the possession got all messed up. McInnis screamed at Gooden right in front of the bench - and the media members sitting three feet away. Gooden gave him the deer in the headlights look he would give Silas when he'd get benched the first week of the season. The two didn't make much eye contact for the rest of the game.

This is the best and worst of McInnis. He had 20 points, a season-high, in the win and showed great leadership in getting big baskets. But he just has a tendency to whack out sometimes and get under his teammates' skin. He was right, it was Gooden's mistake and it happened at a costly time, but his reaction caused a rift at a time when the team needed to come together. But last Saturday he was like a conductor in brilliantly dishing out 11 assists in the win over Washington.

McInnis has a ton of talent and he's playing the best basketball of his career. His arrival last season started the Cavaliers on the right path. I think he's got a great personality and is a proud man. He's also one of the best actors in the NBA, often getting calls by flailing and screaming. But well all have our little flaws, and his is keeping his composure. And that's is vital for a point guard.

After the game Silas came to the locker room after the players showered - something I don't remember seeing him do before - and grabbed Gooden and McInnis and gave them hugs. Winning can solve lots of things. But if the Cavaliers are going to keep winning, they need McInnis to show all his good sides, not is few bad ones.

On another note, LeBron James' behind-the-back, reverse between the legs dribble (does that even make sense?) and subsequent jumper over Ansu Sesay in the second quarter was one of the most amazing things I've seen him do in his career. Last season there was a drive and dunk over Atlanta's Boris Diaw that was amazing. But nothing overcomes a dunk he had in practice last season when he came from the right wing and jumped over Kevin Ollie's head. There was a television crew there and as soon as the dunk was over - at it was determined James was OK after literally tripping over Ollie's head - they wanted to know if it was on tape. Alas, they were not rolling.

That's all for now. You know the drill, questions and comments to bwindhorst@thebeaconjournal.com.

Take care all,