Each game is made up of elements that help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the previous night's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what led to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: CLEVELAND DID WHAT?The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Lakers 104-99. That's not a joke lede. That's real.
Remember the last time these two teams played? The Lakers won by a measly 55 points. Less than a week ago, the Cavs had just lost their 26th straight game, an NBA record.
And in come the Lakers to Quicken Loans Arena as the defending champions to play the lowly, nine-win Cavs. If you say you saw this coming, you're probably also telling me you totally saw Esperanza Spalding beating out Justin Bieber.
How in the world did this happen? Basically, two things: 1) The Lakers were in a coma for the first 47 minutes and 2) the Cavs played with some serious fight.
First, let's look at the Laker situation seeing as people in purple and gold are probably questioning their existence right now. Los Angeles followed up its stinker in Charlotte by dropping a game to the Cavs. That's reason to be upset for sure. Reason to panic? Not really. It was the game before the All-Star break and right in the middle of a big seven-game road trip.
Kobe Bryant went just 8-22 from the field and had seven turnovers. Ron Artest scored a single point. Andrew Bynum was 2-12 for six points. Lamar Odom had only six points. Pau Gasol was solid with 30 points, but other than that the only reason L.A. was even close was because of Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown. Think about that. Shannon Brown and Derek Fisher kept the Lakers in it.
It's been a season of freak outs for the Lakers. They lost three straight. They lost on Christmas. And now they've dropped a game to the lowly Cavaliers. Up and down, the NBA season is.
On the other hand, you've got to give credit to the Cavs, no matter how poorly the Lakers played. Remember, the Lakers beat the Cavs by 55 last time. But from the start, the Cavs were playing with a point to prove. Ramon Sessions was terrific with 32 points and eight assists (how about that, Atlanta?). Antwan Jamison had 19. Anthony Parker, 18.
Seriously, what a moment for the Cavs in a season full of disaster. For one night, they had back that old feeling.
See, who really needs LeBron James when you have Ramon Sessions?
SO WHAT DID LEBRON SAY ABOUT IT?Of course for some reason we all wanted to know what LeBron would say about the Cavs big win. LeBron, following his team's win over Toronto said, "Good for the Cavs."
BOSH RETURNSIt didn't have near the hype that LeBron's return to Cleveland had, but Chris Bosh returned to Toronto for the first time since leaving in free agency to Miami.
Fitting too, because Bosh went from the focus for the Raptors to the oft-forgotten third wheel for the Heat. Something he's fine with, but definitely a change.
And like LeBron, Bosh heard boos, saw signs and took some hate. But also like LeBron, he showed up big and his team walked to an easy win, beating the lowly Raps 103-95. Bosh had 25 points on 7-16 shooting and while he wasn't terrific like LeBron in Cleveland, he was solid in his role and his team won.
After the game, Bosh blew some kisses to the crowd as he left the floor. The was a splattering of cheers, but mostly boos. Bosh said of the booing, "I hope they do it the next time I come back."
DON'T TALK ABOUT AMAR'EReferring to Amar'e Stoudemire, Al Horford told reporters before his Hawks took on the Knicks, "Like we're supposed to be scared of him. Ain't nobody scared of him." (via Alan Hahn )
What happened next? Stoudemire led all scorers with 23 points and the Knicks beat Atlanta 102-90. New York has a bit of momentum heading into the break with back-to-back wins, this one over the Hawks who they're chasing in the Eastern standings.
GO-GO-GADGET LINESPau Gasol: 30 points and 20 rebounds, but oh yeah, his team lost to the Cavs.
Andrea Bargnani: 38 points on 15-26 shooting in a loss to the Heat.
Dwight Howard: 32 points and 10 rebounds in a blowout win over the Wizards.
Ramon Sessions: 32 points and eight assists for the Cavs.
Kevin Love: Another ho-hum night with 18 points and 18 rebounds in a loss to the Clippers.