LeBron:Phase 2 has now taken off in Cleveland.
James scored 36 points as the Cavaliers defeated Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, 114-108, in overtime. Rose, for his part, scored 20 points to help into the fourth quarter when he suffered a right sprained ankle. He sat out the rest of the game.
In his second game back since returning from Miami, spending the last four years winning two NBA titles with the Heat, LeBron is now preparing the city of Cleveland for it’s turn at the title, perhaps. It’s only the second game, but their effort does lend itself towards that goal.
The Cavs had to fight back to get the game to overtime. Cleveland had led by points going into the fourth quarter, but had to rally from five points down just to get to the extra period.
James then commanded the second period. He used a wild spinning scoop shot to help the Cavs score the first eight points in overtime to seize control.
Perhaps the player of the game was Tristan Thompson. Thompson scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, 12 of them offensive, which is a Cavs team record.
After the game, Thompson was reticent to answer questions from the sports reporters until LeBron spoke to the rookie from Toronto.
“You gotta talk now, just put a towel over your shoulders.”
“You deserve it,” James said.
So, Thompson covered his bare upper torso with a towel and answered a few questions. He told of how he got so many offensive rebounds (“just being active,” “see ball, get ball”). Thompson best get used to the interviews if he keeps playing like this; he’ll be a popular guy.
The Cavs are setting themselves up to be not only one of the teams favored to win the NBA Championship this year but an entertaining team to see, as well.
The Cavs have surrounded James with a strong supporting cast. Kylie Irving returns for his fourth NBA season and is hungry to get to the playoffs for the first time. The Cavs just signed 11-year utilityman Anderson Varejao to a two-year contract for over $20 million, with an option for a third year for $11 million.
The Cavs also put a trade package together which included this year’s first round pick, Andrew Wiggins, to acquire Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Guiding the new Cavaliers is first-time NBA coach David Blatt. Blatt has numerous years of coaching in Europe but has never held any NBA coaching positions. Lots of excitement in Cleveland, indeed.
True, it’s only the second game of the long NBA season, but the excitement is building.