Offering a few answers after watching the Cleveland Cavaliers move into a tie for the Central Division lead with Detroit following a 95-91 win over the Toronto Raptors . . .
Little help! 'Bron could use it
How about Daniel Gibson? In place of the injured Larry Hughes, the second-round pick Gibson (18 points) looked good making his first pro start -- against his fellow Texas Longhorn, T.J. Ford, no less.
A good development for the Cavs. He's going to help them coming down the stretch if he continues to play and get better. Eric Snow is a great person to learn from as well.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (four points, six boards) had another tough outing. How important is he to the Cavaliers' season?
Very. It seems they need Z to have a bigger role for them to win in the playoffs. You have to have inside scoring. In a seven-game series, it's hard to rely on perimeter scoring to win.
Hughes was out for the tenth straight game with a high ankle sprain. If and when he's missing, who should be the No. 2 guy?
Right now, it's hard to see. You still have the 3-point threat with Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones, and I think Sasha Pavlovic can be an X-factor. No matter who it is, somebody has to be that guy you can trust after LeBron James.
Even the Knicks have Jamal Crawford and Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis, guys who could put up 30. With Cleveland, I'm not sure who can be a consistent threat to be that breakout guy who I can point to -- which is crucial when they get to a seven-game series.
LeBron does many things well. Right now, his free throw shooting (70 percent) could be better. Tips?
The only advice I have is something that's good for all free-throw shooters -- concentration, repetition and confidence. For me, I'd set a goal of making a certain amount in a row before I left practice. That helps your focus and concentration.
Most you made?
Whoa! Since you're helping all shooters here, how about some 3-point advice? LeBron's at about 36 percent this season.
Balance is big in the 3s -- some jump a lot when they shoot, some don't. Watch Damon Jones shoot and he's straight up as an arrow. Quietness of the body is important, though if you ever watched Reggie Miller shoot them, he could move and hit them. Nowadays, guys are so athletic, they're shooting fadeaways 3s. But I think balance and trying to come down in the same spot you jumped from are good things to remember.
And the one thing Cleveland can do to boost its hopes for playoff success?
Find a unit that fits Z and helps him get in his rhythm. With whatever time or roll he has, he has to have confidence -- not sure he has enough of that right now. Also find a unit that plays well without LeBron in the game. That way some guys have confidence and a rhythm that's not dependent on him.
ESPN analyst Allan Houston was a career 86.3 percent free-throw shooter in 12 NBA seasons.
• Talk back to The Daily Dime gang
Two brown-bagging fans in Boston suggest pink slips are in order for GM Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers. A loss to the Grizzlies at home was the latest Green indignity, dropping the C's to 5-12.
• Doc Rivers turned boos into cheers by going super small late in the game and going on a 14-0 run. What constitutes "super small?" How about Sebastian Telfair, Rajon Rondo, Delonte West and Gerald Green, with Paul Pierce as the only "big."
Naturally, all those good vibes evaporated when Memphis got a game-winning jump shot by Rudy Gay, whom the Celts could have drafted had they not traded their No. 7 pick an hour before the draft. Ouch.
• I'm still smiling 24 hours after watching Steve Nash's scintillating performance against Sacramento. Performances like that will improve his chance at garnering a third straight MVP trophy. Who's the last player to accomplish that? None other than No. 33 from the Boston Celtics, whose talent also transcended his physical limitations.
• T-Mac was the victim of the worst foul call I've seen this season -- an offensive foul when he didn't have the ball, wasn't fighting for position, and his defender stumbling after blatantly tripping over a teammates leg. So much for "superstars getting every call." Or has T-Mac fallen from that level?
• Daniel Gibson got the first start of his rookie season against the Raps and had a solid game. The 2nd round pick has quickness and a sweet stroke. He looks to be a guy who can impact the Cavs in a positive way.
-- David Thorpe
It took Boston forward Brian Scalabrine just one quarter to surpass his previous season high in points and rebounds. Scalabrine, who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, had seven points and five rebounds in the first.
• Raptors F Morris Peterson was activated after missing seven games with a partial tear in his left elbow. Peterson played 371 consecutive games before getting hurt against the Cavs on Nov. 22.
• Magic rookie J.J. Redick made his second appearance this season, scoring four points in 10 minutes.
-- The Associated Press
Gibson tops Ford in a Longhorn story
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace, left, is fouled by the Spurs' Beno Udrih, in the 96-76 win for San Antonio. The Bobcats won the last meeting in overtime.
Quotes of the Day
-- Andrew Ayres
Ben Wallace, Chicago, IL: As on of the earliest headband wearers yourself, please vouch for me that I should be allowed to wear my headband. This is America!
Bill Walton: Ben I wish you would spend your time getting a rebound here or there . . . or maybe even blocking a shot now or then. As opposed to looking for an accomplice. Ben you knew the rules going in. You have flaunted a trivial pursuit to deflect your lack of productivity, deflecting attention from your inability to get the job done. Ben I am saddened and crestfallen, for years you've been one of the players that I've admired most.
You forever represented all workingmen heroes to the extent that you played with passion, pride, determination and purpose. And now to get bogged down in the banalities of individual freedom and rights, in a team game that is a privilege to be a part of. Please Ben, what has happened? Your world has gone mad before our eyes. Please Ben, loosen your headband and go get a rebound.
The Nuggets squandered a 17-point fourth quarter lead in their 98-96 loss to the Hawks. Denver hadn't been defeated in a game in which it led by that many points at any time during the fourth period since an overtime loss to Minnesota on Feb. 5, 2000.
Atlanta was the second team to win a game this season in which it trailed by at least 17 points during the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers overcame a 19-point deficit in the final period of a 94-93 victory over the Celtics on Nov. 11.
Rick (Ft. Worth): Your statement about the Mavs being an "undisputed" No. 1 seems designed to solicit negative comments. But for those who do want to dispute it by bringing up the relatively weak schedule Dallas had during its win streak, just remind them that Detroit lost its winning streak to the lowly Bobcats, who've also beaten the Spurs and Cavs and almost nobody else. Any team can win on any given night, so a 12-game winning streak is great no matter whom you've played.
Committee's counter: We decided to let you handle it, Rick.