Final
  for this game

Cavaliers-Suns Preview

Dec 21, 2009 - 6:04 AM By BRETT HUSTON STATS Writer

Cleveland (20-7) at Phoenix (18-9), 9:00 p.m. EDT

Shaquille O'Neal has been through this before, returning to the arena from which he's moved on while still existing as a dominant force on his new team.

His impact with the Cleveland Cavaliers, however, has been anything but extraordinary.

O'Neal returns to the desert Monday night for the first time since the Phoenix Suns dealt him to Cleveland last summer, but it'll be LeBron James and Mo Williams playing the leading roles for the Cavaliers as they try to become the first team to win in Phoenix since doing so themselves more than nine months ago.

O'Neal won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and another with Miami, but couldn't lead the Suns (18-9) to their first title, falling in the first round of the playoffs in 2008 and failing to reach the postseason in 2009.

Cleveland (20-8) acquired the 15-time All-Star hoping he'd be the last piece to help lead it to its first championship, but so far he's looked like little more than a highly paid role player. O'Neal is averaging 10.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and shooting 50.3 percent - all career lows - in the Cavaliers' half-court offense.

After going 24-4 through 28 games last season and outscoring their opponents by an average of 13.0 points, the Cavaliers have outscored the opposition by 5.0 points per game in 2009-10.

"Five of (our losses), we beat ourselves," said O'Neal, who's averaged 22.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in his three previous NBA homecomings. "It takes time. We just have to continue to grow and get better. As long as we get one of those four spots (for home-court advantage), we'll be fine."

O'Neal makes his return to Phoenix coming off a tough offensive night. He was 1 of 7 and tied a season low with five points Sunday as the Cavaliers lost 102-95 in Dallas to the Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavericks.

LeBron James had two of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and those struggles prompted coach Mike Brown to voice concerns about his offensive flow and criticize the calls James and O'Neal didn't get.

"For me, those two guys are the hardest to figure out when they'll get a call and when they won't get a call," Brown told the NBA's official Web site. "I've got to go back and watch the tape, but it definitely affected the rhythm that we had offensively."

Cleveland didn't have any problems offensively when Phoenix visited Quicken Loans Arena earlier this month. The Cavaliers jumped out to a 57-29 halftime lead en route to a 107-90 victory, with all 10 rotation players scoring between eight and 14 points.

O'Neal had 12 points and nine boards in 20 minutes, and Amare Stoudemire was impressed with his former teammate.

"He created some havoc defensively, got some baskets deep in the paint and rebounded well," said Stoudemire, who's averaged 26.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in his last three games. "Shaq's not looking horrible, I'll tell you that. He's looking pretty good and the Cavs are looking solid as well."

Stoudemire had 23 points and 14 boards Saturday night against Washington and Steve Nash had 15 points and 15 assists before sitting out the fourth in a 121-95 win that lifted Phoenix to 10-0 at home.

"We've talked about taking care of home court since training camp," Stoudemire said.

Dating to last season, the Suns have won 19 straight at home since a 119-111 loss to Cleveland on March 12. James had a triple-double - 34 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds - while Williams had 30 points.

Williams has averaged 28.3 points during the Cavaliers' three-game winning streak against Phoenix.






  • 18
    roots
    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Cavaliers 109, Suns 91  FinalDec 22 1:34 AM


  • NBA
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CLEVELAND 29 30 23 27 109
    PHOENIX 30 23 22 16 91 FINAL

    HIGH SCORERS: CLE - LEBRON JAMES 29, MO WILLIAMS 24,
    ANDERSON VAREJAO 13
    PHO - STEVE NASH 18, AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE 14,
    CHANNING FRYE 13

    Dec 21 11:26 PM
  • 13
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 13 roots (Close Finish)

    Cavaliers 86, Suns 82  4th - 9:13Dec 21 10:59 PM


  • NBA
    CLEVELAND 82
    PHOENIX 75 END, 3RD QTR

    Dec 21 10:52 PM


  • NBA
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CLEVELAND 29 30 59
    PHOENIX 30 23 53 HALFTIME
    HIGH SCORERS AT HALFTIME
    CLE - LEBRON JAMES 18, DELONTE WEST 9, TWO
    PLAYERS WITH 8
    PHO - AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE 12, STEVE NASH 10,
    JASON RICHARDSON 8

    Dec 21 10:11 PM


  • NBA
    CLEVELAND 29
    PHOENIX 30 END, 1ST QTR

    Dec 21 9:37 PM