Cleveland (51-13) at Kings (14-50)
Scoring: Kings 14th (99.5), Cavaliers 13th (99.7)
Shooting: Kings 25th (44.75 percent), Cavaliers fifth (46.82)
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (108.2), Cavaliers first (90.4)
Shooting defense: Kings 29th (47.94 percent), Cavaliers first (42.87)
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.31), Cavaliers third (plus-2.96)
The link: Cavaliers coverage in the Cleveland Plain Dealer ; Kings coverage in The Bee (Story, notes and game preview.
The almanac: On this date in 1962, the season ended and Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain became the only player to exceed 4,000 points (4,029) and average over 50 points (50.4 per game) in an NBA season. On this date in 1962, the Boston Celtics beat the Syracuse Nationals 142-110, becoming the first team to win 60 games (60-20) in an NBA season. On this date in 1998, Utah's John Stockton scored the 15,000th point of his career in a 110-101 win over Vancouver. On this date in 1999, Charles Barkley of the Houston Rockets became the third player in NBA history to amass 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists when he recorded his first assist in a 100-89 victory over Cleveland. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain in this elite group.
After watching LeBron James' performance last night against the Phoenix Suns, I just had to ask: Is there anyone out there who doesn't expect him to come up with another triple-double tonight against the Kings - for what would be his fourth straight? Actually, it should be interesting to watch Andres Nocioni try to aggravate and outmuscle James, one of the three obvious candidates (Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade) for the MVP award. But these are the Kings. Their defense is horrific. Poor Andres will be flying solo ....
The only way James figures to have an off-night is if he doesn't play, which became a real possibility Thursday night. With 1:56 remaining in the third quarter, and the Cavs leading 86-83, he collided with Grant Hill on a drive to the basket, then fell to the court, clutching his left knee/shin. He stayed in the game, however, and in his postgame TNT interview with Craig Sager, said he planned to ice the leg, receive treatment, and see how he felt Friday before determining his availability against the Kings.
FOR THE STAT FREAKS, WHEREVER YOU ARE
LeBron's last three games:
Against the Suns: 34 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists.
Against the Clippers: 32 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists.
Against the Heat: 14 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists.
THE BENEFITS OF HIGH DEFINITION, AND REPLAYS
Donte Greene has to be thinking that he should have stayed in school. He's had a tough week, a tougher season. And Syracuse beats Connecticut in a SIX-OVERTIME classic Thursday night in the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden? He could have been there. He could have been a sophomore, teaming up with the Orangemen's Johnny Flynn, who played 67 the 70 minutes against the Huskies. Instead, the good-natured Greene has spent most of his rookie season on the bench, coping with pranks, popcorn and constant carping about his lousy defense, and not having a lot of fun. He still wishes the Kings let him make more than a cameo appearance with their Reno affiliate in the D-League. At least he got in a game. Still, he's one of the lucky ones. He's still receiving a nice paycheck. - Ailene Voisin
OPENING RE-TIP (by Sam Amick): Not if Nocioni can do anything about it...
If James does make it four straight, Andres Nocioni will be a grumpy man late tonight.
The new Kings small forward has a bit of history with King James, having earned a reputation years back as being among the few defenders who could get under his skin. The genesis of his rep is from a game on March 31, 2005, when Chicago downed the Cavs 102-90 in overtime and Nocioni forced James into 10 of 28 shooting. It wasn't just about the numbers, though, as James did have 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds. It was about James admitting that Nocioni had legitimately irritated him. Nocioni finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the game.
"(Nocioni) does a lot of grabbing, holding, and scratching and everything to irritate me," James said then. "He did a good job fighting me and getting help from his back line. And you have to give someone credit for that. It can get frustrating when you don't get some calls you deserve, so you have to keep fighting."
Kings fans are loving this aspect of Nocioni's game, and he showed it in fine form on Tuesday against Oklahoma City. Jeff Green is no LeBron James, but he isn't typically a seven-turnover, lose-your-composure-and-your-mind kind of player either. On that night - with Nocioni poking and prodding and practically hugging him even before the ball would be play - he served as an entertaining undercard to what could be a fun main event tonight. - Sam Amick