Commentary

Hollinger's Insider Gems: Jan. 16, 2009

John Hollinger gives us five observations for Friday.

Updated: January 16, 2009, 2:57 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com

1. Speaking of LeBron James, it must have seemed like old times for him Thursday night … and not in a good way.

When Delonte West broke his wrist in the first half, that put three of Cleveland's five starters out of commission -- Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace already were sidelined. That, in turn, left James and Mo Williams playing two-on-five for much of the night in the Cavs' 102-93 loss to Chicago, similar to the past few seasons, when the Cavs surrounded James with little to distract opposing defenses.

It explains why they looked so beatable against an average team. Without West and Ilgauskas around to punish opposing defenses for blitzing James, the Cavs suffer. When Sasha Pavlovic and Lorenzen Wright fill those roles, suddenly it gets a whole lot easier to guard those positions.