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News » LeBron and Shaq put on an exhibition of teamwork

LeBron and Shaq put on an exhibition of teamwork

LeBron and Shaq put on an exhibition of teamworkCavaliers 92 Bobcats 87

If their first time on the floor together as teammates was any indication, LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal fully intend to become a formidable 1-2 punch.

During the preseason every player has his own focus and own little missions, which is why the games can often seem disjointed and without much flow. That was the case Tuesday when the Cavaliers opened the preseason, but there was no missing the two superstars' attempts at fostering chemistry.

What was missing during the Cavs' 92-87 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats at The Q was guard Delonte West. The Cavs planned to play West and he warmed up and was in the locker room before the game. However, it was determined he wasn't quite ready and was a late scratch. West declined to speak to the media before the game. Anthony Parker started at shooting guard.

West is going to be away from the team for a few days to handle personal business. The absence is excused.

But back to the James/O'Neal show, or at least the start of it. It was abbreviated as they were only on the floor together for a little more than 10 minutes, as is custom this early in the proceedings. But the duo was making an effort to work off each other at the offensive end.

"For it to be a first game, me and Shaq definitely played pretty well together," James said. "It shouldn't be hard for the both of us. We know how to play Basketball and we want to win."

Numerous times they played a two-man game in sets, setting up pick-and-roll plays or alley-oops. Other times they worked together off the ball, O'Neal once setting a screen so James could get free to catch a pass in the post. On one pick-and-roll, James lobbed the ball into O'Neal for a layup; another time, James fed O'Neal a cross-court lob that drew a foul.

When the Bobcats committed an extra defender to the two, O'Neal dished to Anderson Varejao for a good look, though Varejao was caught off guard and fumbled the pass.

"If you take your body off Shaq, LeBron's going to make the pass and it's going to be a dunk or a foul," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "Shaq knows how to play and how to pass and Andy knows how to pass and they both move well off the ball. I think we'll see that often."

Neither seemed to play at full speed, but there was the beginning of a foundation. James looked much crisper than in the Wine & Gold Scrimmage last Saturday, scoring 15 points in 15 minutes. O'Neal didn't shoot the ball as well as on Saturday, partially because the Bobcats were paying a little extra attention to him. He scored six points and had three rebounds.

"He's a great player and I have a lot of experience playing with great young players," O'Neal said of James. "I'm still learning the offense, but come the opening of the season I'll be ready."

O'Neal had some trouble with the replacement officials, who are working for the regular locked-out referees, as he was called for three fouls in just 16 minutes. But he was not alone - there were other complaints, and Bobcats coach Larry Brown was slapped with a technical foul.

Other than the two superstars there were some other positives for the Cavs, most notably forward J.J. Hickson, who continues to have perhaps the best training camp of anyone on the roster. Moving well and showing force, he piled up 15 points in 16 minutes off the bench. He made 6 of 9 shots and grabbed a team-high five rebounds as he is making it seem like he's got a spot in the rotation locked down in just the second week.

Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, coming off the bench for the Cavs for the first time since 2002, started a little slow. But in the second half, which he started, he played better and found his jumper on the way to scoring six points.

If there was a clear Cavs' letdown, it came from the rebounding. Despite the Bobcats missing top big men Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw to injuries, the Cavs looked sluggish in getting position and chasing loose balls. By the time it was over the rebounding was even, but the Cavs were beaten up in the first half with their starters getting most of the minutes.

D.J. Augustin led Charlotte with 12 points. The two teams will meet again Saturday in Charleston, S.C.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5166

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 9, 2009


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