Gooden Pours It On vs. Wizards

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 26, 2007

CLEVELAND, April 25 -- Cleveland Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden made a baseline jumper, looked down at his hand in amazement and immediately began flicking his fingers one-by-one.

"That's called making it rain," Gooden said with a laugh. "Me and my teammates, I told them I can only hit four in a row before I can do that. Four in a row -- it's time to make it rain."

Gooden would hit five in a row to close out the second half Wednesday, his thunderstorm shooting display helping to push his team to an eventual 109-102 victory over the Washington Wizards in Game 2 of their first-round series. Gooden almost single-handedly turned a 37-32 deficit for Cavaliers into a 51-48 halftime lead, as he scored 15 points in the final 5 minutes 45 seconds of the second period.

Gooden tied his career playoff high with 24 points and 14 rebounds, giving the Cavaliers a much-needed boost when they had no idea what they would get from LeBron James, who was recovering from a sprained left ankle.

"It's been times this year, my whole career and I think the basket is wide and big as the ocean," Gooden said. "I feel like when I shoot it, I feel like it's going to go in. My teammates kept feeding me the ball and had the confidence to let me lead them through the stretch."

The Wizards have focused on trying to shut down James this series, but they trail 2-0 because his supporting cast has made them pay. The first night, the Wizards got burned by Larry Hughes. On this night, it was the 6-10 power forward with the headband and the funny patch of hair in the back of his head. "I'm an '80s baby. Growing up, I had the ducktail. I'm trying to bring it back," Gooden said of his unique hairstyle.

Last night, Gooden merely conjured up memories of the same night last season, when he had 24 points and 16 rebounds against the Wizards. The Cavaliers, however, lost the game. "I won't say it was my best game," Gooden said. "I will say it was one of my best playoff games. We got guys who come in and on any given night can contribute. Tonight was my night."

Gooden took special pleasure because he finally had a chance to make Wizards forward Antawn Jamison work on the defensive end. The Wizards arrived in Cleveland short-handed without Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, but that didn't mean anything to Gooden -- except he had a harder job than any player in a Cavaliers uniform. With no Arenas, Hughes had to guard Antonio Daniels. With no Butler, James got Jarvis Hayes.

Gooden didn't get any breaks. He had the unfair assignment of guarding the Wizards only remaining offensive option -- Jamison. Jamison scored a game-high 28 points in Game 1, with Gooden trying his best to chase him down.

In the film session on Monday, Gooden asked Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown for a shot back at Jamison. "He's going to have to play some type of defense," Gooden said of Jamison. "It's one thing to concentrate offensively and not have to play defense. That's a luxury right there that Tawn had. Us attacking him and keeping him honest is huge, not just tonight, but throughout the whole series."

"He's a player that's always been underutilized everywhere he's been," Cavaliers reserve Donyell Marshall said. "He's never been a person that you call plays for but he always gets it done. I know when we had our meeting when we split up in bigs and small. Tawn being their guy right now. We got to go back at Tawn. You can't let Tawn off the hook and let him play on offense and don't have to play defense."

James finished with a game-high 27 points with 9 rebounds and 7 assists but he gave credit to Gooden for leading them to victory. "We went to him and he carried us," James said. "It was big on Drew and big on us to keep feeding him the ball when he was feeling good."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company