Cavaliers 92, Grizzlies 86
With a certain someone somewhere else, the Cleveland Cavaliers
need a go-to star, the one they can count on to take the big shots
and make the big plays.
Mo Williams wants LeBron’s old job.
He scored 25 points – 18 in the second half – with a season-high
12 assists, J.J. Hickson added 16 points, and the Cavaliers snapped
out of a fourth-quarter offensive funk just in time to beat the
Memphis Grizzlies 92-86 on Saturday night.
Williams hit a 3-pointer and a floater in the final 1:21, and
stuffed the boxscore with stats like LeBron James once did in
Cleveland as the Cavaliers overcame missing their first 13 shots in
the fourth to win their seventh straight at home over Memphis.
It was the second straight strong performance at home for
Williams, whose game-winning, step-back jumper at the horn on
Wednesday beat Milwaukee.
”He’s playing extremely well,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott
said. ”Tonight, he was fantastic, a double-double, finding the
open guys. I think he had four turnovers, which we’d like to cut in
half. But other than that, he’s trying to play the right way and
make the right decisions.
”He’s playing great.”
Hickson bounced back from a stretch of bad games, Joey Graham
added 12 points and Anderson Varejao had 11 rebounds for the
Cavaliers, who improved to 7-9 in their first season without James.
The two-time league MVP used to do it all for Cleveland, and the
team sorely needs someone to step up and take over.
Williams is ready to try.
”Each team has got to have that guy to get something going as
far as a flow in the offense,” Williams said. ”It’s not going to
be me every night. I’ll be aggressive every night, but it’s my job
to get my teammates the ball and ride them.”
Rudy Gay scored 17 points and Zach Randolph and O.J. Mayo had 13
apiece for the Grizzlies. Memphis scored only 35 in the second
half, possibly because of fatigue after playing on Friday and not
getting to Cleveland until 4 a.m.
”I’m not going to get into excuses,” Gay said. ”We’re
basketball players. If we weren’t professionals, there would
probably be times we’d be in a pickup game at 11 o’clock at
Memphis had its winning streak stopped at three.
”They were all over the place. We turned the ball over. We were
running into each other, running into them,” Gay said of the
Cavaliers. ”When they put pressure on us, we can’t fold like we
Williams helped fold them.
With the score tied 84-84, he drained a 3 from the top of the
key, and after a Memphis miss, Williams drove through traffic in
the lane and fed Hickson for a layup to make it 89-84 with 29
seconds left. Mike Conley’s two free throws pulled the Grizzlies
within three, but Williams ran down the clock before driving just
inside the foul lane and sinking a soft, arching shot to put
The Cavaliers picked the worst possible time for their offense
to go into hiding. They missed 13 straight shots in the fourth
before Hickson’s layup put Cleveland ahead 82-80 with 3:04
remaining. Before Hickson’s bucket, the Cavs scored just five
points in the period – all free throws.
With Cleveland trailing 60-56 in the third, Williams went to
work during a 16-0 run.
He set up Joey Graham’s 3-pointer and then knocked down a jumper
to put the Cavaliers ahead for the first time since the first
quarter. Later, he connected on back-to-back 3-pointers, makes that
prompted Jamario Moon and Cleveland’s reserves to flash the
three-finger ”Goosie” sign that was made popular a year ago, but
has hardly been used this season.
”He made good shots,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. ”He
drove to the basket. He made jumpers. He’s a good player.”
Scott was on his best sideline behavior, one day after
criticizing the officials following a loss in Orlando. Scott was
contacted by an NBA official on Saturday, who asked some questions
and appeared to be satisfied with the coach’s answers.
”They said they’d talk to me later,” Scott said. ”I said,
‘OK. Have a good day.”’
Scott expects to be fined for the first time as a coach, and has
zero regrets about speaking his mind.
”I’m not going to bite my tongue,” he said.
Notes: Wearing mustard-colored sneakers, Hickson scored in
double digits for the first time since Nov. 13. … It wasn’t long
after Scott lambasted officials Ed Malloy, Bennie Adams and Kevin
Fehr in Orlando that he heard from his wife, Anita. ”She was like,
‘Oh my, God. What did you do?”’ Scott said. … The Cavaliers have
a challenging week ahead – both emotionally and physically – as
they’ll host Boston on Tuesday before the game everyone is
awaiting: The return of James with the Miami Heat on Thursday.