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

night.”

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

did tonight.”

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

Memphis away.

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.