Finally Finished: Cavs end losing streak at 26

BY foxsports • February 12, 2011

Antawn Jamison came to Cleveland last season in a trade with dreams of one day making a big shot to win a championship - the one he's never gotten, the one this title-starved town has obsessed over for more than four decades.

On Friday night, Jamison made his biggest shot for the Cavaliers.

It wasn't what he imagined.

Then again, hardly anything has gone Cleveland's way since the summer.

Jamison's 3-pointer with 22 seconds left helped the Cavs end an NBA-record 26-game losing streak with a 126-119 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, who if not for a controversial call going against them would have sent Cleveland into greater infamy.

''That was probably the biggest 3 that I've had here, due to the situation, the scenario, the importance of getting a win for the morale of this team, this city and these fans,'' Jamison said. ''We've been working so hard for this. We finally got it.''

Just.

The Cavs ended a nearly two-month losing streak that included several near-misses and an epic 55-point loss to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Along the way, Cleveland, still smarting from LeBron James' departure as a free agent in July, was again in the spotlight for its sports misery.

But for one wintry night, everything was right once more in a city without a pro sports title since 1964.

''I can smile again,'' said Cavs guard Daniel Gibson, who scored nine points in overtime. ''It feels pretty good. Winning is a precious feeling.''

The losing streak - so long, so embarrassing, so hard to stop - is over.

The Cavs, who had become a late-night TV laughingstock as the losses piled up, won for the first time since Dec. 18 and just the second time in 38 games. They barely avoided loss No. 27, which would have given them the all-time losing streak among the four major sports.

Instead, they'll settle for a tie with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers for consecutive futility.

The Cavs were so close to having the mark to themselves.

They may have gotten a favorable call in the final seconds of regulation when Cleveland's J.J. Hickson blocked Baron Davis' potential game-winning layup.

The Clippers thought Hickson goaltended.

''I can't say what I think about all those things,'' Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin said. ''That was unbelievable. Throughout the whole game, it was just unbelievable. That was the worst home-court advantage I've ever seen. There's such a thing as home-court advantage, but that was unbelievable.''

Hickson, playing like a man possessed all night in a matchup with the powerful Griffin, added 27 points and 14 rebounds.

The Clippers made the Cavs (9-45) sweat out every second.

Down by six, Los Angeles cut it to 120-119 on Randy Foye's 3 with 44 seconds left. But Jamison responded by alertly popping outside on an inbounds play and draining his 3 from the left wing to revive the hopes of Cleveland fans, whose emotions soared and dropped by the minute.

After Foye's 3 rattled in and out with 14 seconds remaining, Gibson was fouled and Davis was ejected for arguing, later saying he didn't want to see the Cavs celebrate.

Gibson made the technical and dropped two more free throws to put the Cavs up seven. When Los Angeles misfired on its last trip, Cavs forward Jamario Moon grabbed the loose ball and held it high as the clock ticked off the precious last seconds.

The final horn sounded, but was drowned out by Cleveland's fans as wine-and-gold streamers and confetti that had been sitting high above Quicken Loans Arena since a week before Christmas tumbled down. Moments later, the anthem ''Cleveland Rocks'' shook the building.

The Cavs savored the win by lingering on the floor before heading to the locker room, where they celebrated as if they had won a playoff game.

''They're in there jumping around and having a good time,'' Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. ''I told them to enjoy it but let's not take a big breath and think, 'OK we got a win, great.' We have to think that we are supposed to win games.''

Griffin had 32 points and 13 rebounds, Davis scored 26 and Foye had 23 for the Clippers.

The Cavs were energized by the return of guard Mo Williams, who had 17 points and 14 assists in his first game in nearly a month because of a hip injury.

''He gave us a huge lift,'' Gibson said. ''All game long he kept saying, 'We ain't losing this game.' We all had that feeling.''

Hickson, who had seven blocks, swatted away Davis' layup at the horn to end a frenetic, first 48 minutes and the teams went to overtime tied at 110.

The Clippers screamed for goaltending, but it appeared Hickson got the ball just as it reached its peak and was about to hit the backboard.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro saw it differently.

''I thought it was goaltending,'' he said. ''They (the officials) didn't think it was. They can't review it because it wasn't a call that was made. I'll have to look at the film. I couldn't see from that angle. It looked like it got on the glass, but I'm guessing.''

A whistle there against Cleveland would have been a historic loss - and the cruelest one yet.

But this was the Cavs' night, a rare highlight in a nightmarish season that's a long way from being over.

''Gotta give it up,'' Davis said. ''They played well. They won. For a team that lost 26 games in a row, they came out, they wanted to win and they played like it. I'm not saying we didn't. They made big plays at the end. We didn't.''

Notes: Griffin damaged four padded courtside seats while diving for a loose ball in the opening seconds of the third quarter. Fortunately, the seats were unoccupied when the muscular 6-foot-10, 250-pound Griffin went flying headfirst after the ball. Otherwise, somebody would have been hurt. ... The Clippers will travel 6,510 miles on their eight-game, 14-day trip.



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