Grizzlies hand Cavs 23rd straight loss
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are haunted again by losing No. 23.
The Cavaliers matched the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history, dropping their 23rd straight game with a 112-105 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
The Cavs tied the 1995-96 Grizzlies, then in Vancouver, and the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets for longest skid in one season, and can equal their own overall mark for futility with a loss in Saturday night's game at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Cleveland lost 24 straight games spanning the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons.
"Watching the guys in the locker room, the one thing I can say is guys are very disappointed in the way we finished the game," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. "And maybe that's a good thing."
One season after losing LeBron James, who led the Cavs to the league's best record the last two seasons while wearing No. 23, Cleveland (8-42) clinched a losing record.
"Everybody was really quiet with their heads down," said center J.J. Hickson, who matched his career best with 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. "We're not playing to lose. We're not going out there trying to lose. I think we did a good job of playing hard."
Ramon Sessions finished with 20 points and Antawn Jamison scored 19 for Cleveland, which hasn't won since a Dec. 18 overtime victory over the New York Knicks.
Zach Randolph had 29 points and 13 rebounds, and Rudy Gay added 26 points and 11 boards as Memphis won its season-best fifth straight.
Memphis also moved into the Western Conference playoff picture, taking over the eighth spot by a half-game after its victory and Portland's 100-87 loss to Indiana.
Mike Conley added 21 points and eight assists for Memphis, while Sam Young finished with 19 points, matching his season best.
"I think we are at the point where we believe that we can win," Randolph said. "We can compete with anybody. We just have to continue to build trust and help each other on defense, and try to execute the game plan."
The Cavaliers were without guard Daniel Gibson, who left the team earlier in the day and returned to Cleveland for personal reasons. Add to that Mo Williams, the team's second-leading scorer, and Anderson Varejao are out with injuries, and Cleveland was at a personnel disadvantage.
The 6-foot-9 Hickson started at center, and rookie Christian Eyenga, who was in the D-League a little over a month ago, was at forward.
Cleveland gave Memphis all it could handle through the first three quarters, but the Grizzlies put together 13 straight points to open the fourth en route to their eighth win in nine games.
Despite the Grizzlies hitting their first 10 shots of the game, Cleveland took advantage of Memphis' subsequent lackadaisical approach in the first half and led by 10 before carrying a 59-52 lead into the break. Hickson already had 21 points, including 14 in the second quarter.
The Cavs led much of the third, and Jamison's inside basket with a second left in the period gave Cleveland an 84-83 lead heading into the fourth.
"We were in a desperate situation," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "The way we were turning the ball over in the first half, it could have very easily gotten away from us."
But the Memphis rally to open the fourth sent Cleveland to a familiar finish.
"They say you can't win 'em all, but in the same light, you can't lose 'em all either," Hickson said. "So, if we stay (focused), I think we can get a couple of wins before the season's over."
NOTES: Randolph was chosen the Western Conference's player of the month for January before the game. ... Scott was a member of the 1995-96 Grizzlies. ... One of Cleveland's eight wins was Nov. 27 over the Grizzlies in Cleveland. ... Memphis had not won five straight since the end of the 2005-06 season. ... The teams are among those that have played the most road games in the league. Memphis has 28 games away from home; Cleveland played its league-leading 29th on Friday. Cleveland plays nine of its next 10 at home.
Updated February 4, 2011