The End: Cavs stop losing streak at 26

BY foxsports • February 11, 2011



By SAM AMICO
FOX Sports Ohio
Feb. 11, 2011


CLEVELAND --
There are times in life when nothing seems fair. You can't get anything right, and even when you do, things still turn out wrong.

To make matters worse, people point in your direction and laugh. A lot.

That was the Cavaliers of the past two months. They were down, they were out, they were losers of an NBA record 26 straight.

But in one night, all of that went away.

The final: Cavs 126, Los Angeles Clippers 119 in an overtime game Friday that had to be one of the NBA's best of the season.

The decree: Whew.

Actually, the Cavs and their fans didn't seem as relieved as they did reborn. On this night in Cleveland, there was energy, there was the occasional huge play and there was winning. And there was shutting up everyone who said the Cavs might never do any of the above again.

There was also the block of the season by J.J. Hickson on Blake Griffin's dunk attempt, which by this time, you have seen at least 3,213 times -- and that's just via memory alone. So you can only imagine how the Clippers' poor rookie sensation feels about it.

Then Hickson blocked Baron Davis' driving shot with the score tied at 110-all and the final buzzer about to sound.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro thought it should have been called goaltending, but the referees "didn't think it was and they can't review it."

Yeah, well, whatever.

The bottom line is the Clippers had another five minutes in overtime and couldn't get it done.

The bottom line is no one was as good as Hickson (27 points, 14 rebounds four blocks) or Antawn Jamison (35 points, 11-for-20 shooting) on this night.

And the bottom line is anyone who thought injuries to guys such as Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao didn't contribute to this nasty spell had better think again.

After all, Williams returned for the first time since Jan. 15 and promptly put up 17 points and 14 assists off the bench. But it wasn't just his numbers, it was the way he went about compiling them.

"He did a good job of creating the tempo that we want," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "He was really looking to push the ball and be aggressive. We saw that leadership we had been missing as well."

Scott also mentioned his team's 34 assists, citing them as a sign that the Cavs' first win since Dec. 18 was a true team effort.

The coach is right, as Gibson contributed 17 points, Ramon Sessions scored 12 and Christian Eyenga and Anthony Parker provided strong defense and kept the ball moving. Eyenga also had a highlight dunk off an alley-oop pass from Williams, a play that rivaled anything the remarkable Griffin did at the rim.

But what made all of this different, what made it all worthwhile, was this one ended with a good feeling. It's something the Cavs haven't had since a week before Christmas, when they beat New York in a game that also went to overtime.

That, of course, will most certainly get people talking about the Cavs' last win in regulation. (For those scoring at home, it took place Nov. 27 against Memphis.)

Still, the difference is the talk will at least be about something other than consecutive losses. The streak is finally over, and Clevelanders can say it in unison and sing it out loud.

This has been an extremely trying year for those who care about pro basketball in this city, and there are some who will tell you the pain hasn't ended since last July.

On this night, though, all that suffering came to end -- and the fans showed their gratitude with a standing ovation for a team that has 9 wins and 45 losses.

Today, those fans and this team can say they are 1-0 since Feb. 11. Today, things seem a little more fair.

"I can smile again," Gibson said. "Feels pretty good. Winning is a precious feeling."

Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO


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