Think back a few weeks ago, to the last time the Cleveland Cavaliers and LA Lakers matched up against each other. The Cavs were in the midst of what would eventually become a record-breaking losing streak. And the Lakers made them look like a junior varsity team from the School for the Blind. That’s how bad it was; no joke.
And after taking the floor with absolutely no sense of urgency in Sunday’s game against the Wizards, I will admit, I expected to see another 50 points blow out at the hands of the defending champs. Not because the Cavs are that scarce on talent, but because they’ve lacked a little heart in the recent weeks.
In Wednesday night’s matchup, Cleveland took the lead early and led by eight after one quarter. They coughed up that advantage about four or five minutes into the second quarter and all I could think was Here we go again.
But they rebounded.
And they fought back.
Ramon Sessions came off the bench to replace Mo Williams, who got in foul trouble early and never returned, and had himself a night. He torched Derek Fisher for 32 points on 9-of-16 from the field to go along with eight assists and three steals. He was an absolute stud out there.
And Anthony Parker teamed up with Sessions to produce a rather effective backcourt to counter the Kobe Bryant-Derek Fisher combination. Parker’s stellar defense held Bryant to just 8-of-24 from the field while, offensively, he outscored the Laker superstar with 18 points and nine assists. Most impressively, Parker was able to force Bryant into seven turnovers on the night.
The other three starters – Christian Eyenga, Antawn Jamison and JJ Hickson – combined for 42 points, 27 rebounds, five assists and four steals in the victory. Hickson, still, sported a rather unimpressive efficiency rating (+2) but he did a heck of a job on the offensive end, scoring 13 points and snagging 15 rebounds (nine of which we offensive).
If Cleveland can play like that on a nightly basis, they could be a pretty tough team to contain after the All-Star break. Sure, they’ll still probably be the worst team in the league. But they could play spoiler down the stretch and get themselves some confidence going into next season.
Keep on keepin’ on, Cleveland.