The Cleveland Cavaliers had a very busy weekend (isn’t the weekend usually time to rest?), playing three games in as many days starting on Friday. The Cavaliers weekend was so busy that head coach Byron Scott decided to rest Antawn Jamison in the second game of the three-game hurrah.
Scott’s decision to rest Jamison was due to the opponent (the Cavs were facing the Washington Wizards on Saturday) and Jamison’s need for rest. Jamison had been the only Cavalier to start in all 57 games up until Saturday night when Scott gave him a much-needed night off. Jamison hopes to play at least two more seasons in the NBA, so his legs can use any rest opportunities they can get.
In the first game on Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers faced off against the Indiana Pacers for the second time in three nights. The Cavaliers, who took the Pacers to overtime on Wednesday, were in a competitive game when the second quarter ended at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It was a 34-13 run in the third quarter that basically put the game to rest, and clinched a playoff sport for the underrated Pacers.
The Pacers may be shaky at times, but their starters always comes through in the clutch to help close out games. Despite Paul George being cold all night long, four out of the five Pacer starters scored in double figures. Those four were David West (10 points), Danny Granger (18), Roy Hibbert (12) and George Hill (15).
It seemed that West wasn’t took shaken up from injuring Cavaliers’ mascot Moondog on Wednesday night. Instead he also contributed 6 rebounds. Some big Cavalier contributors included Donald Sloan, 12 points and five assists, and Samardo Samuels, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Sloan and Samuels are making a strong push to impress the Cavaliers front office.
But it was an added 16 points from Tyler Hansbrough, who went 8-8 from the field throw line, and 13 points from Leandro Barbosa, who shot 3-3 from trey land.
Lester Hudson sturggled for the first time since he’s been called up from the Austin Toros. He was limited to seven points in 19 minutes and turned over the ball five times. The team, however, had a +/- rating of +12 when Hudson was on the floor.
In the end it was just another game that the Cavaliers threw away in just a short 12 minutes, another game where the Cavaliers shot under 40 percent from the field (35.4) and another game where the Cavaliers added another ping pong ball to the hopper. The Cavs lost the game 102-83.
The Cavaliers then made the trip to the nation’s capital to face off against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center. The Wizards are the second-worst team in the NBA, so they’re familiar with the aspect of the Cavaliers season based on winning a few games here and there, but wanted to lose often to increase their chances of winning the NBA Draft lottery.
Even without Jamison in the lineup the Cavalier starters delivered one of their best performances all season. Alonzo Gee (11 points, two steals), Luke Harangody (16 points, 10 rebounds), Tristan Thompson (14 points, two blocks), Anthony Parker (15 points, five assists) and Sloan (13 points, four assists) all provided solid stat lines that were balanced at the same time. A balanced team is always the best-case scenario if the Cavaliers want to win a basketball game.
Lester Hudson and Manny Harris added some extra help off the bench. Hudson added 10 points and four rebounds and Harris scored seven points.Hudson got back in double digits, so hopefully he continued on that path against the Orlando Magic on Sunday.
It wouldn’t be fair to end this recap of the Wizards-Cavaliers game without mention of Wizards point guard John Wall, who had 19 points on 8-16 shooting. Wall is averaging 16.5 points and 7.7 assists this season and deserves recognition for sticking through with this awful Washington team.
Cleveland beat the Wizards with a D-League player in Harangody* who was sent up in the middle of a Canton Charge playoff run, a player who they cut last year in order to make room for Hudson in Gee and a player who was not on any team until the short-handed Cavs picked him up in Sloan. That basically tells you how bad the Wizards are.
*Harangody is actually in the middle of a four-games-in-four-days marathon, playing two games with the Charge, a game with the Cavaliers and the second Charge playoff game
The Cavaliers improved to 20-38 after beating the Wizards 98-89 on Saturday night. The Cavaliers went to 1-1 on their three-game weekend, playing the Magic on Sunday to settle the series for Cleveland.
The also short-handed Magic were without Dwight Howard (expected out for the rest of the season) and Glen Davis (sprained right knee in the first quarter). There was a possibility that the Cavaliers could win this game, especially with Jamison back in the lineup.
But with a 30-point first half, the lowest they scored in any half this season, pretty much put the Cavaliers out of reach the rest of the game. The Magic led by 13 points in the first half and finished the game with a 16-point lead. An excellent shooting night by Jameer Nelson, 8-14 for 21 points, sunk the Cavs whenever they tried to crawl back into the game.
The Wine and Gold would get within eight points and then Nelson would hit a shot that would prevent any Cavalier comeback. Even without big men Howard and Davis, the Magic had enough depth to reach out to in order to make up for their absences. Earl Clark (13 points) and Daniel Orton (11 points) helped to carry the load on the bench, putting the Cavs 3.5 games ahead for the sixth spot.
A crazy weekend ended with the Cavaliers losing 100-84, dropping their record to 20-39 on the season. 20 wins means that the Cavaliers earned more victories this season in a shortened season than they did all of last season.
Going 1-2 on the weekend was just enough to keep Cavalier fans happy. Cleveland will travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.