I’d like to expand on that thought right now, but my mind is still caught somewhere between JJ’s “This is The Hickson’s house” rejection he served Blake Griffin, and the All Star caliber stat line he finished with as the confetti fell from the rafters.
JJ Hickson was a beast last night. As important as Jamison’s 35 points, 9 rebounds, and massively clutch shooting was in the 126-119 OT win over the Clippers, the Cavs don’t stop the bleeding at 26 if Hickson doesn’t show up channelling his inner Hakeem Olajuwon.
He went for 27 points on 12 of 19 from the floor and finished with game highs of 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. He blocked a shot that sent it to OT, and was everything Cavs fans ever went out on a limb to dream, hope, think, or pretend he could possibly play himself into becoming this season. The Cavaliers won because of him last night.
Hickson has now scored double figure points in each of his last seven games, and is averaging 19.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per during that recent stretch. He said of his blocked shot at the end of regulation, “I knew it wasn’t goaltending, I got the ball at it’s highest point.”
And he left Cavs fans questioning what they thought they knew about JJ Hickson all over again in the process.
After the game Byron Scott called the team’s performance “bittersweet”, saying “with about a minute left in the game, I looked up and said, if we’d have played this hard the last game, we would have won. It’s great that we finally got the monkey off our backs, but I expect our guys to play this hard every single night. If we do that, then we’ll be OK.”
If Hickson played this hard personally every night, he’d be better than ok. He’d be an All Star actually. Which leads me to a place where I’m torn between categorizing his performance last night as either “bittersweet” or “encouraging.”
The thing is, the fact that Hickson played a game like this isn’t necessarily surprising. Everybody who’s paid attention to the guy has known he’s “capable” of games like this. The ability is certainly there, but is the mental toughness needed to be consistent? Is he motivated enough to find a way for that light to not only turn on like it has recently, but stay on for the duration?
Hickson said afterwards he was “motivated to get a win,” and that obviously showed. I hope he stays motivated to get wins, because if he does than they will.
Mo Williams’ return to the lineup obviously helped a whole lot last night too though for both JJ and the Cavaliers collectively. Mo had a good night scoring in the win that broke the streak, finishing with 17 points on 7 of 18 shooting, and there was no jumper bigger than the one he hit with 6 seconds left in regulation to tie things up. His most gigantic contribution in the win was as a facilitator, though.
Mo dished out a game-high 14 assists as compared to only 2 turnovers. No other Cavalier or Clipper finished with more than 7. I imagine that knowing that the ball will move, and people will find you if you’re motivated to attack the rim would kinda help a young player actually be motivated to attack the rim. Whether he should be motivated anyways or not.
But regardless of where Hickson goes from here, I’m not going to let myself go to either extreme at this point. I’m not going to let myself get as overly bullish as I was this summer, nor do I currently think that writing the guy off is specifically necessary right now either.
I’m going to simply enjoy the blocks, enjoy the effort, and enjoy the win. It was a long time coming, and who knows when we’ll see another one. I’m just glad we don’t have to wait until Sunday to see the first one in 2011.