After showing questionable effort in nights past, Cavs head coach Byron Scott mixed things up by countering New Jersey’s Brook Lopez with a seven-footer of his own in Ryan Hollins.
On paper, the Cavaliers managed to hold the Nets to 34 percent shooting; Lopez himself was 7-of-21 – both marks receiving positive grades in the grand scheme of the 2010-11 Cavaliers season. But when it was all said and done, the Wine and Gold were outscored by four in overtime and would come up on the losing end of the 98-94 contest.
Typically, overtime is a period where experience and talent wins out. The Cavaliers, rife with players who would seemingly counter both qualities, would ultimately sputter in the extra period due to a stretch that involved two missed jump shots, a missed layup and a turnover.
Prior to the contest, starting center Ryan Hollins told the media that the Cavaliers head coach was simply looking for consistent effort from his players as “playing hard is contageous.” And judging by the coach’s comments following the loss, it certainly seems as if the two sides were on the same page in this on.
“It was one of the first games in a while, defensively, that I thought we were focused for 53 minutes,” said Scott. ”Our guys really battled and did a real good job defensively and that is something that we have been talking about; trying to establish that as our foundation. Tonight was a big step towards that.”
Like many times before, the Cavaliers found themselves down two points with less than one minute left on the clock, but could not execute – we’ve often mentioned the lack of a go-to option. In this one, the Cavaliers called upon Ramon Sessions (who led all players with 21 points, having one of his best games since the Cavs acquired Baron Davis), but the result of the attempted layup was a steal by New Jersey’s Kris Humphries though the call was indeed questionable at best after some contact occurred near the basket.
“In situations like that most of the time, referees are not going to give you that call,” said Scott. “Let’s just be honest, they are not going to give you that call unless you are Kobe (Bryant) or somebody like that, but they are not going to give you that call.”
As Craig discussed less than one week ago, the Cavaliers have seen considerably fewer trips to the free throw line despite playing at a higher pace. Without a “superstar,” the Wine and Gold are not going to be able to rely on “superstar” calls and instead have to focus that much more on execution. In this very instance, Sessions admitted to losing his footing and attempting to draw contact before he would be whistled for traveling.
Humphries, who Scott called “a man” earlier in the day, finished with 18 points, two blocked shots and a career-high 23 rebounds.
“We lost the game so I’m not concerned with individual performances,” said Ryan Hollins of his starting job. “I know I played as hard as I could play, so I’ll give myself that. But we win as a team and lose as a team.”
For those wondering just how well the JJ Hickson-Power Forward experiment went, the 6-foot-9-inch big man notched 17 points and 17 rebounds. He was 5-of-15 from the floor, but did manage to get to the line eight times where he would only miss one free throw attempt.
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)