Overview: The Cavs led the New Jersey Nets for most of the game, but were outscored 30-24 in the fourth quarter of a 101-103 loss. Brook Lopez led all scorers with 28 points, and made the game-winning basket with just over a second to go. The Cavaliers have not won a game since December 18th, 2010.
So close, and yet THE CAVS HAVE NOT WON A GAME THIS YEAR bullets:
Well, it looked like the Cavs might have had a chance in that one. The Cavs’ plan coming into Monday’s game was to attack the Nets at every opportunity and hope they’d make mistakes, and that’s not a terrible plan at all. The Cavs looked to push at every opportunity, Ramon attacked the basket with his signature brand of reckless aggression, Gibson made some nice plays off the dribble and still looks like a better point guard than Mo Williams in every possible way, and the Nets made a LOT of mistakes on both ends when they were (or weren’t) pressured into making them.
Antawn Jamison even slipped the pick and went inside a couple of times instead of slipping the pick, going outside, and launching a jumper immediately, although he also did a lot of the latter. Hickson chose this game to try and make things happen at the rim instead of settling for jumpers, which was an odd choice because he had no chance of scoring inside against Brook Lopez. He shot 6-19 overall, and 5-13 inside the paint.
As the game went on, the Nets were able to settle down and use their dominant size advantage inside, as well as get a couple of nice plays from Devin Harris, whom the Cavs had no chance of guarding.
Still, the game was close with the Cavs up by 7 and 8:25 remaining in the game. Then the following happened:
– Ramon Sessions misses a layup, and Anthony Morrow hits a three in transition to cut the lead to four. I’ll talk more about Morrow later on, but I’m shocked how many times the Cavs got away with leaving him open from beyond the arc.
– After Jamison forces a catch-and-shoot three over Brook Lopez with 14 seconds on the shot clock (GRRRR), the Nets push and get a Farmar three in transition. The lead is cut to 1.
– After Humphries leaves Jamison open 10 feet away from the basket to double-trap Sessions and Lopez leaves Jamison to deny Hickson the ball on the other side of the lane (there’s a reason the Nets suck), Sessions makes the easy pass to Jamison, who hits a flip shot. Cavs by 3.
– The Nets free up Brook in the post with a weak side double-screen and get him the ball. When Sessions comes from the top to double, Lopez spins baseline and hits the hook. Not a lot that could have been done about that one, honestly.
– 1-pass possession as Hickson forces a jumper from the top of the key with 16 seconds left on the shot clock. Devin Harris calmly slices through the Cavs defense in transition and lays it in to give the Nets the lead.
– Out of a timeout, Scott sets up Graham in the post against Morrow. Graham leaves the hook shot short.
– Farmar gets Ryan Hollins to bite on a pass-to-shot-to-pass fake, and Brook Lopez converts the open dunk.
– Boobie forces a contested three with 16 seconds on the shot clock. No dice.
– Farmar gets Jamison on a switch, beats him with an up-and-under fake, and lays it in. You know your bigs suck at defense when Jordan Farmar is going Kevin McHale on them.
– Three-point possession for the Cavs as the Nets commit a defensive 3 and Razor Ramon hits a line-drive jumper when the Nets go under the screen. I’m not sure if that shot went above the rim before going in, but it kept the Cavs in the game.
– Farmar stalls the Nets offense to a halt, but hits the pull-up three to put them up by 5.
– Sessions gets under the basket and draws 3 defenders, then finds Boobie for a clutch three that keeps the Cavs in the game. You’ve gotta love Boobie Gibson.
– Antawn Jamison actually makes the correct rotation on a Brook Lopez pick-and-roll, but Lopez hits his patented 10-foot semi-balanced hook over him.
– After a Graham put-back, Morrow hits a big-time pull-up to put the Nets up by four. Boobie answers with another huge, contested three to cut the lead to one.
– Sessions fakes Anthony Morrow out of his shoes, then dunks over Brook Lopez to give the Cavs the lead again. I try not to assume that good shooters suck at defense, because everyone else does, but Anthony Morrow sucks at defense.
– KEY PLAY: Out of a time-out, the Nets run a Humphries-Harris pick-and-roll. Jamison half-heartedly tries to get above the pick, but comes nowhere close to stopping Harris from turning the corner. He then jogs back towards the paint as Humphries runs to the rim unimpeded, catches a pass from Brook Lopez, and dunks it to give the Nets the lead back. Damnit, Jamison. At least the other players on the team are supposed to suck. Oh, and on the next possession Jamison bricked a forced pick-and-pop three with 10 seconds on the shot clock. Good thing Boobie didn’t get to touch the ball on that possession.
– Anthony Morrow splits a freaking double-team and hits a bank shot to put the Nets up by three. For a guy who came into the league as an undrafted spot-up shooter, Anthony Morrow has watermelon balls.
– With the Cavs down three, Sessions drives and finds Graham wide-open in the corner for three because Morrow is busy smelling a well-covered Ryan Hollins’ back. Morrow giveth, and Morrow taketh away.
– The Nets go to Brook Lopez for their final possession. In what may be the single most hilariously incompetent play in a hilariously incompetent season, Hollins starts SLAPPING LOPEZ’S BACK like he’s playing the bongo drums in an attempt to give the Cavs’ remaining foul. I couldn’t see the foul before the replay, personally, and when I was looking for it it just looked like Hollins had seen a spider on Brook’s jersey. Hollins probably should have wrapped Lopez up, but then again Hollins has the basketball IQ of a hot pretzel with cinnamon sugar glaze.
– With just over a second remaining, the Cavs go for the win and Boobie launches a ridiculous, contested three that nearly goes in but clanks of the back rim. Cavs lose. Again. If they don’t beat the Nuggets at home or the Heat, the Celtics, or the Magic on the road, they’re going winless in January. That’s all for now. Yeesh.