Final Dime: Hornets 96, Cavaliers 81
Anthony Parker lifts a jumper in Cleveland's Sunday night loss at The Q.
David Liam Kyle
But Byron Scott’s young squad has a valid excuse for Sunday’s uneven effort as the squad attempts to integrate their new acquisitions into the rotation.
The Cavaliers trailed by only three points after one quarter and at intermission. The Hornets ran their lead to double-digits just before the close of the third quarter, but Baron Davis canned a three from just inside mid-court to cut New Orleans’ edge to 73-66.
Midway through that third quarter, All-Star guard Chris Paul collided with Ramon Sessions in the paint and was taken off the floor on a stretcher. He was moving his arms and legs while trainers worked on him and gave his teammates a thumbs-up before leaving the floor.
With Paul out of action, the Cavaliers had an opportunity to make a move, but New Orleans rallied after losing their star – holding Cleveland to just 20 total points after Paul went down. The Cavs managed just 15 points in the final period.
"I think once (Paul) got hurt we seemed to take a big ol exhale like ‘now the game is going to be easy’ and they just got more determined and took it from there," lamented Coach Scott. "They have a lot of veterans so we should've known that they weren't going to all of a sudden lay down."
Playing in his first home game since arriving in a deadline deal ten days ago, Baron Davis led the Cavaliers with 17 points – going 6-of-11 from the floor, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. David added a team-high six assists to go with five boards, two steals and a blocked shot.
"Tonight was one of those games where it just didn’t look like we had any type of rhythm," said Davis. "(Maybe) that's because guys are still getting familiar with each other."
Ramon Sessions and J.J. Hickson followed up with 15 points apiece, with Hickson adding a game-high 10 boards.
Roookie Samardo Samuels rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 11 points and eight boards.
The Hornets shot 52 percent from the floor and 83 percent from the stripe. Behind David West and Emeka Okafor, New Orleans dominated the Cavaliers in the paint, 40-22.
The Cavaliers welcome Golden State to The Q on Tuesday night before heading to Milwaukee to complete the second-half of their mid-week back-to-back.
2. On Sunday night, Baron Davis made his home debut in a Cavaliers uniform, and got a big ovation when he came off the bench (along with Luke Harangody) with 4:50 left in the first quarter.
"The fans are great here," praised Davis. "I’ve been dying to play in front of this crowd. With them standing up and the ovation like that, it just makes me want to play my hardest and win as many games as we can with this organization."
3. Since February 10, and despite Sunday’s rough showing, the Cavaliers have been one of the best offensive clubs in the league – ranking 3rd in scoring (106.0), 2nd in 3-pt field goal percentage (.416) and 4th in assists per game (23.7). In that span, the lead the NBA in second-chance points, (17.8 ppg).
4. Since assuming the starting center role on January 9, only Dwight Howard (388) has grabbed more rebounds than J.J. Hickson’s 292.
5. On Sunday, J.J. doubled-up for the 17th time this year – and the 21st time in his career – averaging 19.6 points and 14.2 boards in those contests.
6. In his three starts as a pro, Samardo Samuels is now averaging 16.3 points and 8.0 boards per contest. The former Louisville standout led the Cavaliers with three blocks on Sunday night.
7. After canning his first three-point attempt of the evening and missing the second, Christian Eyenga’s long-distance shooting streak ended at seven straight treys.
8. Chris Paul was fully conscious and did not lose feeling anywhere at any time after his collision with Sessions. He was taken to the Cleveland Clinic for precautionary tests, all of which were negative and revealed that Paul suffered a concussion. He rejoined the team at the arena and will travel with the Hornets to Chicago.
9. With Baron Davis set to assume the starting point guard spot, Ramon Sessions just keeps chugging along. Including his 15-point effort on Sunday, Sessions is averaging 18.5 points and 8.1 assists over his last 14 games.
10. The final piece of the Cavaliers’ trio of trade deadline acquisitions – Semih Erden – made his Cavaliers debut on Sunday night. In just under 11 minutes of action, the young Turk went 0-for-3 from the floor with five boards and a block.
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.