Final Dime: Cavaliers 97, Kings 93
Ramon Sessions led the Cavaliers with 20 points in Wednesday's win.
Cleveland’s point guard made his statement by scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half – including the game-winning layup with 18.1 remaining to help the Wine and Gold snap their four-game skein with a 97-93 Wednesday night win over the Kings in Sacramento.
Wednesday’s matchup featured two teams at the bottom of their respective conferences, but that just made for an even – and sometimes feisty – battle in California’s capitol.
The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 10 in the first half – being dominated in the paint, 32-16. But the second stanza was a different story. J.J. Hickson came alive, netting 10 of his 17 points in the third quarter.
In the fourth, it was Sessions’ turn, and the former Nevada standout responded – going 3-for-3 from the floor in the final five minutes. His reverse layup put the Cavaliers ahead, 95-93, with Alonzo Gee tacking on a pair of free throws with 3.6 to play to seal the deal.
“It was a high pick-and-roll and I just attacked their bigs,” explained Sessions. “I was just trying to attack and I was able to turn the corner on Dalembert and get to the hole.”
Sessions was one of Cleveland’s catalysts, but there were plenty of contributors in Wednesday’s win.
Hickson added a team-high eight boards to his 17-point performance, going 6-of-12 from the floor. His frontcourt mate, Samardo Samuels, locked horns with highly-regarded rookie, DeMarcus Cousins, finishing with 13 points and taking another key fourth quarter charge.
Luke Harangody came off Byron Scott’s bench with a strong effort – notching 15 points, eight boards and a pair of blocked shots. The former Domer’s two free throws with 40 seconds to play tied the game at 93-apiece after Sacramento’s Beno Udrih’s layup put the Kings up by two.
“We battled, we competed, we played hard,” praised Coach Scott. “We’re probably going to be oversized most nights. The only way we can negate that size is by playing hard, being ready and getting into the right positions.”
All five Kings starters scored in double-figures, but they shot just 38 percent as a team – including 24 percent in the closing quarter.
The Cavaliers shot 51 percent on the night and, after being outscored in the paint, 12-0, after one period, went on to top the Kings in the lane, 48-34, the rest of the way.
Byron Scott’s squad will play two more games out West – on Thursday night against Portland and Saturday afternoon against the Clippers – before returning home for five straight.
2. The Cavaliers have now won six straight games over the Kings in Sacramento. The last time the Wine and Gold lost in (what used to be) Arco Arena was January 20, 2005.
3. The Cavaliers faced a pair of old friends on Wednesday. Darnell “D-Block” Jackson, who played part of two seasons with Cleveland, is now a reserve big man for Sacramento. Pooh Jeter, a backup point guard for the Kings, was the Cavaliers second-leading scorer in this year’s Summer League.
4. Samardo Samuels continued his solid stretch as a starter. In seven starts since assuming the starting power forward spot on March 2, Samuels is averaging 14.0 points and 7.2 boards per contest.
5. Daniel Gibson came into Wednesday’s contest sixth in the NBA from beyond the arc at .436. Boobie went 1-for-3 from long distance against the Kings.
6. With rumors swirling about a possible relocation of the Kings to Anaheim, local support to keep the franchise in town – like these billboards – can be seen all around Sacramento. On Wednesday, one fan held up a sign that said: “There’s no 6th man in Anaheim.”
7. Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins – last year’s No. 5 overall pick – is one of league’s top rookie big men, but Samardo gave him big problems in a Summer League game, notching 17 points and six boards and holding Cousins to 3-for-15 shooting.
“I think we’ve both developed as players and learned a lot of things over the last few months,” said Samuels before the rematch. “So it’ll be interesting to see how we’ve both progressed.”
8. Antawn Jamison, likely out for the season after surgery on his left little finger, joined the Cavaliers on the West Coast trip. Baron Davis may rejoin the squad on Thursday night in Portland.
9. In his second game back from a hip injury, rookie Luke Harangody turned in another strong outing, going 6-for-12 from the floor, including 1-of-3 from long distance, and leading the team in blocks.
10. With several Cavaliers’ former college squads in the NCAA Tournament that tips off on Thursday, let the trash talking begin.
In round one, Antawn Jamison’s Tar Heels take on Long Island U, Manny Harris’ Wolverines face Tennessee, and Daniel Gibson’s Longhorns open with Oakland. Baron Davis and Ryan Hollins’ Bruins will battle Michigan State, Samardo Samuels’ Louisville Cardinals face Morehead State and Luke Harangody’s Fighting Irish face Akron on Friday night in Chicago.
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.