Final Dime: Mavericks 99, Cavaliers 96
Ramon Sessions drives for two of his 19 points in Monday's tough loss in Dallas.
Monday’s tough 99-96 loss was frustrating in that the Cavaliers came within seconds of not only avoiding the wrong side of history and knocking off a perennial Western Conference powerhouse in their own gym. Encouraging in that the Wine and Gold again fought tooth-and-nail for four quarters against a superior foe.
The Mavericks came into Monday’s matchup as the hottest club in basketball, winners of eight straight. The Wine and Gold, needless to say, came into the Lone Star State in a bit of a slump.
But the scrappy Cavaliers battled back all night, overcoming a 15-point Mavericks edge and getting a good three-point look with seconds remaining. But Anthony Parker’s three-point attempt drew front iron and, as time expired, Cleveland couldn’t get another shot off – falling for the 25th consecutive occasion – an NBA record.
“We’re not concerned about (the streak) right now,” said Parker. “I think what we are concerned about is the next game. We will go back and look at the film at some things we could do better and at some things we did well and carry that on to the next game.”
Dirk Nowitzki’s jumper with 3:02 to play put the Mavericks up ten – 97-87. But Ramon Sessions scored on a pair of free throws and assisted on the next two buckets – including a three-pointer by Antawn Jamison – and the Cavs found themselves in a one-possession game with 1:41 to play.
Both teams traded misses and J.J. Hickson committed an offensive foul before Dallas’ Jason Terry bottomed-out a pull-up jumper to put Dallas up five. But the Cavs clawed back again, with Hickson following up a Sessions miss to bring Cleveland to within three, 99-96, with 30 seconds remaining.
On the Mavs’ next possession, Sessions stripped Dirk Nowitzki with 9.9 seconds to play, but Anthony Parker’s pull-up three-pointer came up short.
“I have no qualms about the way we played, how hard we played, and again, just like I said to the guys afterwards, we’ve just got to keep playing like that and it’s going to happen,” said Byron Scott. “It’s going to happen real soon.”
The Cavaliers, who fell to 8-44 with the loss, got several strong performances, with four of their five starters tallying double-figure scoring, and three registering double-doubles.
Hickson led the way with 26 points, going 12-for-18 from the floor. Hickson led both squads with 12 boards, five off the offensive glass.
Ramon Sessions kept the pressure on Dallas all night, finishing with 19 points, a game-high 13 assists, six boards and a pair of steals. Sessions committed just a pair of turnovers in nearly 40 minutes of action.
Antawn Jamison followed up with 18 points and 11 boards despite not shooting the ball well from the floor. Christian Eyenga pitched in with 15 points and four boards. Anthony Parker was the only starter not in double-figures, but led everyone with a career-high-tying four steals.
The big discrepancy for the Cavaliers on Monday night came compliments of Dallas’ bench, with Jason Terry’s 23 points led a 60-point effort by Rick Carlisle’s reserves.
The Cavaliers return to The Q on Wednesday night, where they’ll take on their old Central Division rival – the Pistons.
2. Future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki’s career scoring average in 22 games against the Cavaliers is 20.3 ppg – his lowest against any team in the NBA.
3. Only three players in NBA history have tallied 17,000 points, 7,000 rebounds, and 900 3-pointers made, and two of them – Antawn Jamison and Dirk Nowitzki – were on the floor tonight. (The other is Scottie Pippen.)
4. A pair of Cavaliers have some history with the Mavs. Ryan Hollins played in the Big D in 2008-09 after being traded for DeSagana Diop. Antawn Jamison won the Sixth Man trophy after averaging 14.8 ppg off the bench.
5. Anthony Parker is shooting .458 from three-point range since returning from a back injury on January 25.
6. Impressive rookie Christian Eyenga notched his fourth straight game in double-figure scoring.
7. In two games against the Mavericks this season, Ramon Sessions is averaging 19.0 points, 12.5 assists and 6.5 boards per contest.
8. With 5:43 remaining in the third quarter, Anthony Parker sharply deflected a Mavericks’ entry pass near the Cavs bench. Head Coach Byron Scott snagged it, showed the hand and reflexes of a guy with 1224 career steals.
9. Since taking over the center spot on January 9, J.J. Hickson is averaging 14.6 points and 11.0 boards per contest – with eight double-doubles in that span.
10. The Cavaliers came into Monday’s game having played the most road games (29) in the league, but get a big break. They’ll play the remainder of their February games at The Q and don’t hit the road again until a March 4 trip to the Big Apple.