A New Expression of Wine and Gold
David Liam Kyle
“This is home,” asserted Jamario Moon, following Tuesday’s 87-72 preseason win over Charlotte. “We were anxious to get in here and show people that basketball is still alive in Cleveland.”
After the ugly events that unfolded at The Q just five months earlier, that statement doesn’t seem completely farfetched. But the Wine and Gold – albeit a new expression – showed an energetic crowd that basketball is indeed still alive on the corner of Huron and Ontario.
In their first appearance as the new-look Cavs, Byron Scott’s young team had more hunger – and fresher legs – in the second stanza at The Q, holding to the listless Bobcats to just 25 second-half points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
Still experimenting with different lineups, the Cavaliers led 27-17 after one quarter. Charlotte turned the tables on Cleveland in the second quarter, but that was their last hurrah on Tuesday. Cleveland notched 27 more points in the third quarter, while completely clamping down on the Bobcats after intermission.
Despite not shooting that well from the floor, Gibson led the Wine and Gold to their second-half surge. Boobie finished with 12 of his game-high 18 points in the second half. He finished 4-for-10 from the field, but was a perfect 10-of-10 from the stripe.
“We have a lot of guys who are capable of handling the ball,” explained the former Longhorn. “And this offense has so much equal opportunity that on any given night you’ll have a different guy leading the stat line or leading the stat line in rebounding.”
But Gibson wasn’t the only hero in Tuesday’s win.
J.J. Hickson bullied his way to 17 points, going 5-for-13 from the floor and 7-of-10 at the line. The third-year pro from N.C. State added nine boards and a blocked shot, spending most of the fourth quarter at the five.
“I love the flexibility we have with J.J. being able to play the five and the four,” praised Byron Scott. “I liked his aggressiveness. It’s just a matter of keeping his focus every night. I think he can have a breakout season, it’s just a matter of him understanding what we’re doing on both ends.”
“Even though it’s preseason, guys tend to coast during the game, but I don’t think we wasted any time,” added Hickson. “We are getting into it right now. We aren’t wasting any time, we are getting after it and we are trying to make a statement.”
On the defensive end, it was high-flying forward Jamario Moon who stole the show – posting game-highs with 10 boards, four steals and three blocked shots. For the game, Cleveland dominated Charlotte on the boards, 59-45.
Coach Scott went with a starting lineup of Joey Graham, Ramon Sessions, Antawn Jamison, Ryan Hollins and Anthony Parker. The former Coach of the Year spoke pregame of his desire to give one group a good run in Tuesday’s exhibition and do the same for another group on Thursday.
Sessions led both squads with five assists and was one of two Cavaliers in double-figures with 11 points. Parker added 10 points on an efficient 4-for-5 shooting night. Graham added six points, five boards and a pair of assists and Hollins was 3-for-4 from the floor. Jamison was the only starter that struggled, but 864 games over a 12-year career indicate that his 1-for-9 night won’t be a recurring problem.
Neither team shot well, but Charlotte was an anemic 32 percent from the floor, including 20 percent from beyond the arc and just 62 percent from the stripe.
The Cavaliers will practice on Wednesday before welcoming John Wall and the Wizards to town for their second preseason contest.
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.