Short-Handed Cavaliers Trip Clippers at The Q
David Liam Kyle
With Kyrie Irving a late scratch after suffering from concussion-like symptoms mere minutes before the game, the Cavaliers resorted to Ramon Sessions. And all Sessions did was notch season-highs in points and assists, leading the Wine and Gold to the tough 99-92 win on Wednesday at The Q.
Already down Anthony Parker and Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers took on a Clippers team that had won six of their last seven. Billed as the eagerly-anticipated battle between Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, it was the makeshift backcourt of Boobie Gibson and Sessions that set the tone.
The chippy contest was knotted at the half, 40-40. The Cavaliers came out swinging after intermission and built their lead to as many as 15 late in the third. But the Clippers cut Cleveland’s lead to six by the end of the quarter and tied the ballgame at 73-apiece with 7:46 to play.
It was back-and-forth from there. L.A. tied the game again with just over two minutes to play. But Boobie canned a three-pointer from the left corner that put the Wine and Gold ahead to stay.
“They’re a resilient bunch of guys,” praised Coach Scott. “To come home after a loss last night on a back-to-back and ask guys to play the way they played, I thought it was fantastic.”
Antawn Jamison led both teams with a season-high 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting – adding eight boards, three helpers and a blocked shot.
“Tonight (the Clippers) did a great job as far as starting the first quarter, but we held our composure, we stood our ground” said Jamison. “We’re a team that will fight back. Nothing dirty, but we’re not going to let you push us around. We do a good job as far as playing physical basketball, but also do it the right way.”
Sessions followed up with 24 points and a game-high 13 assists, outdueling his All-Star counterpart all evening. In 40 minutes of action, Sessions went 9-of-16 from the floor, including 2-of-4 from long distance and 4-of-4 from the stripe.
Gibson, who returned after missing the last five games with a soft tissue infection in his neck, was almost as impressive – netting 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting and taking turns trying to flummox Chris Paul.
Anderson Varejao turned in another day at the office – doubling-up with 15 points and 11 boards – pausing in-between to nurse a bruised back that resulted from a hard fall early in the third quarter. The Wild Thing returned to play the entire fourth period, hitting his only shot – a huge 13-footer with 29 seconds remaining to give Cleveland a two-possession lead.
The Cavaliers shot 51 percent from the floor and held the “Lob City” Clippers to just a single fastbreak bucket on the night.
After a day off, the Cavaliers’ extended homestand continues on Friday night when they welcome Brandon Jennings and the Bucks to The Q.
“The first I heard of it was about 40 minutes before the game,” explained Coach Scott. “(Irving) went out and warmed up and said his head felt like it was on fire. (Cavaliers medical staff) gave him a concussion (evaluation) and we will continue to re-evaluate him each and every day to see how he’s doing. He says he’s doing fine, he feels good. Our policy is to never put a player at risk or put him out there when we feel anything is going on with him.”
“It’s always fun having a teammate of yours being able to participate with you, something you can share,” smiled Thompson, who’s still nursing a sprained left ankle. “And you can write another chapter in our book together.”