Cavs Drop Nail-Biter in New Jersey

Cleveland Drops OT Thriller Despite Hudson's Heroics
Lester Hudson
Less than a month ago, Donald Sloan was with the Erie Bayhawks; Lester Hudson, with the Austin Toros. On Sunday night, Cleveland’s makeshift backcourt nearly willed the Wine and Gold to an overtime win in New Jersey.

With Kyrie Irving, the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year, back in Cleveland nursing an injured shoulder, the D-League duo has been a revelation to a Cavaliers club that limped into their recent roadie.

Hudson’s heroics sent the Easter Sunday affair to overtime. But his attempt in the extra-session drew back iron, giving the Nets the 122-117 win.

In the final five minutes of Sunday’s thriller, neither team could pull away. New Jersey actually took the biggest lead of that span when Gerald Green canned a three-pointer with 36.7 seconds to play, giving the Nets a 109-106 edge.

On the Cavs’ next possession, Hudson drove the lane and scored. But he was whistled for a charge and New Jersey regained possession. But Manny Harris rebounded an Anthony Morrow miss and brought the ball up-court, feeding Hudson in the left corner. The 6-3 guard – playing on the ninth day of a 10-day contract – splashed home the game-tying trey with 0.3 remaining in regulation.

In the overtime period, New Jersey looked to pull away, extending its lead to seven – 119-112. But a pair of free throws by Alonzo Gee and an Antawn Jamison three-pointer got the Cavs back to within a deuce with 13 seconds to play.

Rookie MarShon Brooks split a pair of free throws, giving the Cavaliers a second life. But Hudson couldn’t connect on a three-point attempt and Gerald Green iced the affair, sinking a pair from the stripe.

“We had chances in overtime, the guys came back, just like in the regular session of the game,” praised Coach Byron Scott. “So I’m just proud of the way we’re playing and how hard we’re playing right now.”

Hudson finished with 26 points off the bench – two nights after dropping 23 on Toronto in a Friday win north of the border. On Sunday, the former Tennessee-Martin star was 9-for-22 from the floor, including 6-of-12 from long-distance.

“Tough loss tonight, we were right there, we just had to reach out and grab it,” said Hudson. “It was a great effort from my teammates. Everybody played well. It was a great team effort tonight, we just came up short.”

His recent cohort, Donald Sloan, was almost as impressive – finishing with a career-high 14 assists to offset a tough shooting night. Sloan did manage to contain Deron Williams – holding the Nets All-Star who’d torched Cleveland this season to just 18 points. Sloan committed just two turnovers in over 45 minutes of play.

Not lost amidst the accomplishments was another excellent performance by veteran Antawn Jamison, who led both teams with 34 points on 12-of-19 shooting. Jamison, who notched 16 points in the fourth quarter of Friday’s dramatic win, was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.

The other two-thirds of Cleveland’s frontcourt – Tristan Thompson and Alonzo Gee – were almost as impressive.

Thompson doubled-up with 15 points and 15 boards, going 7-of-12 from the floor and adding a pair of blocked shots. Gee pitched in with a double-double of his own – tallying 22 points, 11 boards and five assists.

The Cavs had one of their best shooting nights in awhile – going 45 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three-point range. Cleveland totaled 31 assists on Sunday evening.

The Cavs will practice on Monday before embarking on easily their toughest stretch of the season, playing seven games in the next nine nights beginning with a Tuesday night matchup against Charlotte at The Q.

  • Tristan Thompson, who played high school ball at nearby St. Benedict’s, loves playing in his old stomping grounds. In two games against the Nets in Newark, the rookie big is 19-of-28 from the floor.

  • Over his last two games, Antawn Jamison is averaging 29.5 points per contest.

  • The Cavaliers made their last ever stop in New Jersey to face the Nets, who’ll move to Brooklyn after 35 years in the Garden State. Byron Scott, who took the Nets to the Finals twice before being fired 42 games into the 2003-04 season, wasn’t exactly sentimental about the team’s move. He was asked about it three times pregame and had slight variations of the same answer each time.

    “I have no feelings whatsoever, to be honest with you,” said Scott.

  • Anderson Varejao, who traveled with the team on this past trip and did some shooting work when the squad practiced on Saturday afternoon at Humber College in Toronto, is chomping at the bit to return to action.

    “Just because he’s anxious doesn’t mean he’s ready,” said Coach Scott. “We know he’s anxious because he just wants to get out there and play. He told me a couple weeks ago he’s bored – he wants to get out on the court. So again, we’re not going to rush him. If he says it’s a little sore, then we’ll wait and just continue to do what we’ve been doing as far as his rehabilitation goes and we’ll give it a few more days and go from there.”

  • The Cavaliers were 0-12 in Sunday games last year. This year, it’s the only day of the week they’re at .500 or better – now at 4-4. As a franchise, the Cavaliers are now 7-6 on Easter Sundays.