Cavs Rally Past Raptors

Jamison's Big Fourth Snaps Skein at Nine
Antawn Jamison
Carrying a nine-game losing streak, playing away from home with their leading scorer back in Cleveland, facing a team that’s had their number without their head coach for the second half, it’s fair to say the Cavs had some dragons to slay on Friday night.

They did.

You can also include a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and a pair of point guards that weren’t with the team until late March. These factors wouldn’t seem to add up to a Cavaliers’ victory, but the Wine and Gold defied the odds to notch the thrilling 84-80 win on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre.

Antawn Jamison put the team on his back in the fourth quarter, netting 16 of his game-high 25 points in the final period – (including 15 of those in the first half of the final period).

With Cleveland trailing 64-51, Jamison caught fire – drilling three three-pointers in just over three minutes to tie the affair at 66-apiece. A pair of Cavalier youngsters – Samardo Samuels and Lester Hudson – took over from there, combining for 14 fourth-quarter points.

Eventually, the Cavs built their lead to seven with 40 seconds to play before holding off a Raptors’ rally to get their first win since March 19.

“It’s all about competing from day one, and I thought we got away from that the last week or so,” said Byron Scott. “And the last couple games we got back to that. And I’ve said all season long – if we compete, we have a chance to win basketball games. If we don’t compete, we have no chance. And our last two games, I thought we competed.”

The Cavaliers had an edge to them right from the opening tip, and that edge sharpened when Coach Scott was ejected with 53 seconds remaining in the first half.

Scott had stared down referee Kane Fitzgerald after a pair of no-calls and had some words for him on the Cavaliers’ end of the floor. But he wasn’t overly-animated and barely raised his voice when Fitzgerald whistled him for his first tech. The second one came quickly after – and a then-animated Scott was shown the door.

Assistant Paul Pressey took over for the remainder of the game.

The Cavaliers shot just 3-for-19 in the third quarter and it looked like the losing streak would continue. But Jamison’s heroics turned the tide and lifted the Wine and Gold to the win.

On the night, Jamison finished with a team-high 25 points, going 8-for-16 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from long-distance. The 13-year vet added eight boards and a pair of blocked shots. He nearly outscored the entire Raptors team in the fourth quarter.

“I was looking at the third quarter and I was like: I thought we were close to a record or something – we couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean,” quipped Jamison. “But it showed the type of character we have. We showed it the other night in Milwaukee. We stayed positive, we stayed poised. We kept our heads up and tonight we were able to get the win.”

Lester Hudson, signed to a 10-day contract on March 30, followed up with a career-high 23 points – going 6-of-14 from the floor and 11-of-13 from the stripe, including the critical final four free throws of the night.

The only other Cavalier in double-figures was Samardo Samuels, who added 10 points and seven boards – six and five of those, respectively, in the fourth quarter.

The Cavaliers outscored Toronto, 33-17, in the final period – overcoming a night where they shot just 34 percent from the floor and 72 percent from the line.

The Raptors out-rebounded Cleveland and had the advantage in points in the paint, but the Cavs point guard duo of Hudson and Donald Sloan – subbing for an injured Kyrie Irving – committed just a single turnover between them.

The Cavaliers – who finally defeated Toronto after dropping the first three matchups this season – wrap up their three-game roadie with an Easter Sunday meeting with the Nets in New Jersey.

  • Byron Scott got his first ejection as coach of the Cavaliers, but apparently not without getting his point across. After hitting the showers, the Cavs made 29 trips to the line, compared to 15 for Toronto.

    “I thought both techs were extremely quick,” said Scott after Friday’s win. “I didn’t complain outrageously. I just said I thought if you’re going to call those calls down there, you have to call them up here. And I got a tech for that. And I thought that was just ridiculous.”

  • Manny Harris got his first start of the season on Friday, his 16th in two seasons with the Cavaliers. Anthony Parker missed the matchup with Toronto after suffering a bruised sternum during his 27-point performance in Milwaukee.

  • Here’s how the Cavaliers’ rookie duo ranks with less than three weeks to play in the 2011-12 season: Kyrie Irving is tops in scoring (18.8), free throw percentage (.873) and three-point percentage (.414), ranking second in assists (5.7), third in minutes (31.4) and fourth in field goal percentage (.468). Tristan Thompson is tops in total offensive rebounds (139) and total boards (286), second in rebounding average (6.2) and third in blocks per game (1.02).

  • On Friday night, the shorthanded Cavaliers started three undrafted players and two players selected with the No. 4 overall pick. The two No. 4 picks (Tristan Thompson and Antawn Jamison) also have Toronto connections. Thompson was born here; Jamison was the Raptors’ top selection in 1998 before being traded for his college roommate, Vince Carter.

  • After going with the same starting lineup for the first 18 games of the season, Bryon Scott’s been forced to used 13 different starting combinations since.

  • Toronto native Tristan Thompson, who got a warm ovation during starting lineups, is shooting .679 from the stripe since turning 21 years old on March 13.

  • With Friday night’s 114-103 win over the Erie Bayhawks, the Cavs D-League affiliate Canton Charge clinched a playoff spot in their first year of existence. Both teams stand at 27-22 and meet for the regular season finale on Saturday night at the Canton Civic Center.