1. Wednesday night’s matchup between the Nets and Cavaliers wasn’t a thing of beauty. But it was a tight contest that required an extra session to settle.
Unfortunately for the Wine and Gold, those extra five minutes went the Nets way. New Jersey sunk its free throws, capitalizing on Cleveland’s late-game mistakes to take the 98-94 overtime win at The Q.
Neither squad got more than five points from the other in the second half or overtime, and the score was knotted at 80-apiece with less than two minute remaining in regulation. After the two teams traded misses, Anthony Parker canned an 18-footer to give the Cavaliers an 82-80 edge with just 12.1 to play.
But on New Jersey’s next possession, Brook Lopez tipped in his own miss to tie the game at 82 with 4.3 left. Parker attempted to win it, but his 15-footer was wide right to send the game into OT.
In the extra session, the Nets converted just two field goals, but were 11-for-14 from the stripe, with the Wine and Gold racking up nine personal fouls – including a pair of senseless intentional fouls – in the five-minute period.
J.J. Hickson’s layup with 5.8 to play got the Cavaliers to within a deuce, 96-94, but Jersey’s Jordan Farmar sank a pair of free throws to ice the affair.
“Down the stretch, on the offensive end, we just have to do a much better job of executing,” said Coach Scott. “And again, with a young bunch of guys that we have that are inexperienced at being in that situation, this might be a good learning session for us tomorrow.”
Ramon Sessions led both squads, scoring 13 of his 21 points in the second half. Sessions was 7-for-15 from the floor and 7-of-10 from the stripe, adding a season-high eight boards, two assists and a steal.
J.J. Hickson, who moved back to his natural power forward position with the insertion of Ryan Hollins into the starting lineup, doubled-up with 17 points and 17 boards to go with a team-high three steals and a pair of assists.
“(New Jersey) had a couple of open threes, but other than that, I thought we did a solid job defensively,” said Hickson. “We had a couple of breakdowns, but the overall effort was good.”
The only other Cavalier to notch double-figures was Alonzo Gee, who finished with 10 points and a team-high two blocked shots.
The Cavaliers shot just 37 percent from the floor, but held New Jersey to just 34 percent. They outscored the Nets in the paint and on the fast break, but turned the ball over 16 times and drained just two three-pointers of the 12 they attempted.
Every Nets starter notched double-figures and Kris Humphries set an opponent’s arena record with 23 rebounds. Travis Outlaw scored 17 points off Avery Johnson’s bench.
The Cavaliers continue their five-game homestand on Friday night when they welcome John Kuester’s Pistons to The Q.
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2. Since the start of the calendar year, Hickson is one of only six players averaging at least 15 points and 10 boards per contest. Since January 1, the former N.C. State standout is averaging 15.1 points and 10.4 boards per game.
3. J.J. doubled up for the 18th time this season and 22nd time in his career.
4. With Ryan Hollins cracking the starting lineup, Byron Scott has now used 22 different starting lineups this season. It was, however, the first time the Cavaliers have switched up their starting five in the month of March.
5. Citing the need to slow down Brook Lopez – plus his solid play against Orlando’s Dwight Howard on Monday night – Hollins took Samardo Samuels’ place in the starting five. It was Hollins’ fifth start of the year.
6. Baron Davis missed his third straight game with back spasms.
7. Wednesday’s game featured a battle of brothers – kind of. Twins, Joey and Stephen Graham both failed to see action in the overtime affair.
8. Every Cavalier besides Graham saw action and got into the scoring column on Wednesday night. The Cavs bench, which ranks 7th in the NBA at 34.8 ppg, finished with 32 points against New Jersey.
9. The Cavaliers record in overtime this season is now 2-1. Their record against Atlantic Division teams is 7-9.
10. Browns cornerback Joe Haden was back at it again on Wednesday, decked out in a full Cavaliers uniform at his courtside seats. The former Gator donned an Anderson Varejao No. 17 road wine uniform, complete with Wild Thing wig. The guy in the chicken costume two sections over paled by comparison.
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.