Cavaliers celebrate end of historic skid
CLEVELAND - Antawn Jamison came to Cleveland last season in a trade with dreams of one day making a big shot to win a championship - the one he's never gotten, the one this title-starved town has obsessed over for more than four decades.
On Friday night, Jamison made his biggest shot for the Cavaliers. It wasn't what he imagined. Then again, hardly anything has gone Cleveland's way since the summer.
Jamison's three-pointer with 22 seconds left helped the Cavs end an NBA-record 26-game losing streak with a 126-119 win over the Clippers, who if not for a controversial call going against them would have sent Cleveland into greater infamy.
"That was probably the biggest three that I've had here, due to the situation, the scenario, the importance of getting a win for the morale of this team, this city and these fans," Jamison said. "We've been working so hard for this. We finally got it." Just.
The Cavs ended a nearly two-month losing streak that included several near-misses and an epic 55-point loss to the Lakers. Along the way, Cleveland, still smarting from LeBron James' departure as a free agent in July, was again in the spotlight for its sports misery.
But for one wintry night, everything was right once more in a city without a pro sports title since 1964.
"I can smile again," said Cavs guard Daniel Gibson, who scored nine points in overtime. "It feels pretty good. Winning is a precious feeling." The losing streak - so long, so embarrassing, so hard to stop - is over.
The Cavs, who had become a late-night TV laughingstock as the losses piled up, won for the first time since Dec. 18 and just the second time in 38 games.
They may have gotten a favorable call in the final seconds of regulation when Cleveland's J.J. Hickson blocked Baron Davis' potential game-winning layup. The Clippers thought Hickson goaltended.
Hickson, playing like a man possessed all night in a matchup with Blake Griffin, the powerful Los Angeles forward, had 27 points and 14 rebounds.
The Clippers made the Cavs (9-45) sweat out every second.
Down by six, Los Angeles cut it to 120-119 on Randy Foye's three with 44 seconds left. But Jamison responded by alertly popping outside on an inbounds play and draining his three from the left wing. After Foye's three rattled in and out with 14 seconds remaining, Gibson was fouled and Davis was ejected for arguing.
Gibson made the technical and dropped two more free throws to put the Cavs up seven. When Los Angeles misfired on its last trip, Cavs forward Jamario Moon grabbed the loose ball and held it high as the clock ticked off the precious last seconds.
The final horn sounded, but was drowned out by Cleveland's fans as wine-and-gold streamers and confetti that had been sitting high above Quicken Loans Arena since a week before Christmas tumbled down. Moments later, the anthem "Cleveland Rocks" shook the building.