Antawn Jamison's 27 points leads Cavaliers past Clippers 99-92
BY EDDIE DILWORTH
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Prior to his team's matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott said he looks at Chris Paul as the best point guard in the NBA. He also, like so many, was anticipating a Wednesday night matchup between Paul and the Cavs promising rookie, Kyrie Irving.
Due to a concussion suffered against Miami the night before, Irving wasn't able to play against Paul and the Clippers. Ramon Sessions and company were there, however, to pick up the slack.
Sessions scored 24 points and added 13 assists in a surprising 99-92 upset of the Clippers at Quicken Loans Arena.
"To come home after a loss last night on a back-to-back night and ask guys to play the way they played, I thought it was fantastic," Scott said.
As the NBA trade deadline nears, Cavs guard Ramon Sessions' name has repeatedly arisen in trade speculation. If Sessions is ultimately to be on the move, he had a full audition for potential suitors Wednesday night and didn't disappoint.
"I thought offensively and defensively, scoring, moving the ball, getting guys involved, he just had one of those games where he took the challenge," Scott said.
Several Cavaliers had solid games against Los Angeles. Antawn Jamison scored a season-high 27 points and added 8 rebounds. Daniel Gibson returned to the lineup after missing the last five games with a neck infection and scored 17 points in a starting role as Anthony Parker continues to be sidelined with a lower back strain.
None of Gibson's points were bigger than the 3-pointer he drained with 1:20 to play in the fourth quarter. The shot sent The Q in an uproar and gave the Cavs a 90-87 lead. Cleveland led 92-87 after two Sessions free throws seconds later, but when Paul connected on two free throws of his own on the Clippers next possession, Los Angeles trailed 92-89 with 53 seconds to play.
As Paul was fouled, Anderson Varejao took a hard tumble to the floor, the second time in the game his hip had made a loud thud sound on the floor. After receiving treatment in the Cavs locker room in the third quarter for a previous fall, Varejao returned and gutted it out in the fourth quarter. A sore tailbone wasn't going to keep Varejao from making an impact.
After Paul's free throws and leading 92-89 with just under 30 seconds remaining, Varejao hobbled down the court just in time to receive a pass from Alonzo Gee and knocked down a 13-foot jump shot. The Cavs led 94-89 after Varejao's shot, but the Clippers weren't done.
Blake Griffin produced a layup plus the foul on the next possession and converted the free throw to bring the Clippers within a 94-92 margin. After Gibson was only able to convert one-of-two free throws seconds later, the Clippers trailed 95-92 with a chance to tie the game. But Clippers guard Randy Foye missed the game-tying 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining and Los Angeles was forced to foul down the stretch.
Varejao's tough and energetic play has not gone unnoticed by his teammates, coaches and the fans.
"Since I got to Cleveland, the fans have taken to me," Varejao said. "I didn't speak any English, but every time I would get in a game, I felt like I had somebody behind me, helping motivate me...
"I feel like my football team is the Browns, my basketball team is the Cavs and my baseball team is the Indians. That's all I know. I feel like I'm from here."
Varejao finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds against Los Angeles.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Caron Butler added 21 points while Paul finished with 16 points and 12 assists.
"We came out flat," Paul said. "I couldn't make a shot. We didn't defend well. This is definitely one of our worst showings."
While Irving versus Paul was the matchup most had anticipated, Sessions was the one who ultimately shined.
"His name was called before the game to be a starter and he responded with a great game and that's all you can ask for," Scott said.
Sessions explained his feelings after finding out he was going to start just prior to tipoff.
"(I) just tried to fill the void of the young fella, who's been playing real well," Sessions said. "(I) just tried to step up and run the team."
Irving's status is listed as day-to-day.
Wednesday night's game was the first in a nine-game home stand for the Cavaliers, the longest in team history. Cleveland welcomes the Milwaukee Bucks to town on Friday.
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