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Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011

Cavaliers put end to frustration

Battle past Clippers in overtime to halt NBA-record losing streak at 26 games

CLEVELAND (AP) Daniel Gibson slipped an expensive gold chain over his head and touched its dangling diamond-studded medallion.

News photo
Futility ends: Cleveland's Ramon Sessions looks to pass against the Clippers in the second quarter on Friday night. The Cavaliers won 126-119 in overtime. AP PHOTO

Looking up at the crush of cameras, he took a deep breath and exhaled.

"I can smile again," he beamed. "It feels pretty good. Winning is a precious feeling."

The losing streak — so long, so embarrassing, so hard to stop — is over.

Finally. Barely.

Nearly two months after it started innocently, the Cavaliers stopped their NBA-record skid at 26 games Friday night with a 126-119 win in overtime against the Los Angeles Clippers, who did all they could to extend Cleveland's winter misery.

The Cavs, who had become a national joke as the losses piled up, won for the first time since Dec. 18 and just the second time in 38 games. They had to go an extra five minutes to ensure they didn't set the mark for the longest skid in pro sports history.

They'll gladly settle with tying the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the worst streak among the four major sports.

It's one they didn't want to own, and they played like it.

"It's a great feeling and great for the morale of this team, this city and these fans," said Antawn Jamison, who matched a season high with 35 points. "It's finally good to get it. We've been working so hard for this. We finally got it."

Jamison made the game's biggest basket, a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left in OT for the Cavs, who may have gotten a favorable call at the end of regulation when J.J. Hickson blocked Baron Davis' potential game-winning layup in the final second.

The Clippers thought he goaltended.

"I can't say what I think about all those things," Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin said. "That was unbelievable. Throughout the whole game, it was just unbelievable. That was the worst home-court advantage I've ever seen. . ."

Gibson scored nine in overtime and Hickson, playing like a man possessed all night in a matchup with Griffin, added 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 3 with 44 seconds left. But Jamison responded by popping outside on an inbounds play and draining his 3 from the left wing to revive the hopes of Cleveland fans, whose emotions soared and dropped by the minute.

The Cavs savored the win by lingering on the floor before heading to the locker room, where they celebrated as if they had won a playoff game.

Griffin had 32 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers.

The Cavs were energized by the return of Mo Williams, who had 17 points and 14 assists in his first game in nearly a month because of a hip injury.

Suns 95, Jazz 83

In Salt Lake City, Steve Nash had 18 points and 10 assists to lift Phoenix over Utah in the Jazz's first game without Jerry Sloan as the head coach in more than 22 years.

The Suns (26-25), who have won four straight against Utah, moved above .500 for the first time since Dec. 7 with their sixth win in seven games, spoiling the debut of new Jazz coach Ty Corbin.

Deron Williams and C.J. Miles each scored 19 points, but short-handed Utah has dropped 11 of 15.

76ers 77, Spurs 71

In Philadelphia, Jrue Holiday scored 27 points and Elton Brand tied his season high with 17 rebounds for the 76ers, who defeated the Spurs for the fourth consecutive season in Philadelphia and remained in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Hornets 99, Magic 93

In Orlando, Willie Green scored 24 points to lead the hosts over the Magic.

David West added 17 points and 17 rebounds as the Hornets snapped a four-game losing streak.

Lakers 113, Knicks 96

In New York, Kobe Bryant scored 33 points in another sensational night at Madison Square Garden as Los Angeles cruised past the struggling Knicks.

Bryant scored 19 in the first quarter and grabbed 10 rebounds for the night despite playing only 29 minutes.

Heat 106, Pistons 92

In Auburn Hills, Mich., Dwyane Wade scored 24 points and LeBron James added 16 points and 10 assists for Miami, which has won eight straight games.

Grizzlies 89, Bucks 86

In Memphis, Mike Conley had 23 points, including a key 3-pointer with 1:12 left, and eight assists as the hosts beat Milwaukee.

Trail Blazers 102, Raptors 96

In Toronto, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 14 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to lead Portland over the Raptors.

Nets 94, Bobcats 89

In Charlotte, Brook Lopez had 31 points and 11 rebounds as New Jersey ended a 12-game road losing streak by defeating the Bobcats.

Pacers 116, Timberwolves 105

In Indianapolis, Dahntay Jones scored all of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to spark the Pacers' big finish against Minnesota.

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Visit The Japan Times' website to read a recap of Saturday's bj-league games.

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