Cavaliers 106, Warriors 104, OT
It rattled in and out at the buzzer, sending LeBron James home with an improbable victory—but the Warriors’ exhilarated new players felt a bit like winners as well.
James scored 32 points and Larry Hughes had 15 as the Cavaliers put an impressive finish on their seven-game trip with a 106-104 victory Saturday night.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Cavaliers snapped a three-game losing streak by rallying from an 18-point halftime deficit in their fourth game in five nights.
With solid second-half defense and just enough LeBron offense, Cleveland spoiled the entertaining Golden State debuts of Jackson, Al Harrington and Sarunas Jasikevicius, who arrived in an eight-player trade with Indiana on Wednesday.
“In the second half, it was like night and day,” James said. “We just dug down and did what we’ve been doing. Before the three-game losing streak, that’s what we were doing. We were getting stops, and we found a way to win.”
James’ teammates and coach praised his leadership through the tense final minutes. With their remarkable rally, the Cavaliers remained in a first-place tie atop the Eastern Conference with Washington while staying a half-game ahead of Detroit in the Central Division.
But the Warriors gave out plenty of mutual praise as well after a thrilling peek at what their new players will provide to a team dreaming of its first playoff appearance in 13 years.
“I like the pieces that we have now,” coach Don Nelson said. “That was a glimpse of the way we can play. Now it’s up to me to put guys in a position where they can succeed and not fail.”
Jackson scored a season-high 29 points and Harrington had 14 points and 12 rebounds on a poor shooting night, but the Warriors’ newcomers couldn’t overcome the absence of guard Baron Davis, who served a one-game suspension for allegedly throwing a punch in Golden State’s previous game.
Golden State fans had to be encouraged by their new players’ debut. Harrington and Jackson took the court in the Warriors’ starting lineup to raucous cheers from the Oakland crowd that had grown weary of traded regulars Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy.
By the end, Harrington and Jackson were weary from the Warriors’ up-tempo style, but thrilled by the freedom of Nelson’s offense.
“I know I was 4-for-21, but that was the most fun I’ve had in my pro career,” Harrington said. “I love playing that style. I apologized to my teammates … because if I’d made three or four more shots, we’re probably be in here smiling.”
After starting and ending their biggest West Coast road trip in Northern California, the Cavaliers will play nine of their next 11 games at home— including a rematch with the Warriors in 10 days. The Cavs will travel west of Texas just once more this season: a two-game trip right before the All-Star break.
“We could have easily rolled over and quit, but our guys decided to come out in the second half and play the type of basketball we’re capable of,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “I’ve said this a million times: It wasn’t about our offense. If we defend, which we did in the second half … we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Golden State missed its first eight shots of overtime, and James scored five points before Jasikevicius’ 3-pointer pulled the Warriors within two. James fumbled the ensuing inbounds pass, but then stripped the ball from Golden State’s Matt Barnes on a drive to the hoop.
David Wesley missed two free throws to give the Warriors one last chance, but Jackson’s 3-pointer barely missed.
“I still have to learn all the plays and get a feel for everyone,” said Jackson, who also had season highs of seven rebounds and five steals. “I could easily tell that the fans here appreciate basketball, and I’m going to give 110 percent for them.”
Jasikevicius had 10 points and four assists while playing 20 minutes in his debut, and Ellis had 16 points and eight assists in Golden State’s first overtime game of the season. Josh Powell, the fourth player acquired, didn’t play.
The NBA suspended Davis earlier Saturday for apparently taking a swing at Clippers guard Quinton Ross on Wednesday, though the Warriors were decidedly unhappy with the league’s interpretation of the incident.
Harrington will wear No. 3 at Golden State, and Jackson has Murphy’s former No. 1—which also was worn by Manute Bol and Muggsy Bogues. … In a bizarre coincidence, the Warriors also played a home game against Cleveland on Jan. 20 of last year—and Davis also was suspended for that game, for slugging Seattle’s Luke Ridnour.