No one would’ve blamed the Cavs for losing to the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Coming off nine straight losses, missing their starting point guard, shooting guard and center and playing without their coach (who got himself thrown out before halftime), it would’ve been easy for this team to sleepwalk through another late season loss.
But Antawn Jamison and newly signed PG Lester Hudson wouldn’t let the Cavs quit. Trailing 63-52 after three periods, Jamison opened the fourth by scoring 15 of the Cavs first 17 points and the Cavs somehow found themselves in a tied 68-68 with six minutes to play.
Thus begins the Legend of Lester Hudson.
The recently signed D-Leaguer, who doesn’t seem to care about the Cavs draft position at all, scored 8 points over the final four minutes to lead the Cavs to their first win against the Raptors in four tries. Jamison’s hot shooting woke up the Cavs and got them back in game and Hudson provided the energy the they needed to close it out. Hudson finished with 23 points, seven assists, three steals, two boards and just one turnover in 32 minutes and he hit all six of his free throws down the stretch.
Some random thoughts after the jump.
– The Raptors seemed stunned that this turned into a game and I can’t blame ’em. The Cavalier five to start the fourth was Manny Harris, Lester Hudson, Alonzo Gee, Antawn Jamison and Samardo Samuels, I think we’re all surprised that Cleveland managed to come back from double-digits.
– This was not a well played game. Not that this should surprise you, given that the Cavs’ crunch time lineup was four undrafted guys and a washed up guy who doesn’t play defense, and the Raptors managed to blow a double-digit lead at home against that impressive lineup, but neither team looked particularly good. Omri Casspi was jumping into and fouling shooters 30 feet from the hoop, Linus Kleiza was shooting step-back threes and Samardo Samuels was fouling and giving up and-ones with 30 seconds left.
– I am not sad that this was the last time I’ll get to watch Andrea Bargnani abuse Antawn Jamison.
– The Cavs didn’t get much out of either Tristan Thompson (six points, four boards) or Alonzo Gee (nine points, seven boards). I felt both looked rushed at times. However, I can’t imagine it is an easy transition from playing with point guards Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions to three guys who weren’t on the team a month ago.
– The Cavs didn’t really do much damage to their draft position with this win. Their winning percentage of .340 currently gives them the fourth best draft odds and fourth is about as “good” as they’ll get. They can tank all they want, they’re not going to “catch” Washington, New Orleans or Charlotte.
– That being said, after Anthony Parker’s back flared up immediately following his 27 point explosion, I fully expect Lester Hudson to develop a severe chest cold and have to miss the next three games.
– But if you want the Cavs to tank and are upset that they beat a fellow lottery team, don’t worry, just look at this schedule. Cleveland plays a back-to-back-to-back next Friday through Sunday (at Indiana, at Washington and Orlando at home)… and they have three more games in between now and Friday. That’s insane.
– And for the record, I don’t think the Cavs are actually tanking, regardless of the merits. I just don’t think they’re very good. This is a team full of projects and guys like Mr. Lester Hudson looking to find a full-time NBA job. These games can still be useful (hopefully one of the trio of Hudson, Donald Sloan and Manny Harris can turn into a Real NBA Point Guard), but I can’t blame GM Chris Grant for giving guys like Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and (heh) Anthony Parker plenty of time to heal from their respective injuries.
– The Cavs next game is Sunday evening in New Jersey at 6pm.