The Cleveland Cavaliers have snapped the longest losing streak in National Basketball Association ( NBA) history. The Cavs defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 126-119 in overtime Friday at home in Cleveland for their first victory in 27 games. The victory spared the Cavaliers from setting the longest skid in North American professional sports history.
Cleveland is at the bottom of the NBA standings with a dismal record of nine wins against 45 losses nearly midway through the season. But after 26 consecutive losses, the Cavaliers seem to have rediscovered their will to win.
J.J. Hickson forced overtime Friday as regulation time expired. He blocked a jump shot of L.A.’s Baron Davis at the buzzer to keep the score tied at 110-110. In the five-minute extra session, Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison hit a key three-point shot with 22 seconds left to put his team up by four. He led all scorers with 35 points for the night.
Clippers guard Davis said they just could not keep pace with the Cavaliers in this one.
"They hit some big shots, some big three’s, and came up with some big plays at the end, and we could never really put them in an uncomfortable stage, and I think they just kept forcing their will, and when [ Antawn] Jamison hit that three, it kind of turned around for them," said Davis.
Cleveland’s renewed energy coincided with the return of star point guard Mo Williams, who was sidelined more than three weeks with a hip injury. He came off the bench to make a game-high 14 assists and score 17 points, including a free throw in the final 13 seconds. Following Williams, Daniel Gibson hit a pair of shots from the line to seal the Cavs’ seven-point triumph.
Gibson said his team’s hard work finally paid off.
"I think we learned from previous games to not give in, to continue to fight, and finish the game the right way," said Gibson.
But in some ways, the Cavaliers’ long-awaited victory was more a deliverance from humiliation than reason to celebrate. Cleveland head coach Byron Scott said his team needs to perform the way it did against the Clippers in every game.
"I told the guys it’s kind of bittersweet," said Scott. "I’m glad that it’s over with, but if we had played this hard last game, we would have won."
On Wednesday, Cleveland’s apathetic 103-94 loss to the Detroit Pistons marked its 26th in a row, and tied the Cavaliers with the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the longest losing streak among the four U.S. major professional sports - basketball, American-style football, baseball and ice hockey.
Two days earlier on Monday, the Cavs set the NBA’s dubious all-time losing streak record with their 25th consecutive defeat.
Scott will see if his players can maintain their winning drive and determination on Sunday when the Cleveland Cavaliers go on the road to face the struggling Washington Wizards.