The Cleveland Cavaliers are finally discovering the key to success. Just take every game to overtime.
Finally, the Cavs have snapped their historic 26-game losing streak by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers in overtime, 126-119. The Cavs last win came against the New York Knicks, in overtime, which snapped a 10-game losing streak.
Eerily similar to the last win too, was the way the game got to the extra frame. Just like against the Knicks, Mo Williams -- who was making his much needed return to the team after missing 13 games with a left hip flexor injury -- made a big shot with 6.3 seconds left to tie the game at 110-110.
Of course everyone could feel it coming. A somehow packed arena was anticipating yet another letdown. When you lose 26 straight, you start inventing new ways to come up short. And everyone could sense yet another heartbreak.
Except this time, the Cavs got a big play. Baron Davis drove left and had a decent left-handed runner at the rim, but J.J. Hickson denied the shot at the buzzer. It was almost definitely goaltending, but finally, this Cleveland team got a few breaks. Almost like it was meant to be, naturally those breaks went against the Clippers. Oh, how so very fitting.
In overtime, the Cavs went up six, 120-114 with a minute left. Everything appeared to be in the bag. But then the Clips ripped off five quick points, punctuated by a Randy Foye 3-pointer. Again, here we go again. The Cavs needed a basket badly because the Clips were coming and it almost seemed like Cleveland could do anything but lose.
Instead, good fortune struck again. Williams drove baseline and caught all air on a layup attempt. Ryan Gomes appeared to have the rebound secured for L.A., but Hickson came flying over his back, forcing the ball out of bounds off Gomes. Instead of a huge foul on Hickson, the Cavs had possession and a big break. The ball went in to Antwan Jamison who calmly drilled a 3, essentially locking things up for Cleveland.
It had been 55 days since the last Cavalier win. Think about that. Fifty-five days since this team had experienced how it felt to win. The Cavs own the NBA's longest losing streak in history, but have avoided setting a new mark for longest losing streak for all four major American professional sports. They now share that distinction with the 1976-77 Tampa Bat Buccaneers.
A few notes about the losing streak:
- Now with nine wins on the season, we can end all talk about the Cavs tying the 76ers worst record of all time of 9-73
- The Cavs lost by an average of 13.6 points per game during the 26-game streak
- The Cavs lost just one game by one point and only five games by six or less.
- The Lakers beat the Cavs by 55 points in one game during the streak.
- Cleveland was defeated by at least double-digits 14 times.
- Here's how bad the bottom of the East is: The Cavs are just 15 games out of eighth. And I don't think anyone is completely certain it couldn't happen.
There was a lot made about LeBron James' return to Cleveland and following that, this team dropped 10 straight. Then they won, but lost 26 more. It's hard to deny that LeBron's return had some kind of affect on the team, but on top of that, injuries to Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams killed them. Losing your two best players when your team lacks talent in general, really hurts.
Now the next step for this team is winning a game in regulation. Because that hasn't happened since Nov. 27. The Cavs have lost 36 straight in the first 48 minutes. Ouch.
But don't you dare go to overtime with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Because you've got no chance.