When Ramon Sessions received news that Kyrie Irving was going to be sidelined with a concussion, he knew the Cavaliers would need him to rise to the occassion.
He did in a major way.
Starting in place of Irving, Sessions had career highs in points (24) and assists (13). He scored seven points in the fourth quarter to help the Cavs hang on for a 99-92 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back.
In 39 minutes, 23 seconds of playing time, Sessions shot 9-of-16 (56.2 percent) from the field. He made two free throws with 56.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, giving the Cavs a five-point lead. He repeatedly attacked the Clippers' defense and defended well against Chris Paul.
But Sessions wasn't the only one who helped fill the void.
In his first game since Jan. 27, Daniel Gibson also played solid defense against Paul, helping limit him to 16 points. Gibson, who missed the previous five games with a soft tissue infection in his neck, started and played 35 minutes, 36 seconds. He scored 17 points and made a 3-pointer that broke a tie and put the Cavs ahead for good with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter.
Forward Antawn Jamison led the Cavs (10-14) with a season-high 27 points, including seven points in the fourth quarter, to go along with eight rebounds. Jamison, though, made his final field goal with 5:22 left in the final quarter. Meanwhile, Sessions and Gibson shined in crunch time.
Cavs center Anderson Varejao suffered a bruised back and left the game with 9:32 left in the third quarter, but he returned in the fourth quarter. He finished with 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. He also took a shove in the back from forward Blake Griffin while running the floor. Griffin, who led the Clippers (15-8) with 25 points and 15 rebounds, fouled out with 6.6 seconds left.
There is no timetable for Irving's return. He is listed as day-to-day. Although his injury is certainly not good news for the Cavs, at least they know they have other players, including Sessions, who are capable of stepping up when needed.
Clippers forward Caron Butler missed a 3-pointer that could have tied the score with 9.8 seconds left. In the final 9.2 seconds, Gibson and swingman Alonzo Gee made two free throws apiece to seal the Cavs' win.
The Cavs have won their past 10 home games against the Clippers, including one last season in which they snapped an NBA-record, 26-game losing streak. ... The Cavs are now 3-4 this season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
“Phenomenal. He put the pressure on them offensively with pick and rolls, and he was able to drive and create shots. He had some big shots. Defensively, he made it tough for Chris Paul. This is what he's capable of doing, and it's great to see that when his time was called, he was ready to come in and pick up the slack.” — Jamison on Sessions
“It was definitely a physical game. But I felt like we manned up, and we got a good win.” — Sessions
“They're a resilient bunch of guys. (Our win over) Dallas was pretty much the same way. To come home after a loss (to the Miami Heat on Tuesday night) and ask guys to play the way they played, I thought it was fantastic.” — Cavs coach Byron Scott
The Cavs (10-14) host the Milwaukee Bucks (11-14) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
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