Who would have guessed at the start of the season that in April, the Cavs' most exciting player would be ... Lester Hudson? Or that the point guard dishing out 14 assists would be Donald Sloan?
Hudson and Sloan are the types of players teams like the Cavaliers have to find in order to expedite the rebuilding process. They're cheap, they can fill a role and they don't come with the price tag of a draft pick. All they need is an opportunity to prove they belong.
Hudson was special Sunday with 26 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter. He had that look in his eye early in the game when he scored eight points within his first two minutes on the floor, but foul trouble slowed his momentum until the fourth quarter.
Watching Hudson swish the 3-pointer from the corner reminded me of a game at the Prudential Center last season, when the Cavs lost another thriller after Daniel Gibson missed a 3-pointer from the exact spot where Hudson made his on Sunday.
Gibson sat on the court, motionless, following the miss last season. He was crushed because it came as part of the losing streak that eventually reached 26 games. If that goes in, the Cavs never make history with that losing streak.
So what does Gibson have to do with Hudson? Plenty. The two players are fairly similar in both size and ability. Both are instant offense guys off the bench, except that Gibson struggled to find his stroke this season and shot a career-worst 35 percent from the floor.
I don't see how the Cavs have room for both Gibson and Hudson next season. Gibson has a partially guaranteed contract for next season, but money won't play into this. The Cavs have plenty of room under the salary cap next year, and while Hudson certainly would be cheaper, Dan Gilbert isn't concerned with saving a buck.
Age doesn't matter, either. Hudson, in fact, is older than Gibson by 18 months.
If Hudson is going to stick beyond this season, he'll have to improve defensively. It has shown to be his biggest weakness to this point and coach Byron Scott is really impressing on this young team the importance of playing defense.
Scott has called Gibson his best perimeter defender for two years running and the front office loves his character and attitude. That means Hudson has a long road ahead of him to make this team next season, but if he keeps shooting the ball like he is, he's going to make it awfully hard on the Cavs to turn him away.
(* - season high, ^ - career high)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison 34 points*, Lester Hudson 26 points^, Donald Sloan 14 assists^, Tristan Thompson 15 points, 15 rebounds
Nets: Gerald Green 32 points*, Anthony Morrow 24 points, Deron Williams 18 points, 10 assists, Kris Humphries 16 points, 11 rebounds
Lester Hudson has scored 49 points in his last two games. The only other Cavs players to total that many points in consecutive games are Jamison and Kyrie Irving.
The Nets built a 119-112 lead in overtime and held on despite missing their final five shots of the night.
“I’m pretty sure Lester will be in a Cavaliers uniform for the rest of the year. Especially the last two games, he’s been fantastic. I’m happy for him because he plays so hard, he’s a good kid and he gave us a chance again tonight.” -- Cavs coach Byron Scott. Lester was playing on the final day of a 10-day contract
The Cavaliers (18-36) host the Charlotte Bobcats (7-47) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.
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