I'm tired of writing about losses. I took the night off when the Cavs beat the Knicks in overtime last month, meaning I haven't written about a win since Thanksgiving. Seriously.
The last time I wrote about a win was when the Cavs beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 27, two days after I binged on turkey and stuffing.
We've Christmas shopped since then. We've wrapped and unwrapped said Christmas presents since then. We've lit the Menorah since then. We've made New Year's resolutions since then. We've broken said resolutions since then. We've watched LeBron tap dance on the Cavs' heads -- TWICE -- since then. We've honored Martin Luther King since then. We've taught our children to drive, put them through college and married them off since then! For the love of God, I can't write about many more losses before my head explodes.
As I frantically scan the box score and notes to find something -- ANYTHING! -- to write about other than the Cavs' shooting woes, J.J. Hickson's numbers jump out at anyone.
It wasn't very long ago when I wrote that the worst part about this lost season was the lack of development in Hickson. The Cavs were counting on him to take a giant step in production this season. But for the first two months, he was a major, major disappointment. Not anymore.
Maybe it's just coincidence, but I'm convinced the move to center was the best thing that could happen to Hickson. He gets lost sometimes at the 4. He drifts too far out and falls in love too much with that mid-range jumper, which is still sporadic at best right now.
By putting him at center, it forces him to stay around the paint and it simplifies the game. See the ball, go get the ball. Hickson has been seeing it and getting it better than ever. In eight games since replacing Anderson Varejao, he is averaging 11.6 rebounds per game and twice has set career highs. He has grabbed at least 14 rebounds in half of those games.
As long as he's at center, there will always be nights like Friday, when he didn't stand much of a chance against the bigger, more physical Andrew Bogut. Games against guys like Shaq and Dwight Howard could get quite ugly, too. But there are so few true centers in this league that Hickson can hold his own more nights than not. And if he continues to rebound like this, suddenly there is a glimmer of hope in this lost season.
If Hickson can continue to round into the player the Cavs think he can be, suddenly the future isn't quite as bleak. Yes, the Cavs are still years away from truly competing. But Hickson, a healthy Anderson Varejao and a high draft pick (Kyrie Irving? Jared Sullinger?) suddenly provides the Cavs with a little excitement.
It sounds ridiculous to say, since they will likely set the franchise record this month for consecutive losses. If they lose Monday at New Jersey, they probably won't win a game during the entire month of January. The whole purpose of the rest of the season is developing for the future. Hickson is the No. 1 target.
Antawn Jamison 31 points, 11 rebounds
J.J. Hickson 13 points, 20 rebounds
Daniel Gibson 10 points, five assists
Derrick Rose 24 points, eight assists
Luol Deng 20 points, 12 rebounds
Carlos Boozer 20 points, 10 rebounds
Derrick Rose's three-point play with 4:20 left stemmed the Cavs' momentum and turned a two-point deficit into a five-point deficit for the Cavs. Rose scored seven points in the final 4:20.
The Cavs missed their first seven shots in both the second and third quarters.
They said it
"We actually played like we felt we had a chance to win. I think there have been situations where we played well, but we didn't actually believe that we had an opportunity to win. Once we started playing pretty good defense and started moving the ball on the offensive end, we started to get confident as a team. If we continue to play this way, things can go our way.'' -- Antawn Jamison
The Cavs (8-35) are at New Jersey at 7 p.m. on Monday.
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