J.J. Hickson's big night came at the perfect time. With Boston and Miami headed to Cleveland next week, the Cavs need more than 5 or 6 points and 2 or 3 rebounds from Hickson if they have any chance at victory.
Hickson worked all summer on his jumper and seems to have fallen in love with it a little too much. He's out on the wings more often than he probably should be and not banging around enough in the post. Yet there Hickson was again in the first quarter on Saturday clanking jumpers from the wings.
It wasn't until the second half that he started getting active around the glass, started running a little and was the beneficiary of Mo Williams pushing the tempo and finding a streaking Hickson. Those few dunks seemed to get Hickson going in the right direction.
That shouldn't be much of a surprise. Hickson was at his best last season when he was playing under the rim, and LeBron James could drive and dump to him or Hickson could benefit from some rebounds and putbacks. But his lack of fundamentals in rebounding were hidden a bit last season since the Cavs had so many other players who could do it consistently. That's not the case this year. The Cavs MUST get consistent boards from Hickson or he'll continue to sit in the fourth quarter.
He was the beneficiary of a perfect storm on Saturday. Hickson was active both on the glass and defensively, he was running the floor well and Antawn Jamison was really struggling to find his stroke (2 of 10 from the floor). That left Hickson to return for the game's final four minutes. It may not sound like much, but Hickson was exhausted from playing about nine minutes in the third quarter and needed the rest. Plus, the game was close when Byron Scott reinserted him -- unlike previous fourth quarters, when Hickson was merely filling up garbage time.
The key for Hickson, as always, will be to repeat the performance and effort again and again. If the key in golf is to repeat your swing over and over, then Hickson is a weekend hacker with a plus-30 handicap. He seems to get too pleased with his performances a little too quickly and stops working as hard in all facets as he needs to consistently be great.
And make no mistake, the tools are there for Hickson to be great. He just has to want it. REALLY want it. Then work at it until he gets it. But the tools, no doubt, are there.
Mo Williams 25 points, 12 assists
J.J. Hickson 16 points, 5 rebounds
Anderson Varejao 11 rebounds
Joey Graham 12 points
Rudy Gay 17 points
Mo Williams fueled a 16-0 run in the third quarter to turn a six-point halftime deficit into a 75-67 lead entering the fourth quarter.
He said it
"He played exactly how we wanted him to play. All out effort, getting up and down the floor." -- Coach Byron Scott on J.J. Hickson
J.J. Hickson had 16 points, his first game in double figures since Nov. 13 against Indiana.
* The Cavs have won nine of their last 10 games against the Grizzlies, including seven straight at the Q. The Cavs haven't lost to the Grizzlies in Cleveland since Nov. 29, 2003 in double overtime.
* The Cavs set a season high with nine blocks and held the Grizzlies to 42 percent shooting for the game.
* The Grizzlies shot 64 percent from the floor in the first quarter, but went just 22 of 63 (35 percent) the rest of the way.