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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Cavs fans denied what they deserved

By Marla Published: February 3, 2011

I've cried over an episode of "Laverne and Shirley.''

I've cried over the heart-warming tales on 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'' and ''American Idol.''

But Tuesday night it was the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers who got to me.

As the Cavs took on the Indiana Pacers, Quicken Loans Arena was rocking like it was 2010. The home team had a chance to snap its 21-game losing streak and its followers were pumped.

Kids with Cavalier tatoos on their cheeks jumped up and down. Teens and 20-somethings danced in the aisles. The older gentleman who used to take to the court during timeouts and hoof it to Rick Astley was hoofing again.

At least half the crowd wore Cavs' knit caps with pom-poms on top, the evening's promotional giveaway, and those pom-poms were bouncing.

Granted, the place was perhaps one-third full in the fourth quarter. Some with school-age children bailed at the end of the third period. The Cavs announced the crowd as 18,877, although perhaps half that many showed up. The team's 102-game sellout streak was officially snapped, perhaps forevermore, or at the very least for multiple years of ping-pong ball watching.

These were the people who were fleeced into spending hundreds of dollars to renew season tickets before they learned two-time MVP LeBron James was leaving town. They sat through the "buy one, get one free'' jersey offer at the team shop being hawked on the scoreboard when they'd much rather have a ''buy one, get one free'' ticket offer for next season. Five season-ticket holders played a game during a timeout in which each was guaranteed something. The booby-prize winner received an autographed team basketball. I'd be shooting hoops with that as soon as the snow melts.

But monetary grudges seemed forgotten in the second half against the Pacers. Long-suffering Northeast Ohioans hadn't seen their team win in any major professional sport since Dec. 18.

The Cavs were leading in the closing minutes and the crowd wanted a victory. The crowd wanted to halt history in its tracks, to keep their team from tying the NBA's longest single-season losing streak.

They wanted it more than the five guys on the court.

When Ramon Sessions' bullet pass richocheted off the right shoulder of J.J. Northcutt, er, Hickson, Indiana's 117-112 victory was secured.

"It looked like it hit him right in the chest,'' Cavs coach Byron Scott said.

"Should've caught it,'' Hickson said.

Haven't we heard that one before, although usually from the likes of Northcutt or Braylon Edwards.

In the final 30 seconds of the game, when he had to know that the always driving-to-the-basket Sessions would likely face the defensive presence of 7-footer Roy Hibbert, Hickson didn't seem to be paying attention.

Hickson played 31 minutes and totalled three rebounds to go with his 10 points. By contrast, undrafted rookie Manny Harris played 30 minutes and scored 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds.

Some fans may have left angry. I surely did. Not angry at the outcome or that the Cavs can tie the league record for futility Friday night at Memphis.

I was angry that the hearty souls who gave everything they had to will their team away from its dubious destiny got their hearts trampled once again.

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