CLEVELAND: As this condensed season neared its finish, Antawn Jamison spoke as if he was leaving the Cavaliers, but always left open at least the small possibility he might return.
Following Wednesday’s 96-85 loss to the Washington Wizards, Jamison said his goodbyes to Cleveland. He won’t be back next season.
“It’s time for me to move on,” Jamison said. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I definitely have a great feeling this is probably my last home game and [tonight] will be my last game as a Cav.”
Jamison played less than 17 minutes on Wednesday and scored 10 points, the only Cavs starter to reach double figures on a night coach Byron Scott cleared the bench.
Alonzo Gee was the only starter to play more than 20 minutes and D.J. Kennedy, signed last week out of the Development League, played nearly 31 minutes in his NBA debut.
As teams at the bottom of the standings and top of the draft lottery jockey for position at the end of the season, the Cavaliers picked the night the second-worst team came to town to limit all of their starters’ minutes.
Kyrie Irving was diagnosed with the stomach flu early Wednesday, skipped the team’s morning shootaround and was initially listed as doubtful. But he said after the game he felt 100 percent and attributed the sickness to bad food. He took part in the pregame routine and told Scott he wanted to play on Fan Appreciation Night, so Scott conceded by allowing him to play less than 10 minutes in the first quarter and sitting him the rest of the night.
Scott also confirmed Irving will sit out tonight’s finale at Chicago.
“Coach Scott told me before the game I was going to get 10 minutes and I got 9:47,” Irving said. “He owes me 13 seconds.”
The loss dropped the Cavaliers into a three-way tie with the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Hornets for the league’s third-worst record. The Kings conclude the season tonight by hosting the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Hornets finish up at the Houston Rockets.
The Cavaliers have lost four consecutive games and 18 of their past 22. They flat-out benched Jamison when these two teams played in Washington earlier this month because they said he needed a rest. It remains the only game Jamison has missed this season, but the Cavaliers still won the game when Luke Harangody had the game of his NBA life.
It remains the last time the Wizards lost. They’ve won five in a row since.
It might seem suspicious that Irving fell ill on a night the Wizards were in town, but Scott insisted he truly was sick.
“Maybe it does [seem suspicious],” Scott said. “I guess if you are not close to the situation, a lot of people around the country might think so. But it’s legit.”
With Irving sidelined for the final three quarters, Wizards point guard John Wall had 21 points and 13 assists, falling two assists shy of his career high while Donald Sloan tried to defend him most of the night.
The Wizards took a four-point lead into the half and held it throughout the second half, extending the lead to as many as 17 points in the easy victory.
Kennedy led the Cavs with 12 points.
“I got to see what I wanted to see,” Scott said, adding that it’s difficult to bench starters and take extended looks at backups, but it’s in the best interest of the organization. About half the roster is either a free agent after the season or will begin next season on a non-guaranteed deal.
“Right now we have some pieces we feel real comfortable about and we have a lot of guys who are free agents going into next season we have to make decisions on,” Scott said. “I really want them to feel when this season is over that they had a golden opportunity. They had every opportunity to show me exactly what they can do. And I think I’ve given guys enough opportunities and I’m trying to make sure these last games to do the same thing so when they do walk away, they can’t ever say I was never given an opportunity.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.