NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers have found a new scoring threat in the post-LeBron James era: the bench.
Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker hit late 3-pointers and Cleveland’s reserves poured in 52 points in leading the Cavaliers to their third straight win, 93-91 over the reeling New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night.
“I said all along that our bench could be one of our strong points and our guard play could be one of our strong points,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. “That was the case tonight.”
J.J. Hickson led the Cavaliers’ balanced attack with 18 points. Ramon Sessions and Jamison each added 15 points and Daniel Gibson had 14 as Cleveland beat the Nets for the ninth straight time.
Travis Outlaw scored a season-high 27 points for the Nets, who have lost five in a row after opening the season with two wins. Devin Harris added 18 and Brook Lopez had 16 for New Jersey, which got 15 points from its bench.
“I think the bench guys did a great job of setting the tone, but the most important thing was that we won the game,” said Jamison, who played almost 28 minutes after missing the last three games with a sore left knee. “We have a great group of guys who go out and play. I’m glad to be a part of it. I don’t know if this is my role for good. It’s early on and tough to say. But if it works, we’ll stick with it.”
Cleveland made five of its nine 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, with none being bigger than the ones by Jamison and Parker in the final 2:28.
The Cavaliers, who will play the Nets in Cleveland on Wednesday, were clinging to an 83-82 lead after Harris hit a jumper with 2:51 to play.
Jamison took a pass from Sessions and pumped in a 3-pointer from the right wing with 2:28 to go to push the lead to 86-82.
After Anthony Morrow missed a 3-pointer, Lopez blocked a drive to the basket by Gibson. There was a loose ball under the basket and it eventually made its way out to Parker at the top of the key. With the shot clock just about to sound, he launched a high-arcing 3-pointer that touched nothing but net and took the air out of New Jersey with 1:29 to go.
“That was probably the biggest shot and probably the most unexpected,” Scott said. “He hoisted it up and there was rain coming down with it.”
New Jersey inched its way back into the game over the final 89 seconds, but the final margin was close only because Outlaw hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We were fighting,” Outlaw said. “That’s the most important thing. We have to continue to fight. We have to continue to keep our head up and keep pushing.”
Sessions and Gibson were the catalysts for the Cavaliers. Gibson had eight points and Sessions had seven and four of his five assists.
His first two assists came on 3-pointers by Gibson and started a run of three 3s. Jawad Williams got the third one for a 73-71 lead and Sessions then drove the lane for a layup. Hickson added two free throws to put Cleveland ahead 77-71.
“The last few games, the bench has tried to get up and down the floor and change the pace of the game,” Sessions said. “Then if we get the lead, we keep it. There was tremendous spacing on the floor. Most of the floor was open and I went after it.”
New Jersey got within a point twice the rest of the way. A drive by Harris cut the lead to 81-80 but Sessions hit a short jumper and then Jamison made the first of the big 3s to put away the game.
“We had a few defensive breakdowns, gave up some open 3s and they made us pay for it,” Harris said.
Notes: Cavaliers leading scorer Mo Williams (20.7 points) missed his first nine shots and finished with two points on 1-of-12 shooting. … Cleveland was 12 of 22 from the free throw line. … Nets swingman Terrence Williams missed the game with a lower abdominal strain. … Gibson missed the Cavs’ practice on Monday for family reasons and didn’t get to Newark until Tuesday morning. … Nets veteran Troy Murphy had a game-high 11 rebounds.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)