CLEVELAND (AP) — Kris Humphries was so exhausted that he thought the Nets had just won in two overtimes.
No wonder he was beat. Nobody worked harder.
Humphries grabbed a career-high 23 rebounds and made several big plays in OT, leading New Jersey to just its fifth road win, 98-94 on Wednesday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers in a matchup of two bad teams missing players and winding down miserable seasons.
“I’m tired, man,” Humphries said.
Jordan Farmar’s two free throws with 3.8 seconds left helped seal it for the Nets, who snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 5-29 in road games. Two of those wins have come in Cleveland.
Humphries, Brook Lopez and Sasha Vujacic scored 18 apiece for New Jersey, which missed three free throws in overtime.
“It was a grind,” said Humphries, who set an arena record for rebounds, nine of them on offense. “Really, we just stuck with it.”
Ramon Sessions scored 21 and J.J. Hickson had 17 with 17 boards for the Cavs, who have lost four straight and seven in a row at home.
Humphries battled underneath all game long, and the muscular 6-foot-9 forward was at his best in the extra five-minute session.
In the final 1:09 of overtime, Humphries blocked a potential go-ahead layup by Daniel Gibson, grabbed rebound No. 23, made two free throws and stole the ball from Sessions, who got it caught on his hip, with 28.4 seconds left and the Nets clinging to a 92-90 lead.
Afterward, Humphries downplayed the significance of his impressive stat line.
“To me, it’s never been an individual thing,” he said. “It’s all about playing hard, rebounding, running the floor and playing the right way. Whatever comes from that is nice. It feels good to get 20 rebounds, but we want to try and win games.
“You can’t be out there hunting stats.”
Humphries wouldn’t brag, so Lopez praised his humble teammate.
“Another day, man, just another day,” Lopez said of Humphries, averaging a career-best 10.2 rebounds. “It’s incredible to see. After every game, you look at the stat column: 15 rebounds, 15 points, 20 points. All the intangible things he does, too. It’s incredible.”
After Humphries’ steal, Farmar made two free throws before Sessions scored on a layup to make it 94-92. The Cavs were forced to foul and Anthony Morrow’s two foul shots put the Nets ahead 96-92 with 11.3 seconds left. Hickson’s bucket got the Cavs within two, but Farmar dropped his free throws, rescuing the Nets.
As Humphries began recounting the game, he referred to Vujacic’s big shot “at the start of the second overtime.” He was then told he had only played one OT.
“Really?” he said. “I thought we went to double-overtime.”
It was a rough shooting night for both squads. New Jersey shot just 34 percent, and Cleveland wasn’t much better at 37 percent.
The announced crowd was 18,923, but only about half the seats in Quicken Loans Arena, which holds 20,562, were filled — one of whom was wearing a chicken suit. The sparse turnout was reminiscent of the seasons leading up to LeBron James’ arrival in Cleveland.
By games end, only a few thousand fans were hanging around as the Cavs fell to 13-57.
“I thought we let it get away,” said Cleveland coach Byron Scott, who liked the way his team remained focused. “We have to do a better job of executing down the stretch.”
Lopez came in averaging more than 24 points, but he was harassed by Cavs center Ryan Hollins and never got going. Lopez finished 7 of 21 from the field, missing several close-range shots.
“My stuff wasn’t going down tonight,” Lopez said. “I had to even shoot that last one twice. I was just trying to be like Humph. He was crashing the boards all game long.”
The Nets were without star point guard Deron Williams, who missed his third straight game with a strained tendon in his right wrist. Coach Avery Johnson said Williams, acquired last month in a blockbuster deal with Utah, will be re-evaluated Friday when the team is in Orlando.
Cavaliers guard Baron Davis missed his third straight game with back spasms. Davis has only played in four of 13 possible games since he was acquired in a Feb. 24 trade from the Clippers.
Notes: Humphries has averaged 15.1 points and 15.9 rebounds in his past 12 games. … Scott doesn’t have fond memories of his two appearances in the NCAA tournament. “What I remember was that we lost early,” said Scott, who recently had his number retired at Arizona State. “March Madness wasn’t much for me. I was just mad.” … Nets rookie F Damion James continues to have pain in his right foot. He had surgery on it in December, returned in February and played eight games but has missed the past two. … New Jersey had hoped rookie G Ben Uzoh, recalled earlier in the day from Springfield of the Developmental League, would be available. But Uzoh won’t join the team until Friday. … For the second straight game, Browns cornerback Joe Haden sat courtside, wearing a full Cavs uniform. This time, he also sported an Anderson Varejao wig.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)