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Cavs Cavs Archive Kings' regal second half gets best of Cavs, 107-104
Written by Erik Cassano

Erik Cassano

Varejao_EvansOver the previous four seasons or so, the Cavaliers were  locked into a championship-or-bust mindset.

That's all well and good, but the Cavs are now quickly finding out that while their whole organization was bending over backwards to try and win titles and keep LeBron happy, a lot of other teams were busy amassing impressive collections of young talent. And the Cavs are now staring up at those teams.

The Cavs (1-2) saw enough impressive young talent Friday night in Toronto. Saturday night, at home versus the Sacramento Kings, the Cavs saw exponentially more in a 107-104 loss.

Anderson Varejao returned to action Saturday after missing Friday's game to stay in Cleveland for his father's heart surgery, but Ramon Sessions once again started in place of inactive Mo Williams.

After a miserable effort Friday, Sessions stepped up his play in the first half Saturday, igniting the Cavs offense with speedy drives to the hoop. With Sessions wreaking havoc in the paint, the Cavs built up a double-digit second quarter cushion, eventually taking a 67-53 halftime lead.

But the Kings are quickly gaining a reputation as a second half team. They stormed back from a double-digit second-half deficit Friday in New Jersey, only to lose to the Nets 106-100. Saturday, the Kings tightened up their interior defense in the second half, neutralized Sessions' speed, and the dominoes started to fall.

With Sessions' driving lanes filled up, the Cavs spent most of the third quarter passing the ball around the perimeter looking for an open shooter. It took the Cavs completely out of their offensive rhythm, and the bricks started drawing iron.

With no rebounding presence save for Varejao (9  REB) the Cavs were getting very few second-chance opportunities, allowing Sacramento to dominate the ball for much of the second half. On the defensive end, the Cavs were overmatched by the post game of Carl Landry and the perimeter shooting of Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi.  Casspi carved the Cavs up from deep, hitting six of seven three-balls, including several of the back-breaking variety in the fourth quarter.

The Kings' first-round draft picks last year and this year -- Evans, Casspi and rookie center DeMarcus Cousins -- combined for 55 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists.  It would seem that the Kings' scouting department might deserve substantial raises.

Sacramento turned their 14-point halftime deficit to a lead that reached as high as 11 late in the third quarter. To the Cavs' credit, they didn't fold. Daniel Gibson did everything his 6'-2" frame would allow to drag the Cavs back into the game. He attempted to ignite the offense late in the fourth quarter as the Cavs edged as close as three, but his trio of three-balls and attempts to wriggle through the Kings' interior defense weren't nearly effective enough.

Sessions and Evans tied for the game high with 21 points. All five Kings starters scored in double figures. Other than Gibson and Sessions, J.J. Hickson was the only other Cavs to reach double figures with 15. Hickson's performance was a balance between his magnum opus in Wednesday's win over Boston and his foul-plagued bomb on Friday in Toronto. Hickson's 15 points and five board are pretty close to what we can probably expect from the young forward night in and night out.

Antawn Jamison regressed after a 13-point outburst Friday. in 18 minutes Saturday, he was 1-for-7 from the floor, missed all four three-pointers he took, for just two points. You have to start really wondering if Jamison's motivation to compete is waning. He's 35 and coming off the bench for a team that is no longer in the championship contention picture. Even though Jamison is about as far from a self-centered prima donna as you can get among NBA players, he can't be happy with his current situation.

Not that anybody in the Cavs locker room is happy. In years previous, the Cavs were the kind of veteran contender that would make a young team like the Kings take their lumps as they tried to claw up the ladder of NBA respectability. Now, the Kings can win the talent battle against the non-LeBron, non-Shaq Cavs, and that's enough to win the game in crunch time.

But the show goes on, even if you might not want it to sometimes. The Cavs are back in action Tuesday against another tough customer -- the Atlanta Hawks. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at The Q.


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