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Published: Tuesday, 2/8/2011

Cavs lose 25th game in a row

Hickson scores 26, Sessions has 19

BY JODIE VALADE
(CLEVELAND) PLAIN DEALER

Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Antawn Jamison (4) sits in front of the scorer's tables waiting to be subbed in during the first half of the NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas. Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Antawn Jamison (4) sits in front of the scorer's tables waiting to be subbed in during the first half of the NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas.
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DALLAS -- They are closer now than ever. The Cavaliers swear it. They have battled in their last four games, they have taken the losses that much harder afterward.

But they have lost every contest, including last night's 99-96 stumble to the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.

They were close again. They tied the game twice in the fourth quarter. They were within three points with 1:40 left. They were searching for a 3-pointer to tie the contest when the buzzer went off.

But as in each of the three close games before yesterday, as in each of the 24 losses that came before this one, as they have in 35 of the last 36 games, they couldn't close it out in the end.

"It's like Groundhog Day every day," said Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison of the 25-game losing streak, an NBA record that was extended as Jamison passed up a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

J.J. Hickson led the Cavs with 26 points, with Ramon Sessions adding 19.

The Cavaliers are now undisputedly the most consistent losers in NBA history. With 25 straight losses, they've eclipsed not only the former single-season record of 23 but now the two-season record of 24, achieved by the 1981-82 and 1982-83 Cavaliers.

They've lost more in a row than any Major League Baseball team (Philadelphia Phillies lost 23), more than any NHL team (Washington and San Jose lost 17), and are on the verge of equaling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 26-game skid for the longest in professional sports.

Cavaliers coach Byron Scott hasn't slept well all season. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joked that if he endured a stretch like this one, he'd ask his wife to "hide all the knives." The team has had offers from psychologists to counsel the players, Scott said, but they're confident in their ability to turn it around without outside help.

After all, they are getting closer.

"I think it hurts more, now, because of the fact we're playing better on both ends of the floor," Scott said. "That's why I know in my heart it's going to end pretty soon -- because of the fact that our guys are getting better, and they're taking it a lot harder now. Watching guys in the locker room, you can tell they're just hurting to lose those games."

Yesterday's defeat came despite a solid defensive effort in the third quarter that limited the Mavericks to 18 points. The Cavs tied the game at 79 with 9:59 remaining, when J.J. Hickson slammed in a breakaway dunk, only to see the Mavericks rattle off a 12-2 run -- sparked by five points from Jason Terry -- to seize control.

They battled back again late in the fourth, coming within 97-94 with 1:40 remaining after Jamison sank a 3-pointer. But they fumbled immediately after that, as Hickson was called for an offensive foul.

They were searching for a 3-pointer to even the score as the game-ending buzzer went off, and Jamison passed up a contested opportunity as the clock hit zeroes, with Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon throwing up their hands in frustration.

Lakers 93, Grizzlies 84

MEMPHIS -- Kobe Bryant scored 19 points and Lamar Odom had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead Los Angeles over Memphis.

Memphis got within two points in the fourth quarter, but Los Angeles took advantage of five Grizzlies turnovers to go on an 11-0 run and take an 89-76 lead.

Bobcats 94, Celtics 89

CHARLOTTE -- Gerald Wallace scored 19 points, including the clinching free throws with 3 seconds left, and Charlotte overcame top scorer Stephen Jackson's ejection to beat the short-handed Boston Celtics.

Shaun Livingston added a season-high 18 points, little-used Eduardo Najera had a key 3-pointer late, and the Bobcats snapped six-game losing streak to Boston.

Timberwolves 104, Hornets 92

NEW ORLEANS -- Kevin Love had 27 points and 17 rebounds, and struggling Minnesota maintained its surprising dominance of the playoff-contending New Orleans.

Minnesota's second double-digit win over New Orleans this season might have been a costly one, though. Michael Beasley had to be helped off the floor with a left leg injury in the fourth and center Darko Milicic departed with a strained left hip flexor in the first.



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