CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers have cured their allergy to winning. Their next step is to figure out a way to develop a winning streak.
For the seventh straight time dating all the way back to Nov. 16, Cleveland lost when it had a chance to win two games in a row, falling 95-91 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavs (11-48) have had a winning streak on just one occasion this season, that coming when they won three straight on the road from Nov. 5-9.
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“It’s something we’re definitely working toward,” big man Samardo Samuels said. “We’ve been working on winning, period.”
Having lost 26 straight and 36-of-37 not all that long ago, Cleveland has managed to win three of its last six, but it breaks down this way: W-L-W-L-W-L.
The Cavs weren’t horrible Sunday, but they weren’t good enough to beat a Philadelphia team that has won five straight and 13 of its last 17 to improve to 30-29 overall. The last time the Sixers were over .500 was five games into last season.
Compounding matters, Cavs forward Antawn Jamison suffered a gruesome facture to the little finger on his left hand when he was fouled by Jrue Holiday with 7:26 left in the third period.
Jamison was supposed to shoot free throws at that point, but couldn’t, with Philadelphia coach Doug Collins selecting Ryan Hollins to do the honors.
Whether Jamison’s injury is something that can be treated with a splint that will allow him to play or will require some type of cast won’t be known until today at the earliest.
What is known is that the NBA-worst Cavs, who host NBA-best San Antonio on Wednesday, have gone almost four months without a winning streak.
“We’ve been up and down,” coach Byron Scott said. “We’re still trying to learn what it takes to be successful every single night.”
Cleveland got a very good game from J.J. Hickson, who had 10 points in the first 7½ minutes and finished with 22 points and 16 boards, and solid outings from Ramon Sessions (20 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, five turnovers), Jamison (16 points) and Samuels (12 points, six rebounds).
However, Christian Eyenga (0 points in 22 minutes), Anthony Parker (two points in 36 minutes) and Daniel Gibson (nine points on 3-for-12 shooting) provided next to nothing offensively.
Despite that — and a Scott-chosen lineup of Eyenga, Alonzo Gee, Samuels, Manny Harris and Gibson while the Sixers were going on a 20-4 run late in the first period and early in the second — the Cavs had a chance down the stretch.
The Cavs scored six straight points and had the ball, down 91-88, after Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala committed an offensive foul with 29.3 seconds left.
Following a Cleveland timeout, the ball was inbounded to Gibson, who held it way too long trying to get it to Sessions, who was being face-guarded. That finally accomplished, Sessions got it right back to Gibson, who passed up a quick 3-point attempt in favor of passing to Hickson, who turned it over with 12.5 seconds left.
“I didn’t want to just hoist up a bad one,” Gibson said.
The Sixers, who had six players score between 10 and 16 points, iced the game at the line, meaning the earliest the Cavs can possibly have a two-game winning streak is Friday.
That would require not only beating San Antonio, but ending a 26-game road losing streak Friday in New York.
“It’s just a matter of taking it one game at a time,” Gibson said. “You can’t worry about winning four or five in a row. You’ve just got to try to win your next one.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com.