In front of 7,092 fans at the Schottenstein Center, the Cleveland Cavaliers picked up a victory over the Milwaukee Bucks 83-77, in their final tune-up before the start of the regular season.
“It’s fun to play in cities like this that don’t have an opportunity to see you on a day-to-day basis, especially in the state of Ohio,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. “It’s fun for us and hopefully it’s fun for the city of Columbus.”
Point guard Ramon Sessions led the Cavaliers with 26 points. Sessions started in place of Mo Williams, who was excused from the game because of the death of his father-in-law.
“I thought he played well. He was in a kind of tough situation with Mo not being here,” Scott said. “He knew he would have to play some tough minutes, but I thought he played pretty well on both ends.”
Point guard Daniel Gibson also missed the game for the Cavaliers with a neck strain, while the Bucks were without former Ohio State star Michael Redd and rotation regulars John Salmons, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Corey Maggette.
With neither team at full strength, the game was closely contested throughout. Cavaliers guard Anthony Parker connected with Sessions for an alley-oop layup to give the Cavaliers a two-point lead to start the second half, but a scoring burst from guard Chris Douglas-Roberts gave the Bucks a one-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
After battling back and fourth throughout the final quarter, a breakaway lay-up by Sessions gave the Cavaliers a one-point lead with less than four minutes remaining.
The Cavaliers extended their lead to as many as seven points, and forward Jamario Moon intercepted a pass from Bucks center Brian Skinner, which lead to a Parker 3-pointer to give the Cavaliers an eight point lead with 24 seconds left.
Parker finished the game with 18 points and zero turnovers, while playing a team-high 38 minutes for the Cavaliers.
“He not only picked up the scoring, but he ran the offense a lot. He played 37 to 38 minutes and not one turnover,” Scott said. “That means that you can count on him to do the little things, and he’s one of the guys who knows what we’re doing pretty well.”
The 7,092 attendance number was a significant drop from last year’s Cavaliers preseason game in Columbus, which drew 18,021 fans.
Now the Cavalier with the longest tenure with the team, center Anderson Varejao said that he wasn’t disappointed with the Columbus fans.
“It’s my fourth time here and it’s always good to come here and play games,” Varejao said. “The fans do a good job.”
Despite not playing, Gibson said that it’s a good experience for Cavaliers fans in Columbus to get to see the team live.
“It’s just a lot of fun, getting out there in front of fans that don’t have the opportunity to come to the ‘Q,'” Gibson said. “You got to assume you have funs in just other than Cleveland.”
Moon said that playing in front of a city without an NBA franchise reminds him of his days playing with the Harlem Globetrotters.
“I’m always excited to play in front of different people who can’t come watch me play, and that’s what I did for my whole career for my other teams that I played for trying to come and get to the NBA,” Moon said. “It gives a lot of people that can’t get to Cleveland a chance to come out and see a good brand of basketball that the Cavaliers put out on the floor.”