Photo: Scott Shaw/The Plain Dealer
With LeBron carrying the team on his broad shoulders for the last three games without Mo Williams, the Cavaliers hoped that tonight's contest against Minnesota would prove to be an easy one. They got what they wanted, largely because several key role players, led by J.J. Hickson, stepped up their game and allowed James to take only eight shots on a night where he only needed to play three quarters. The Cavaliers kept the win streak rolling along at six.
Forcing the issue: The Cavalier coaching staff understood quite clearly that they had an opportunity to take the pressure off LeBron for tonight at least. To accomplish that, they started off with multiple looks for J.J. Hickson and Anthony Parker. Parker is starting to take more shots off screen-and-curls, something that everyone expected more of at this point in all honesty. If A.P. can get his scoring up a bit, it's really going to help fill the void while Mo and Delonte are out. Hickson looked like the player who had a string of amazing games when he surged into the starting lineup at the start of the season. LeBron was able to find him repeatedly on the weakside for dunks and easy layups, and it wasn't all because the Timberwolves suddenly forgot that J.J. could creep in behind the defense. It was because Hickson worked a lot harder in getting open and finding the lanes through which he could get buckets. J.J. seems to be one of those players that you have to keep an eye on constantly, but games like tonight, where he shows the ability to put anything in around the basket, are why the Cavaliers are still high on him. Hickson posted a new career high in points with 23 on 8-of-10 shooting. J.J. also made all seven free throws attempts, where he hovers below 70 percent, and ripped off 8 rebounds and 1 block.