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February 9, 2011
On the Beat
Adjustment for Gibson

by John Perrotto

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Daniel Gibson's first four seasons in NBA coincided with the four best seasons in Cleveland Cavaliers history, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2007.

The fifth season has been a nightmare for the guard and his teammates now that LeBron James has left for the Miami Heat. The Cavaliers have lost a league-record 25 games in a row to fall to 8-44, the worst record in the NBA.

However, Gibson says he is not hoping to be traded. He was a Cavalier in the good times and he'll be a Cavalier in the bad times.

"I'm glad to be here and I'm happy to be here," Gibson said. "It feels like a bad dream, but at the same time, I'm willing to hang in here and continue to fight so that we get back to that level. I know what it feels like to be there."

Cleveland is obviously nowhere near playoff caliber now. Gibson understands that but also knows the Cavaliers were 17-65 in 2002-03, the season before making James the first overall draft pick. Three years later, they began a string of five straight playoffs appearances that included winning at least one series each postseason.

"I have had a lot of success being here," Gibson said. "If you are a fan of the NBA and you watch the NBA, you know that every team goes through a period like this. No team stays at the top forever. At some point you experience this."

One good sign for the Cavaliers is they don't appear to have given in to the losing. They lost by just three points, 99-96, on the road to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. Coach Byron Scott has kept his team motivated in his first year on the job.

"(Scott) said that the way we have been playing as of late, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," Gibson said. "We have just got to continue to play the same way that we have been playing and things are going to change for us."

The losing goes beyond just 25 straight, though. Cleveland has also dropped 34 of its last 35 games and is on a 26-game road losing streak. However, Gibson said the Cavaliers don't obsess about all defeats piling up.

"You can't," he said. "The thing about it for us is just winning the next game. You can't think about how many we have lost to this point. You can't. You just have to go out there focused. Whatever you didn't do to win the last game, you have to improve going into the next game and keep improving. That has to be our focus, it can't be anywhere else."

New Orleans Defense Missing Starters

The New Orleans Hornets are third in the in the NBA with a 99.4 Defensive Rating behind just the Chicago Bulls (96.4) and the Boston Celtics (98.0). However, they have allowed at least 100 points in six of the last seven games.

New Orleans seemingly has a reason for the recent drop off on the defensive end. Center and shot-blocker extraordinaire Emeka Okafor (strained oblique muscle) has missed the last four games and forward and top man-to-man defender Trevor Ariza (sprained right ankle) has sat out the last two. However, Hornets coach Monty Williams is not willing to make any excuses.

"It doesn't matter who's out there," Williams said. "You have to approach the game the same way. I don't care who you put out there, you can always defend."

If anything, Williams feels the rest of the team's players should be turning up the defensive intensity with Okafor and Ariza injured.

"If you have two guys that give you an edge who are out, you have to do more," Williams said. "You have to bring another level. I thought we would bring a heightened sense of urgency. You can't take possessions off. You can lose an offensive rhythm, but I don't believe you lose a defensive rhythm. Defense is a mindset you have to have every night."

Since the Hornets have lost five of their last six games to fall to 32-21, guard Chris Paul believes his team needs a good defensive effort for its confidence. New Orleans will get that chance to have one Wednesday night against the New Jersey Nets, who are 27th in the league with a 99.8 Offensive Rating.

"When we were winning and stuff like that, we were holding teams under 100," Paul said. "So I think going into this game against Jersey, win or lose, we need to hold them under 100 and be the team we know we are. We're a defensive team. We're not going to outscore teams and right now we're trying to outscore teams."

Charlotte Trying to Finish Strong

The Charlotte Bobcats have had to hang on in the fourth quarter for many of their recent victories. Coach Paul Silas would like to see his team talk more on defense late in games and has been stressing the importance of communication in practice.

"You cannot play good defense unless you talk; it's an impossibility," Silas said. "Changing habits is very difficult. It takes about 28 days of doing something different to change a habit. I have to mention it to them every day that we're not talking."

The Bobcats are a middle-of-the-pack defensive team as they rank 14th in the NBA with a 103.5 Defensive Rating.

"We can talk more on defense," guard Stephen Jackson said. "And it's got to be all of us. Not three guys communicating and two guys doing their own thing."

Thunder Seeking Control of Northwest

The Oklahoma City Thunder holds a three-game lead over the Utah Jazz in the Northwest Division and may have made a statement by rolling to a 121-105 victory last Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

"They have a terrific team," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of the Thunder. "I thought they were a terrific team last year. They played the Lakers in a tough series. Young guys that just keep getting better and better. They know what they're doing. They know how to play with each other, and they are really a terrific team."

Oklahoma City tied for third last season in the Northwest with the Portland Trail Blazers while the Jazz shared the division title with the Denver Nuggets. Thus, the Thunder's Kevin Durant understood the significance of Saturday's victory.

"It's a division game," Durant said. "This team is very tough at home. We always fight, have battles with them every game we play them. It was a fun game."

John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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