Third Quarter Continues to Be Issue for Hickson, Cavs

By: T.J. Zuppe

It may be a new coach, new floor design, new uniforms and new players, but it was the same third quarter problems for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night at Quicken Loans arena, as they fell to the Sacramento Kings 107-104.

The team was outscored in the third period by a total of 31-15, after holding a first half lead of 16 points.

Cavs Forward J.J. Hickson

It seemed every Cavalier could not escape the same issue they have faced in years past, as a lack of focus and intensity plagued the team. This came after a first half in which they scored 67 points, were clicking on offense and playing just well enough on defense.

One Cavs player who was affected by the third quarter doldrums was forward J.J. Hickson. The third-year forward, who scored 11 points in the first half on 4-9 shooting, only scored four points the rest of the evening, including only shooting two shots from the field, both misses.

He finished with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists.

“I think I just need to apply myself more and just stay aggressive in the second half,” Hickson said. “Just take better shots. I think that will come in due time.”

To be fair, it was not just Hickson who struggled to find the same level of play he had in the first half. The entire team looked out of rhythm offensively, which led to some poor defensive play.

“I’m pretty sure they had a lot of fast break points (in the second half),” Hickson said. “We had too many defensive lapses in the third quarter.

“It was the same thing that happened in Toronto, and its the same thing that happened against Boston. It’s the third quarter that is killing us.”

On the young season, the Cavs have been outscored in the third quarter by a 88-54 margin. Hickson has a good idea why.

“We are just coming out flat. We’ve got to take it upon ourselves individually, and as a team to just come out aggressively and apply ourself a little more.”

In prior years, the Cavs could seemingly underachieve in stages of the game, but still have the talent to will themselves to victory in the final frame. However, that is not how this Cavs team was built, and Hickson understands that.

“I don’t think we have the type of team that cannot play (well) for three-quarters and win it in the fourth. He added. “That’s been our problem. We haven’t been aggressive all game.

“We just had too many lapses. In due time we’ll get better with that, watching film and (we’ll) take it upon ourself to be more aggressive.”

Cavs coach Byron Scott also spoke of trusting your teammates more on the defensive side of the ball, and stressed how important it was to let defense fuel the offense, not the other way around. That is clearly something that will develop over time, just as Hickson said.

But for the most part, as the young forward stated, coming out aggressive is simply a mindset they have to change mentally within themselves, before they can continue to build on the process.

Clearly that process has become more of a work-in-progress. But step one in solving a problem is realizing the shortcomings and in that aspect, Hickson and the Cavs are saying all of the right things. Step two will be in the application.

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