Cavs Surge With Hughes At the Point

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports -

Af­ter Eric Snow proved to be in­ef­fec­tive and rookie Daniel Gib­son ap­peared over­whelmed, the Cleve­land Cav­a­liers de­cided to fix their point guard prob­lems by hand­ing the role to Larry Hughes on March 3. “ I think for this team, it fits me,” Hughes said.

The move, which fi­nally en­gaged Hughes in the of­fense, was long over­due, as ev­i­denced by the eight- game win streak that fol­lowed the switch. Hughes had a sea­son- high 10 as­sists in a win over Min­nesota last week, and the Cav­a­liers are 17- 4 this sea­son when he has at least five as­sists.

In his last sea­son in Wash­ing­ton, Hughes was at his best when shar­ing the play­mak­ing du­ties with Gil­bert Are­nas. But for his first 11⁄ years in Cleve­land,

2 Hughes was mis­cast as a catch- and- shoot player — which could be a prob­lem for player with an in­con­sis­tent jump shot. “ It’s easy for me to be more pro­duc­tive with the ball early in the shot clock rather than be­ing a spot- up shooter,” Hughes said. “ I think I’ve al­ways wanted the ball more.” ...

Af­ter mostly get­ting spot duty off the bench in the first half of the sea­son, rookie Tyrus Thomas is com­ing on at the right time for the Chicago Bulls. The 6- foot- 9 high flier from Louisiana State is a spark with his ac­ro­batic dunks and blocks, but he also gave the Bulls qual­ity pro­duc­tion in the ab­sence of An­dres No­cioni.

In the past three weeks, he also has come through with a game- win­ning put­back with 0.2 of a sec­ond left against the Den­ver Nuggets; a 23- point, nine- re­bound ef­fort in a win over Bos­ton; and a ca­reer- high 27 points, with eight re­bounds, three steals and three blocks, against Cleve­land on March 31. Coach Scott Sk­iles had no prob­lems us­ing him in crunch time over vet­eran P. J. Brown, but when asked if he ex­pects to give Thomas heavy min­utes down the stretch, Sk­iles kept the rookie in check: “ De­pends on how he plays.” . . .

New Or­leans Hor­nets point guard Chris Paul, who missed 18 games with a se­verely sprained right an­kle, has been try­ing to keep his team’s faint post­sea­son dreams alive de­spite hav­ing a stress re­ac­tion in his right foot that might re­quire off­sea­son surgery. He doesn’t ex­pect the in­jury — or surgery — to have an im­pact on his par­tic­i­pa­tion with the U. S. na­tional team this sum­mer. “ I’ll do it again if the op­por­tu­nity presents it­self again,” Paul said. “ I have to have surgery, [ the doc­tors] say it’s a three- week time frame, so I would be fine.”

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