Damon Jones is shooting 9-of-18 (50 percent) from beyond the arc in his last three games.
Over the hump of the shooting slump
Friday, March 24, 2006
Plain Dealer Reporter
Damon Jones refused to consider the missed wide-open jumpers as a sign that he and his teammates were in a shooting slump. Jones knew that it was only a matter of time before the 3-pointers would begin to fall again.
That time has finally arrived.
"People have said that Damon isn't shooting well and why am I still playing him," coach Mike Brown said. "I'm still playing him because I've seen Damon [shoot well] over the years. He's done it against us where ever I've coached. He's a capable 3-point shooter and that's why we brought him here. Not only him, other guys have stepped up and knocked down the shot."
Jones, Donyell Marshall and Flip Murray have picked up the out side shoot ing pace in recent games. This is the same Jones and Marshall who were so deep in a slump that they were shooting air balls and even second guessing themselves. Murray was shooting 20 percent from the 3-point arc this season when he arrived in Cleveland from Seattle. Outside shooting wasn't part of his game plan.
But all three players have made major contributions in recent games. Especially Jones, who is shooting 9-of-18 (50 percent) from beyond the arc in his last three games.
Jones was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc against Charlotte on Wednesday.
"I haven't noticed any [improvement] in my shooting," Jones said. "I'm just trying to get them up. I'm just trying to contribute in any way I can. Playoff time is coming and I've been there before, so I know what it's like. I also know we all have to step up and get better any way we can with only 14 games left."
Marshall, who is 2-for-4 from beyond the arc in his last two games, has also been to the playoffs but his shot has been off until he made some recent adjustments.
"I'm taking less 3s and trying to get to the basket more," Marshall said. "Since I've been driving more, the defense now looks at me and wonders what I'm going to do. That's opening the floor for us and that could translate to more wins because that's going to keep people on their toes. Before, Damon and I were standing out there and shooting 3s, now the defense doesn't know if we're going to take the shot or pump fake and go past them."
Murray has made a living going past defenders with easy scores to the basket but has found a major addition to his game. Murray, a career 26.3 percent 3-point shooter, is knocking them down since he's been with the Cavs. Not only has Murray been an improved 3-pointer shooter but he's hitting 3-pointers with the game on the line. There was the 3-pointer in the final seconds to beat the Chicago Bulls earlier this month and the 3-pointer that sent Wednesday's game into overtime.
"I remember when Flip first got here he was 0-for-8 from the 3-point line," Brown said. "I was looking at his stats and I told one of the [assistant] coaches to tell Flip to start driving the ball more. I had this conversation the morning of shootaround of the Chicago game when he shot that [game-winning] three. After the game, I told the coaches not to say anything to Flip. Leave Flip alone."
Murray, who was 3-for-4 from 3-point range against Charlotte, said he has developed the outside touch since joining the Cavs.
"For me, it was always about going to the basket," Murray said. "Now if I have the open shot I'm going to take it. I've been constantly working with the coaches on my shot. They've taught me to use the same form every time and make sure I get the ball up high to give it a chance to go in. So far things have been working out."
Hughes' return near:
Larry Hughes' return to action is near. He could return within two weeks. Hughes had a second surgery to repair a right middle finger last month.
He's no longer in a cast and he's no longer wearing a brace. Hughes has started taking short jumpers and ball-handling drills.
"I'm feeling good right now," Hughes said. "Everything is feeling good. As soon as I get cleared I'll be ready to go."
Hughes has been out of action since the end of December. He's more than ready to play.
"It's been tough sitting and waiting," Hughes said. "I haven't done anything with my right hand for three months and that's kind of unbelievable as much basketball as I've played. I'm tired of watching."
Before the injury, Hughes was averaging 16.2 points per game.
The Cavs dished out a season-high 31 assists against the Bobcats on Wednesday. . . . The Cavs are 7-1 when dishing out 25 or more assists in a game. . . . Zydrunas Ilgauskas has scored in double figures in 22 of his past 23 games and is averaging 17.1 points on 51.9 percent shooting during that span.