The End: Cavaliers stop losing streak at 26

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Daniel Gibson slipped an expensive gold chain over his head and touched its dangling diamond-studded medallion.

Looking up at the crush of cameras, he took a deep breath and exhaled.

“I can smile again,” he beamed. “It feels pretty good. Winning is a precious feeling.”

The losing streak — so long, so embarrassing, so hard to stop — is over.

Finally. Barely.

Nearly two months after it started innocently, the Cavaliers stopped their NBA-record skid at 26 games Friday night with a 126-119 win in overtime against the Los Angeles Clippers, who did all they could to extend Cleveland’s winter misery.

The Cavs, who had become a national joke as the losses piled up, won for the first time since Dec. 18 and just the second time in 38 games. They had to go an extra five minutes to ensure they didn’t set the mark for the longest skid in pro sports history.

They’ll gladly settle with tying the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the worst streak among the four major sports.

It’s one they didn’t want to own, and they played like it.

“It’s a great feeling and great for the morale of this team, this city and these fans,” said Antawn Jamison, who matched a season high with 35 points. “It’s finally good to get it. We’ve been working so hard for this. We finally got it.”

Jamison made the game’s biggest basket, a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left in OT for the Cavs, who may have gotten a favorable call at the end of regulation when J.J. Hickson blocked Baron Davis‘ potential game-winning layup in the final second.

The Clippers thought he goaltended.

“I can’t say what I think about all those things,” Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin said. “That was unbelievable. Throughout the whole game, it was just unbelievable. That was the worst home-court advantage I’ve ever seen. There’s such a thing as home-court advantage, but that was unbelievable.”

Gibson scored nine in overtime and Hickson, playing like a man possessed all night in a matchup with Griffin, added 27 points and 14 rebounds.

The Clippers made the Cavs (9-45) sweat out every second. Down by six, Los Angeles cut it to 120-119 on Randy Foye’s 3 with 44 seconds left. But Jamison responded by popping outside on an inbounds play and draining his 3 from the left wing to revive the hopes of Cleveland fans, whose emotions soared and dropped by the minute.

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