September 16, 2014

Elyria
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Gibson not playing like he’s a rookie

The future is now for rookie guard Daniel Gibson. The same can be said for the Cavaliers, who have gotten an unexpected bounce from the kid who prefers to be called “Boobie.’’
Gibson turned in his second big-time performance in two games on Tuesday night, scoring a career-high 21 points in Cleveland’s 91-87 win over the Detroit Pistons in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
“Gibson played unbelievable,’’ Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. “We couldn’t keep in front of him in the first half, he got to the free throw line, made 12 in a row, shot really well. He was great.’’
Much to Saunders’ dismay, the Pistons could well have swept the Cavaliers if not for Gibson’s unexpected emergence over the past two games.
Cleveland’s second-round draft choice stepped in for ailing starter Larry Hughes early in both games and played with the poise of a seasoned veteran.
Gibson scored nine key points off the bench, including a pair of 3-pointers, in Cleveland’s 88-82 home win Sunday. He followed with an even better game Tuesday, highlighted by a team-rookie record 12-for-12 performance from the foul line.
“He was great,’’ said Hughes, who remains hobbled by a left foot injury. “I told him, ‘As long as you’re solid, I can sit here on the bench.’ He was able to get to the free throw line and make the game easy.’’
The Texas native was so impressive, he had the sellout crowd at Quicken Loans Arena chanting his name at various points of the series-tying fourth game.
The fans’ only problem was deciding which name to sing. Some preferred a melodic “Dan-iel Gib-son,’’ while others yelled out “Boo-bie.’’
By either moniker, you can call the 21-year-old a winner.
“He came off the bench and he was aggressive,’’ Pistons guard Richard Hamilton said. “We’ve got to do a better job of recognizing where he’s at, take away his penetration and things like that, you know. But he played well for them.’’
Ironically, the last rookie to make this type of splash this late in the postseason is one of the players Gibson has been forced to guard.
Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince made a huge contribution out of nowhere in the 2003 playoffs and never looked back. Today, the lanky forward is one of the NBA’s most respected and productive players.
Gibson, though, isn’t looking any further ahead than his next game. That comes Thursday at The Palace of Auburn Hills, where the Cavaliers can move within one win of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
“It definitely feels good, but it’s not over yet,’’ Gibson said. “We handled our business and took care of home, but we have more games to go to get where we want to be.’’
Contact Brian Dulik at sports@ohio.net.