Douglas
AP

Love, LeBron lead Cavaliers past Gasol-less Grizzlies 103-86

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CLEVELAND (AP) Kevin Love scored 29 points, J.R. Smith found his aim – for one half – and LeBron James added 23 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fifth straight, 103-86 on Tuesday night over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Memphis rested center Marc Gasol for the first of back-to-back games against the defending NBA champions.

Smith, who has been in a season-long shooting slump, scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half as the Cavs, who gave star point guard Kyrie Irving the night off, built a 22-point lead and ended the Grizzlies’ six-game winning streak.

Zach Randolph replaced Gasol in the starting lineup and scored 18 points to lead the Grizzlies. The reigning Western Conference player of the week, Gasol is expected to play Wednesday in Memphis to complete a brutal three-game stretch for the Grizzlies, who beat Golden State by 21 on Saturday.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said after the game that James, Love and Irving will not travel for the game Wednesday. Cleveland will start Smith, DeAndre Liggins, Iman Shumpert, James Jones and Tristan Thompson.

Smith came in shooting a career-low 31 percent from the field and 32 percent on 3s, the lowest mark since his rookie season with New Orleans in 2004. He also has been slowed by a sore left knee, which he hyperextended last week, causing him to miss two games.

Smith got it going early, dropping four 3-pointers in the first half. His fourth put the Cavs ahead 56-34, and he was 6 of 8 at halftime. He missed his first six shots in the third quarter and finished 8 of 17 – 6 of 10 on 3s.

Cleveland seemed disinterested after halftime and Memphis managed to stay within striking distance, but the Grizzlies didn’t have enough firepower without Gasol and Mike Conley, who is expected to miss another month with a back injury.

The Grizzlies were still within eight when James scored on a layup and hit a cutting Love for an easy bucket to make it 90-74 with 5:11 left.

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: G/F Vince Carter returned after missing seven games with a right hip flexor strain. He played 18 minutes. … Memphis coach David Fizdale was an assistant in Miami the four years James was with the Heat. “He coached me more than I coached him,” said Fizdale, who got a big hug from James before the opening tip. “You’re talking about a one percentile guy when it comes to basketball intelligence. I think I learned more from him than he learned from me.”… Memphis is 12-0 this season in games decided by five points or less.

Cavaliers: James needs 28 points to pass Moses Malone (27,409) for eighth place on the career scoring list. … In Saturday’s win over Charlotte, James became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968 to score 44 points and get 10 assists, nine rebounds and shoot 70 percent. … With his 3-pointer in the first, Love became the fifth active player with 800 career 3s and 6,000 rebounds. James, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce are the others. … Channing Frye was back after missing two games for his father’s funeral. … Smith passed Dale Ellis (1,719) for 14th on the career 3-pointer list.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: After facing the Cavs again, Memphis hosts Sacramento on Friday.

Cavaliers: Cleveland’s next home game is Saturday against the Lakers.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.

76ers coach Brett Brown: Joel Embiid’s minute restriction could quickly rise

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Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).

But good news could be on the way.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.

Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.

Report: Bucks have offered second-round pick as enticement for Rashad Vaughn trade

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John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.

Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.

It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.

But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.

Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.

This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.