LeBron James lifts Cavs past Bucks in OT, 114-108

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MILWAUKEE (AP) LeBron James had a big night beyond the arc and capped it with three pivotal points.

James buried a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24 seconds left in overtime and the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for a 114-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night to avenge a late November loss.

“It’s something I practice before the game, it’s something I do on practice days and I was shooting the ball extremely well tonight from the perimeter,” said James, who matched his season high with five 3-pointers. “So, I just trust it. I trust in what I’ve been doing and the work I’ve been putting into it and knock it down.”

Milwaukee took a 108-107 lead on a tip-in by Giannis Antetokounmpo with 1:12 left. Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving missed a 3-pointer from the left corner on the next possession, but Jabari Parker‘s lay-in attempt at the other end curled out.

James was fouled on the rebound by Antetokounmpo, his sixth. James then hit the deep 3-pointer to put Cleveland up 110-108.

“That 3 hurt us,” Parker said. “He’s the best player in the world. He doesn’t care how far it is. You’ve got to respect him.”

Parker was fouled on a layup attempt on the ensuing possession but missed both free throws. Irving hit a pair of free throws with 15.7 seconds left to make it 112-108.

James had 34 points and Irving 28 for Cleveland, which had lost at Milwaukee 118-101 on Nov. 29. Parker had 30 points and Antetokounmpo added 25. The two teams meet again Wednesday night in Cleveland.

“Jabari took advantage of some of our smaller guys when we had them on him, getting to the basket, kind of being physical,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “So we’ve got to do a better job with that matchup.”

The Bucks scored the final seven points of regulation to send it into overtime tied at 100.

Parker scored on a drive to put Milwaukee up 104-102, but Richard Jefferson was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to put Cleveland back ahead 105-104. Antetokounmpo answered with a short jumper from the lane to put the Bucks in front 106-105.

Jefferson scored on a baseline drive, but Antetokounmpo made a tip-in to give the Bucks the 108-107 lead with 1:12 left.

The Cavaliers took a 100-93 lead on Irving’s 3-pointer with 2:32 left in regulation, but Greg Monroe‘s inside basket and Tony Snell‘s 3-pointer cut it to 100-98 with 47 seconds remaining.

After a missed 3-pointer by James, Parker scored on an inside spin move from the left side to tie it at 100 with 15.5 seconds left. Irving missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1 second left.

“We get them again tomorrow in Cleveland,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “We can watch video, clean up some mistakes and give them another run tomorrow. Understanding that small plays mean everything. Coming up with loose balls, being able to finish plays on the defensive end and, hopefully, a couple more shots go down for us tomorrow.”

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Cleveland was without F Kevin Love, sidelined with a bruised left knee. Jefferson started in his place. Love (22.3 points per game and team-high 10.7 rebounds per game) is questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Bucks in Cleveland

Bucks: Reserve F Michael Beasley (8.3 points per game), one of the top contributors off the bench, was out for the third straight game with a sprained left foot.

JAMES PASES MALONE

James moved past Moses Malone (27,409 points) into eighth place on the NBA career scoring list with his first basket of the game. James’ 34 points boosted his career total to 27,442. Next up is Shaquille O’Neal with 28,956 points. Earlier this season, James passed Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes.

SMITH INJURES THUMB

Cavaliers G J.R. Smith injured his right thumb late in the first half and did not return. He is scheduled to be examined Wednesday in Cleveland.

LONG-RANGE CAVALIERS

Cleveland’s 17 3-pointers matched the most given up by the Bucks this season. The Cavaliers were 17 of 40 beyond the arc, while the Bucks were 7 of 27. It’s the sixth time this season the Cavaliers have made 15 or more 3-pointers in a game, second-highest in the NBA this season. James’ five 3-pointers tied his season high.

 

Report: Spurs re-signing Pau Gasol to three-year contract

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Even after Pau Gasol opted out, there it nearly certain he’d stay with the Spurs.

Now, a deal is done.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I’m a little surprised San Antonio guaranteed Gasol’s salary next season. By rule, it must be within 5% of what he’ll earn this year.

The Spurs could have major flexibility to chase free agents next summer, making keeping the books clean a priority. Their only constraints with Gasol this year are paying him up to 120% of his prior salary (which comes out to $18.6 million), the hard cap ($125,266,000) and whatever expense ownership would endure. So, if Gasol were willing to play ball, San Antonio could have paid him a sizable salary this year and far less – the room exception or even the minimum – next year.

Instead, Gasol’s compensation will be more balanced between the seasons. We’ll see how much he’ll earn.

Gasol remains an effective scorer, in part because he increased his range beyond the 3-point arc. He rebounds well in his area, and his length and basketball intelligence make him a passable defender given his other skills. His immobility can be a major defensive liability in certain matchups, though.

He’s also 37, an age where players can drop off quickly – another reason a one-year deal would’ve been preferable. At least the partial guarantee in the third year will help San Antonio.

Report: Kyrie Irving asked Cavaliers to trade him, blindsiding LeBron James

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Kyrie Irving said the Cavaliers were in a “peculiar place.”

We didn’t realize quite how peculiar.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Kyrie Irving is ready to end his run with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as league sources told ESPN that the guard has asked the team to trade him.

The request came last week and was made to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Irving has expressed that he wants to go play in a situation where he can be a more focal point and no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James, sources said.

James was informed of Irving’s request and was blindsided and disappointed, sources said.

Irving has admitted playing with LeBron has sometimes been rocky. It paid off with a championship in 2016, and I’m sure Irving found the tradeoff worthwhile then.

But the Warriors are so dominant with Kevin Durant. Even a team with LeBron, Irving and Kevin Love is a major underdog. If Irving would prefer to lead a team, it’s much easier to reject a supporting role when it’s so unlikely to culminate in a championship. (It’s also easier with a title already under his belt.)

This shouldn’t quiet the alarms of LeBron leaving next summer. Just because Irving doesn’t want to play with him doesn’t mean LeBron wants to play without Irving. This could push LeBron further out the door.

I also wouldn’t read too much into this signaling LeBron’s intent to stay in Cleveland. Though it’s possible Irving has a read on LeBron’s plan, a trade is the only sure-fire way to escape LeBron – and do it without playing another year with him.

I wouldn’t  tell Irving what would make him happiest. Cleveland is not a premier market, and playing in LeBron’s shadow isn’t always ideal for another star.

But I’m leery of Irving’s ability to lead a successful team. The Cavs stunk before LeBron returned and have stunk when he sits and Irving plays. Irving’s shortcomings – defense, distributing – become more pronounced as his team’s best player.

Maybe Irving is up for the challenge. He clearly wants it.

Then again, Cleveland doesn’t have to grant him the ability to try. He’s locked up for two more years. He can request, but not force, a trade.

This is a difficult time for the Cavaliers, who need visionary leadership. Their general manager has his hands full.

Oh, right.

NBA: Cleveland won’t get 2020 or 2021 All-Star game unless arena renovation begins by Sept. 15

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Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski said Cleveland had been promised an NBA All-Star game if it upgraded its basketball arena.

The city committed taxpayer money to arena upgrades.

So, the Cavaliers are hosting an All-Star game?

Not so fast.

A group has opposed the city spending taxpayer money on arena so the billionaire who profits off the arena doesn’t have to pay for upgrades himself. That money could better serve a wider section of Clevelanders, and the group has tied up the plan in court.

Now, NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum wrote in a letter that Cleveland might not get an All-Star game.

Kevin Cleps of Crain’s Cleveland Business:

The letter was included in a 276-page summary that was filed with the Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday, July 20.

In the letter to Gilbert, Tatum confirms that the NBA has received the sports commission’s bid packet to host the All-Star Game in Cleveland, and says the league will be awarding the 2020 and ’21 events in the near future.

But, he adds, the league “will not be able to consider Cleveland as the host city for NBA All-Star 2020 or 2021 unless construction of The Q’s ‘Transformation’ project begins on or before September 15, 2017.”

Tatum says that the NBA has “already delayed the awarding” of those showcase events to “accommodate Cleveland, and unfortunately we cannot ask the other NBA cities that have held these dates open to wait any longer.”

The NBA is dangling a carrot in front of Cleveland, urging the local government to spend taxpayer money on the billion-dollar business’ arena. It might work. It often does. But Cleveland will be fine without an All-Star game, the economic effects of which are often exaggerated.

As Sept. 15 nears, it appears increasingly likely other cities will get the next couple All-Star games to be assigned. Still, there’s a chance the Cavaliers prevail in court in time.

J.J. Redick: Clippers lost joy

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J.J. Redick and the Clippers seemed done with each other before free agency even began.

Redick – who signed a one-year, $23 million contract with the 76ers – gave Uninterrupted a behind-the-scenes look into his free agency. In the above video, he revealed plenty about his situation in L.A.:

It’s s—y to say this, but I think I’ve had a loss of joy. I look at our team and how we play, and it’s just there’s no joy in it. That bothers me.

On June 29th at about 10 p.m., I got a call from Lawrence Frank from the Clippers. I jokingly call it my breakup call. He just told me they weren’t going to offer me a contract. I wasn’t going to be back.

There’s plenty of blame to go around.

Blame Chris Paul for not relenting enough in his grating perfectionism and being petty. Blame Blake Griffin for being aloof about weight of his actions. Blame Paul and Griffin for waiting too long to get serious about bonding. Blame Doc Rivers for bringing in Austin Rivers and inviting accusations of nepotism. Blame Doc Rivers for too long setting a tone of whining.

Blame a tough Western Conference and injury for keeping a team with championship aspirations from never advancing past the second round. Blame familiarity, which bred contempt over several years with the same core.

Whomever or whatever you blame, the outcome seems tough to dispute: The Clippers looked joyless by the end of their run. Redick saying it only confirms the perception.

I’m curious whether he’ll find more joy in Philadelphia. A new situation will be refreshing, and the 76ers – young and talented – are hungry. Expectations are low after years of tanking, so even modest gains will be celebrated. But they’re also worse than the Clippers were, and losing more often will be an adjustment.

To get a better idea where Redick is coming from as he begins in Philadelphia, I recommend watching the video in full. It’s quite illuminating.