Getty Images

Pistons rout Cavaliers 106-90 while LeBron James rests

Leave a comment

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) LeBron James took the night off, and that was exactly the break the Detroit Pistons needed.

Tobias Harris scored 21 points to help the Pistons snap a five-game losing streak by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-90 on Monday night while James sat out resting.

“Any time you go through a stretch like that, you’re just fighting for a win,” Harris said. “It could change a lot, so hopefully we take this one and move forward and continue to build some consistency.”

James missed his third game of the season, and Cleveland has lost all three. The Cavaliers had their five-game winning streak snapped on a night they never led.

Cleveland was playing its fifth game in seven days and coming off a thrilling win Sunday over Golden State. So James sat, and the Pistons took advantage.

“They haven’t played since Friday and they’ve been sitting here waiting for us. Give them credit, because that’s what they are supposed to do,” Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving said. “They knew we were flying in here after the Golden State game, and they were resting up and waiting for us. They jumped on us early, but it might have been different if they were coming off a back-to-back and we had two days of rest.”

The Cavs were also playing their fourth game without starting guard J.R. Smith, who is expected to miss three months because of a broken right thumb.

Detroit scored the first eight points, led 50-44 at halftime and took control near the end of the third quarter. Harris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made 3-pointers early in the fourth, and the Pistons led 82-65.

Kevin Love had 17 points and 14 rebounds for Cleveland.

There was some booing when James was announced as a scratch before the game. Although the crowd was certainly happy to see the Pistons play well, the atmosphere wasn’t quite as raucous as it surely would have been had Detroit routed the Cavs with Cleveland’s top player in the lineup.

“LeBron is obviously a great player who opens up the floor for his teammates, so other guys have to step up,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought we tried to do that tonight, but it didn’t happen.”

The Pistons went 16 of 28 from 3-point range, and Andre Drummond had 11 points and 17 rebounds.

NEW LOOK

Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy changed his starting lineup Friday in an attempt to shake the Pistons out of their funk, starting Jon Leuer in place of Harris. Detroit played decently in that game but lost to Golden State before ending the skid Monday.

“It’s two games,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not going to go crazy, like, deciding that that’s the great move. We didn’t win both games. We’re 1-1. We’ll see how it goes, but I’ve been happy with the two games.”

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson became the first player in franchise history to play in 400 consecutive regular-season games. … Irving had 18 points and eight assists.

Pistons: Detroit fell one 3-pointer short of the franchise record of 17. … The Pistons scored 29 points off 22 Cleveland turnovers. Detroit turned the ball over only 12 times.

FAMILIAR FACE

Cleveland G Kay Felder, a rookie who played collegiately just a few minutes away at Oakland University, scored 11 points in his return to Michigan.

“I thought we played hard. We just gave some young guys a chance to play and looked at a few different things,” Lue said. “The biggest factor in the game was them hitting 16 out of 28 3s. That’s just great shooting.”

Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

Marcus Smart wants to be back for Game 6 vs. Bucks

1 Comment

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been out for some time after injuring his thumb earlier in the year. The absence of one of Boston’s most important guards has been felt even more so after Kyrie Irving went down following knee surgery.

In short, the Celtics would like to have Smart back on the floor.

We’re now close enough that Smart has begun to give solid timeframes to reporters. Speaking to media on Sunday, Smart said that his plan is to be back for Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston took on Milwaukee on Sunday in Game 4.

Via ESPN:

Right now, [a Game 6 return is] the plan and we’re still on the same track,” Smart said before Game 4 on Sunday. “I’ve been doing everything but contact, so I will be able to go and start that.”

Smart said he believes the thumb is ready for contact.

“The surgery did its job,” said Smart, who injured himself March 11 while diving for a loose ball in a game against the Indiana Pacers. “Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.”

The series between the Celtics and Bucks has been tumultuous, a back-and-forth affair as an injury-riddled Boston squad takes on a healthy but offensively-sluggish Milwaukee team. Smart could add a shot of life for Boston in a much-needed way.

The Bucks won Game 4 and the series is now tied, 2-2. Game 6 would be on Thursday, April 26 if need be.

Manu Ginobili leads Spurs over Warriors

2 Comments

Although the San Antonio Spurs were outmatched against the Golden State Warriors, Manu Ginobili was an integral part of the Spurs staving off elimination against the reigning champs on Sunday. San Antonio beat the Warriors, 103-90, to put the series at 3-1.

The 40-year-old wingman scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter in San Antonio as Ettore Messina logged a playoff win at the helm of the team. Gregg Popovich, who sadly lost his wife this past week, did not coach.

Ginobili was 5-of-10 off the bench, adding five assists and three rebounds in the win. LaMarcus Aldridge led all Spurs scorers with 22, notching a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the only Warriors player to score more than 12 points was Kevin Durant, who rose above all scorers with 34 points to go with 13 rebounds. Klay Thompson shot an embarrassing 25 percent from the field, scoring just 12 points.

Ginobili put the dagger on the Warriors with 90 seconds to go, hitting a spinning flip shot over Draymond Green to give San Antonio a 10-point lead.

The series heads back to Oakland for Game 5 with the Spurs trailing, 3-1.

Kevin Durant on Giannis Antetokounmpo: ‘I would tell him to play for himself’

Getty
5 Comments

Kevin Durant was once the big star in a little city. The former Oklahoma City Thunder star now plays for the Golden State Warriors, and has a championship ring to his name after making a switch in 2016.

So Durant has at least some experience similar to that of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is currently leading the charge for the Bucks against the Boston Celtics in the first round, and he’s seen as the future in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo signed a 4-year, $100 million contract in the summer of 2016, so presumably he’ll be in Wisconsin for some time.

Meanwhile, Durant had some advice for Antetokounmpo, should he ask for it. In a feature on ESPN, Durant was quoted as saying he felt Antetokounmpo should be sure to have fun, and to play for himself.

Via ESPN:

What I would say to him, I would tell him to play for himself,” Durant said. “Because he’s the one out there putting in the work, he’s the one out there getting up in the morning staying committed to the game. Obviously [the comments about staying put] sounds good to the fans in Milwaukee and to the ownership, because he cares so much about wanting to please them and play well for them, and I get it. But his career is about him; it’s about whatever he wants to do and however he feels is right for him. And what type of basketball does he want to play? He’s not going to stay in Milwaukee if he’s not having fun playing the game.

That’s some pretty good advice, although factors surrounding Antetokounmpo will likely weigh the same as they did on Durant in OKC. The Bucks presumably need a new coach once their season ends. They’re currently helmed by interim coach Joe Prunty, who took over when Jason Kidd was fired earlier this year.

The Bucks also need to fill out their roster and find a way to stay healthy. The Thunder famously had roster issues (read: the James Harden trade) and eventually the lack of playoff success drove Durant to switch teams.

Milwaukee doesn’t seem close to that kind of juncture, although eventually things will flip for the young Bucks and fans and management will expect some kind of production in the postseason.

Giannis Antetokounmpo beats Celtics with late-game tip-in; series tied 2-2

7 Comments

It was an exciting finish in Milwaukee on Sunday, where the Bucks took home a win on their home court to level the series against the Boston Celtics, 2-2.

The game came down to the wire, with 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon giving the Bucks the lead after a corner 3-pointer with just 33.5 seconds left. The Celtics responded with a sideline out of bounds play that resulted in Al Horford tying the game with free throws.

On their final possession, the Bucks again went to Brogdon, who missed on a layup driving to the left side of the floor. Luckily, Giannis Antetokounmpo was there to follow with the tip-in with just five seconds left.

Via ESPN:

Boston was unable to convert on a final play, and Milwaukee grabbed the win, 104-102.

Game 5 will be in Boston on Tuesday.