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Bulls ride Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler to 100-92 win over Magic

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Dwyane Wade trusts his natural feel for the game when it’s time to defer and allow Jimmy Butler to take over down the stretch.

The 14-year veteran guard also knows when his new team needs more of him late in the games. He sensed it Tuesday night, scoring seven of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to propel the Chicago Bulls to 100-92 road win over the struggling Orlando Magic.

It was the second straight game that Wade took over in the fourth quarter to lead Chicago to victory.

“Each game is different and it calls for something different,” Wade said of how he and Butler play off each other. “Like I said earlier in the year, I think we are both more dynamic when we are both able to score.”

Both took turns in the fourth as the Bulls pulled away in otherwise close game. Butler scored six of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as they took turns pulling up for jumpers and driving to the basket against a Magic team that was playing without three of its top four guards.

But Wade just seemed to have a little more energy as he played the role of scorer and facilitator in setting up his teammates for easy baskets throughout the fourth quarter.

“He’s been huge lately,” Butler said. “He’s taking and making shots, tough ones at that, passing the ball to the open guy. Me and him both decided to miss a couple of wide-open layups tonight, that’s part of it. But he has been huge.”

His performance took a little pressure off Jerian Grant, who was inserted back into the starting lineup at point guard before the game. Wade’s vision also played a part in backup center Cristiano Felicio‘s 12-point, 10-rebound performance.

“He is obviously a guy who can get it going at any time,” Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said of Wade. “He had three big buckets going into halftime to get him some confidence and little rhythm and then was awesome in the fourth quarter to close the game.”

TIP-INS

Bulls: Chicago shook up its point guard position before Tuesday night’s game. Grant replaced Carter-Williams in the starting lineup. Hoiberg said Carter-Williams, who didn’t play, has been demoted and will come off the bench and did not immediately name a backup, although Rajon Rondo was the first off the bench.

Magic: Injuries caused the Magic to shuffle their starting lineup for the second game in a row. With Augustin out with an ankle injury from Sunday’s loss to Golden State, Vogel shifted C.J. Watson, who started at shooting guard Sunday, to backup point guard and coming off the bench. Jeff Green and Aaron Gordon both started at the wings to match up better against Butler and Wade, Vogel said. Fournier, the starting shooting guard, missed his sixth straight game with a sore right foot. …The MRI on Augustin’s sprained ankle came back negative but he is listed as day-to-day. … Meeks had surgery on his right thumb Tuesday morning and is out indefinitely.

DEPLETED BACKCOURT

With Evan Fournier, Jodie Meeks and D.J. Augustin all out with injuries, the Magic’s backcourt struggled.

That was most evident in the 19 turnovers the team committed. Point guard Elfrid Payton, who had to play 38 minutes because of the lack at the position, committed eight of the costly turnovers.

“Well, they’re good at turning teams over and we know we can’t over penetrate,” said Orlando coach Frank Vogel. “But we’re missing our shooting guards so it’s a little bit of a challenge with what we have in terms of perimeter shooting.”

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

Felicio, who struggled with catching the ball in the paint early in the season, thrived underneath most of the night when Chicago went to its smaller lineup.

He defended Nikola Vucevic decently in the paint and when Butler and Wade found him for lobs inside he made good, converting four of six.

UP NEXT

Bulls: Chicago returns home to take on the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Magic: Orlando hits the road for a three-game stretch with Boston as the first stop on Friday night.

Lakers hire Kardashian trainer Gunnar Peterson

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers’ new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.

Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.

Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.

The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.

Report: Bucks interested in Cavaliers GM David Griffin

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The Magic hired Jeff Weltman, and the Hawks are reportedly close to hiring Travis Schlenk.

In other words, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin – who’s still without a contract for next season – lost his leverage with other teams.

But to the rescue are the Bucks, who will not necessarily promote assistant general manager Justin Zanik to replace Orland-bound general manager John Hammond.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Multiple sources told cleveland.com that the Bucks, who lost general manager John Hammond to the Orlando Magic this week, have interest in Griffin, 47.

Griffin and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert have spoken about continuing their partnership in recent days, sources said, though no agreement was reached.

I still think Griffin stays in Cleveland. He helped assemble a championship contender, and he has LeBron Jamesendorsement. Plus, the Cavaliers can afford him.

But whomever gets the Milwaukee job will inherit a roster stocked with promising young talent like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker. The Bucks wouldn’t be a bad fallback option for Griffin – if he can’t use them to get a deal with the Cavs.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: Celtics’ sets harder to defend than Warriors’

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With the Cavaliers up 3-1 on the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, most basketball observers are focused on Cavs-Warriors III in the NBA Finals.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue is more concerned with Boston, which scored surprisingly well in Games 3 and 4 after losing Isaiah Thomas to injury.

Lue, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“I don’t even think about them,” Lue said of the Warriors to a small group of traveling Cleveland beat writers following the Cavs’ Game 4 win on Tuesday. “We’re just focused on Boston. The stuff they’re running, it’s harder to defend than Golden State’s [offense] for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it’s a totally different thing.”

Wait, the Isaiah Thomas-less 53-win Celtics are harder to defend than the Kevin Durant-supercharged 67-win Warriors? Come again, Coach?

“Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff, but these guys are running all kinds of s—,” Lue said of Boston coach Brad Stevens’ schemes. “I’ll be like, ‘F—.’ They’re running all kinds of s—, man. And Brad’s got them moving and cutting and playing with pace, and everybody is a threat. It’s tough, you know, it’s tough.”

I think Lue means in a very specific way – getting his players into proper position. And in that regard he might be right.

I also think the Warriors will take this in the broadest, most offensive way possible. That’s just the nature of this rivalry.

Without Thomas, Stevens has been forced to diversify Boston’s offense. The Cavaliers, who prepared for a very different scheme, were caught off guard and are adjusting on the fly.

That’s a real challenge. But framing it as the central issue sells Golden State short.

Even if it’s harder for Lue to get his players into proper position against the Celtics, the Warriors’ surplus talent – including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – more than makes up for it. And it’s not as if Golden State runs a basic scheme.

So why did Lue say this?

He didn’t think the travelling Cleveland beat writers would publish his candid remarks? He didn’t convey his thoughts clearly? He naively didn’t consider how this would motivate the Warriors? All are plausible.

Another theory: Lue is trying to plant a seed that acting Golden State coach Mike Brown, whose known (fairly or not) for his simplistic offensive schemes, is holding back the Warriors. If Steve Kerr doesn’t return, resentment of Brown is one of the few things that could tear apart a dominant Golden State team.

Richard Jefferson: LeBron James was sick during Cavaliers-Celtics Game 3

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LeBron James was inexplicably bad in the Cavaliers’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics on Sunday.

Except maybe it was explicable.

Cleveland forward Richard Jefferson, via Fox Sports Ohio

I know he won’t talk about it, so I’ll give my big guy a shout. Deron Williams missed shootaround this morning, because he had like a little bug, just really lethargic, had no energy. And I think that’s what Bron had. And sometimes these little bugs can go around.

When Deron didn’t show up to shootaround, it kind of started clicking in his head. Because for him it was more of like, “I don’t know why I was so lethargic, why I had no energy, I had nothing.” And so, these little things happen. There was no panic.

Look, he was lethargic. They hit a bunch of tough shots. If Marcus Smart doesn’t go 7-for-10 from 3, then we’re not even talking about it.

I don’t know whether LeBron was truly sick or Jefferson is just trying to help a teammate’s reputation. It can be both.

LeBron was better in Game 4, but not quite right.

If he’s dealing with a minor illness, that could clear up by Game 5 tomorrow. It should especially clear up by the Finals, which begin June 1. That’d be great news for the Cavs, who have no chance against the Warriors if LeBron isn’t at full strength.

The uncertainty of why LeBron hit a slump now of all times loomed over Cleveland’s playoff future. But Jefferson provided reason for the Cavaliers to breathe easy.