D’Angelo Russell drops 40, young Lakers make rested Cavaliers work for win

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LOS ANGELES — Tyronn Lue was channeling Apollo Creed’s trainer from Rocky: “He doesn’t know it’s a damn show! He thinks it’s a damn fight!”

“Sometimes you have to understand it is not a show but a competition,” the Cavaliers’ coach said after his team came from behind to beat the Lakers Sunday night at Staples Center. “When we get to L.A. and play teams like this we consider it a show instead of a competition. When you get down early it hurts your confidence, and now you got to fight and try and win your game.”

The Cavaliers coasted defensively through three quarters, the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell got hot, and it took LeBron James taking over like an MVP for a stretch in the fourth — and Kyrie Irving dropping 46 — for Cleveland to get out of the building with a 125-120 win.

The Cavaliers should have been rested since LeBron, Irving, and Kevin Love all having sat out on Saturday against the Clippers (Irving and Love were coming off injuries, the Cavaliers didn’t want to play them in a back-to-back, so they chose to have them go against the Lakers). This is a game the Cavaliers should have won easily on paper.

They got the win, but it wasn’t easy. Call it treating the game like a show or just a late-season malaise, the Cavaliers weren’t at their peak and the Lakers took full advantage.

“We was out of sync a little bit, but they shot the ball extremely well,” LeBron said.

Russell got the start with Nick Young battling the flu, and he was knocking down threes and dropped a career-high 40 points.

“Honestly, I feel like I was aggressive from the jump,” Russell said. “Usually when I get myself in trouble turning the ball over it’s because I’m not being aggressive.”

“(Russell is) a great young player, I’ve been playing against him for a few years in the league and I understand what he means to the Lakers,” Irving said.

Lakers’ coach Luke Walton started Russell and Clarkson in the backcourt together, a pairing that had been a disaster most of the season — outscored by 22 points per 100 possessions in 464 minutes coming into the game — but it worked for three quarters this time.

The Clarkson/Russell pairing was also -14 Sunday because in the end they don’t defend well and no answer for Irving.

Cleveland’s big three combined to score 101 points, they carried the day for the Cavs, who in the end get the road win they wanted and a split in Los Angeles. It wasn’t pretty, but on the road late in the season a win is a win.

 

Matthew Dellavedova steals pass, hits wild scoop shot at buzzer (VIDEO)

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Matthew Dellavedova is a hustler. Everybody knows that. Well, unless you want to argue he’s more about grit. It’s really your call.

But against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Dellavedova came through with whatever you want to call it — hustle, grit, moxie, gumption.

As the first quarter wound down and the Celtics tried to inbound the ball, Dellavedova spied his opponents rolling the basketball in order to save time on the clock.

That allowed the Australian native to fly in and do this:

That’s a steal, a scoop, and a score all within 1.2 seconds.

Milwaukee won Game 4 and evened the series with the Celtics, 2-2.

Cavaliers tie series with Pacers in Indiana, 2-2

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Sunday night’s game between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was raucous. Bankers Life Fieldhouse was rocking, and despite Indiana’s best effort to put back seemingly every offensive board it encountered, LeBron James‘ 32 points was just too much to overcome.

Facing the possibility of going down 3-1 in the first round, the Cavaliers pulled out the win, 104-100, and sent the series back to Ohio for Game 5.

The game came down to the final period following a surge by the Pacers to end the third quarter. The teams were tied several times midway through the fourth, but a tip shot by Thaddeus Young wth 6:13 left gave the Pacers the lead as fans in Indiana went wild.

Cleveland then came roaring back. At the three-minute mark, James drove to the basket and scored. Thirty seconds later, Kyle Korver hit a big-time 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by four points, a mark the Pacers couldn’t recover from.

LeBron scored again with 1:52 left, and despite some weird late-game antics — featuring none other than Lance Stephenson — the Cavaliers were able to remain resolute down the stretch.

James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Kyle Korver added 18 points on 4-of-9 shooting from deep, and Kevin Love had five points with 11 boards.

Victor Oladipo struggled for Indiana, scoring 17 points but shooting just 25 percent from the floor. Seven Pacers finished in double-digits, with Young notching an impressive double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Game 5 will be played in Cleveland on Wednesday, April 25.

Wizards beat Raptors in Game 4, tie series at 2-2 heading to Toronto

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The Toronto Raptors were far and away the best team in the Eastern Conference this season. The Washington Wizards were … well, very Wizard-y.

So considering their regular seasons, the fact that Washington was able to tie the first round series between the two teams at 2 games apiece on Sunday is pretty astonishing.

Bradley Beal had 31 points and five rebounds for the Wizards while teammate John Wall added 27 points to go along with a whopping 14 assists. Washington shot an impressive 41 percent from 3-point range as four of five starters finished in double-digit scoring.

Despite Beal’s performance, it was Wall who saved the day for the Wizards. Beal was disqualified after fouling out with around five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Beal didn’t agree with the call, and could be seen throwing a towel near the Washington bench.

For his part, Wall either scored or assisted on 10 of the Wizards’ final 14 points of the game. That helped stave off the likes of DeMar DeRozan, who led all scorers with 35 points.

The series heads back to Toronto for Game 5, which will be played on Wednesday, April 25.

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

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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.