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No Love lost: Cavaliers’ star accepts reduced rule as champs roll

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Kevin Love doesn’t mind being a third wheel or a fourth or even a fifth.

His scoring average has dipped and he’s taking fewer shots. And he’s OK with that. He has not been a major part of Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue’s plans in the playoffs so far. And he’s not complaining about that, either.

In short, Love isn’t demanding more, well, love.

“I told him (Lue), `We’re 8-0. I don’t mind it,”‘ he said Thursday following practice. “If I get five or six shots, if I get 15 shots, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as we win. I’ve been in this position before. We’re having success so I’m happy. Feel good.”

As the Cavaliers wait for the winner of the Boston-Washington series as their opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, Love’s reduced role in his third postseason for Cleveland has become a topic for discussion.

And while the All-Star forward has found himself at the center of previous controversies during his time with the Cavs, there are no hidden meanings or subliminal messages at work this time.

Love was once something of an outsider in Cleveland, but those days are long gone and he’s now a pivotal part of everything for the defending champions, who are undefeated through two rounds.

But don’t be fooled by his statistical slide to this point of the playoffs. That could soon change as well.

When the Cavs resume their march toward a possible second title next week, Lue hinted that Love, who has even sat out the entire fourth quarter in two victories, could be a bigger factor.

“Some of it’s my fault because we haven’t really featured him a lot because of the matchups we had on other teams,” Lue said. “He has been great. His whole mindset is winning and that’s what it’s all about in the playoffs. In this next series, we have some matchups he can definitely take advantage of and it’s on me to make sure we do that.”

During Cleveland’s sweep of Toronto, Love averaged just 12 points – he averaged 19 during the regular season – and he scored just 5 in Game 4 on 2-of-7 shooting.

One of the reasons for Love’s drop-off against Toronto is that he was often guarded by Serge Ibaka, a defensive specialist acquired in part to take away one of Cleveland’s most potent weapons. Also, with the way LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are playing, the Cavs didn’t need as much from Love.

Their “Big 3” has been reduced to a “Terrific 2” but things could be much different in the conference final, where matchups could dictate more minutes for Love.

Love’s ability to post up and pop outside for 3-pointers makes him challenging to cover. Lue knows there may be a chance to get the 6-foot-10 big man more involved.

“The playoffs is a game of matchups,” he said. “That’s why Toronto went out and got Ibaka, to try and slow Kevin down. Maybe we didn’t feature Kevin enough against Toronto, maybe we showed `em too much respect and that’s on me. But next round I’ve got to do a better job of really getting Kevin involved and really establishing Kevin.”

Love’s willingness to accept a lesser role in the postseason is not only a sign of his comfort in Cleveland, but also his willingness to put the team first.

“It’s just growth,” Lue said. “Growth for Kevin, growth for this team and it’s all about winning. When you come here it’s all about one thing, and that’s just trying to win a championship. However you gotta do it, you gotta do it. And it’s about sacrifice. Scoring the basketball is not the most important thing, it’s the small things that Kevin’s been doing that goes uncharted.”

Love’s defense, so often questioned in the past, has been solid and he remains a force on the boards. And, at some point in this postseason, the Cavs may need him to have a 20- or 30-plus-point game.

Cleveland’s halfway to the 16 wins for another title. If eight more follow, Love will likely have a hand in them.

“He hasn’t gotten a lot of touches,” Lue said. “That’s on me to get him more involved. What we had going offensively was working, and we had to stay with it to get to 8-0, where we’re at right now. And he understands that and next series will be totally different.”

 

James Dolan’s MSG threatens to sue Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers

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This story requires a little background.

The Forum in Inglewood was best known for decades as being both fabulous and the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, back from the Jerry West era and through Magic’s “Showtime” teams. Then in 2001 the Lakers moved downtown to Staples Center, and after that the Forum went through some rough times. It was a number of things, including a mega church for a while, but mostly it was empty. Then several years ago the Madison Square Garden company (owned by Knicks owner James Dolan) bought the Forum, fixed it up, and started booking it again. Now the Forum is one of the hot major concert/event spaces in Los Angeles again, and it’s about to get a boost because it’s adjacent to where Stan Kroenke is building the new Los Angeles Rams stadium. Hello gentrification!

Now enter Steve Ballmer. The Clippers’ owner wants out of Staples Center and the Lakers’ shadow, so he has proposed to build his new arena in Inglewood in another space adjacent to the Rams stadium — land that MSG used to lease. As you might imagine, Dolan’s MSG is not thrilled — they are already battling with Staples to fill their space, now a state-of-the-art arena is moving in down the street.

In a proxy Knicks/Clippers battle, MSG may sue to Clippers and Inglewood in an attempt to block the new building. Here is what Dolan’s attorney in the case, Marvin Putnam, told the Daily Breeze in Los Angeles.

“The mayor made it extremely clear that he needed that piece of land back for a kind of ‘Silicon Beach,’ ” said Marvin Putnam, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, which filed the damage claim that serves as a precursor to a lawsuit. “They’re attempting to flat-out trick people.”

(Inglewood Mayor James) Butts declined to comment, and there is no proof that he made those statements. But when Madison Square Garden Co. relinquished the parking lease to the city, its approved contract states that the land would not be used for anything that would hurt the Forum’s business, according to documents.

Right now the Clippers and Inglewood are in an exclusive negotiating agreement to come to terms on the sale and plans for the property. Putnam told the paper — and the Inglewood City Council — that if the deal goes forward they will sue to block it.

It’s impossible to say how this will turn out, although as a former government reporter I will say these cases tend to be decided in favor of the side about to spend a ton of money on a new building.

 

Jaylen Brown’s #drivebydunkchallenge video is awesome

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I love the drive by dunk challenge (if you prefer, the #drivebydunkchallenge), it would be the best thing on NBA Twitter this summer, if it wasn’t for Kyrie Irving.

But the best one yet comes from Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

He steals the ball, and the best part is the guy who comes over like he’s going to stop Brown from throwing it down.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.