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Kyrie Irving’s goodbye to Cleveland doesn’t mention LeBron James


CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyrie Irving did not mention LeBron James, now his former teammate, while thanking Cleveland fans after his trade to Boston was finalized.

Irving, who is now officially a member of the Celtics after the teams completed a blockbuster deal that had stalled, posted a lengthy thank-you note and video on his Instagram account Thursday. While somewhat vague about his intentions, the All-Star guard explained some the reasons that led to him requesting the Cavaliers trade him following six seasons – and three straight trips to the NBA Finals.

"My special thank you to Cleveland" *Link in Bio. My love extends way beyond the court I have for Cleveland and it will always be a place thats special because of the great people and experiences. The Ups and downs, we stand and fight no matter what the circumstances are, and that's what being in Cleveland embodies, it is all Love and a whole lotta pride. To the incredible individuals I've met who support the Cleveland organization and help allow us as Players to feel a special bond to the State/City and shared countless moments with, keep being YOU and know that my appreciation is eternal. Thank you From my whole being for being there as I was a 19 year old kid coming into the league, to now where I start another step in the journey as a 25 year old Evolving man. It will Always be Love and respect Cleveland. "The journey is always the Reward" #KyrieWick

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In a meeting last month with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert, Irving said he wanted out.

“You understand the magnitude of decisions that you make in your life can affect a lot of people all at once,” Irving said in the more than 4-minute video. “And when you get to that point and you understand that the best intentions for you and ultimately to be in your truth, and find out what you really want to do in your life and how you want to accomplish it – that moment comes and you take full advantage of it.

“And there are no other ulterior reasons other than being happy and to be somewhere you feel like it’s an environment that’s conducive for you maximizing your potential.”

Irving apparently felt it was time to get out from under the colossal shadow cast by James. The pair won an NBA title together – the first for any Cleveland team since 1964 – in 2016, but Irving did not single out James in his video or the accompanying note.

Irving’s comments were his first since the trade, which was initially announced on Aug. 22. He was sent to the Celtics for All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the 2018 first-round pick Boston acquired from Brooklyn.

After the Cavaliers had concerns about Thomas’ hip injury, they asked for more and obtained a 2020 second-round pick from the Celtics, completing the deal.

In his video, Irving thanked Gilbert and Cleveland’s ownership group for taking “a chance on a 19-year-old kid that was coming off a stubbed right toe, of being in a very, very immature place at the time.”

The Cavaliers selected Irving with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011 after he played in just 11 games at Duke because of injury.

He was a four-time All-Star with Cleveland and made the biggest basket in franchise history, a 3-pointer in the closing moments of Game 7 in the 2016 Finals that propelled the Cavs to the title.

While Irving and James had their differences, the two seemingly managed to work through them. After the Cavs were beaten by Golden State in this year’s Finals, Irving spoke at length about what it meant to play with James and how much he had learned.

But as he closed his video, Irving didn’t acknowledge their relationship.

“And to my teammates: crazy stories, crazy experiences and just unbelievable human beings, man,” Irving said. “You all know how this brotherhood goes, man. All love.”


Utah’s Donovan Mitchell with shot of night to force OT with Spurs


One of the factors to consider in the Rookie of the Year race: clutch plays.

Down three with less than 10 seconds to go Friday night, the Utah Jazz put the ball in the hands of their rookie playmaker Donovan Mitchell — and he made the play, draining a three to force overtime. It’s an impressive play.

In the clutch this season (last five minutes of a game, within five points), Mitchell has averaged 3.2 shots per contest (by far the most of any rookie) and has a true shooting percentage of 51 percent. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, the other front-runner in the ROY race, averages less than a shot per game in those clutch situations (0.8) and has a true shooting percentage of 66.7 percent.

Mitchell made the big shot, but the Spurs made plenty too, had 45 points on the night from LaMarcus Aldridge, and got the win.


PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?

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The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.

So what team is coming out of the East?

We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.