Getty

LeBron James, Cavaliers beat East-leading Raptors … again

5 Comments

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James scored 27 points, the last coming on a sensational layup, and the Cleveland Cavaliers gave the Toronto Raptors another reminder of what could lie ahead in the playoffs with a 112-106 victory on Tuesday night.

James added nine rebounds, six assists and helped put the Raptors away down the stretch with an artistic three-point play.

It was Cleveland’s second win in two weeks over the Eastern Conference’s top team, whose lead over second-place Boston continues to shrink. This time, the Cavaliers were much healthier than when they beat the Raptors on March 21 despite missing five rotational players and coach Tyronn Lue.

Jose Calderon added 19 points and Kevin Love had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavs, who are 9-1 since March 17.

DeMar DeRozan scored 19 and Jonas Valanciunas 17 for Toronto, which will host Boston on Wednesday. The Raptors didn’t quit and scored eight points in 34 seconds before the Cavs put it away with four free throws. Kyle Lowry scored only five on 2-of-11 shooting.

Toronto was still within 11 in the fourth when James drove the baseline, hung in the air and spun in a reverse layup while being fouled. He pounded his chest and screamed as he walked near Toronto’s bench and coach Dwane Casey, who has seen the three-time champion make that kind of play so many times before.

The Cavaliers still aren’t at full strength. Starting point guard George Hill missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle and Lue was in attendance but only in an advisory role as he remains on medical leave.

The Raptors are in the midst of a grueling three-game stretch against Boston, Cleveland and the Celtics again that Casey believes will toughen his team.

“It’s good for us,” Casey said. “Last year we were playing against some teams that were so-called rebuilding and we were winning by 15-20 points. It did not get us ready for the playoffs. These games, playing against a good team like Cleveland, a good team like Boston will help us get ready, harden us, showing some things we need to be better in.”

They still need to be better against the Cavs, who have eliminated them from the past two playoffs.

Cleveland’s ball movement was excellent in the second quarter and so was its accuracy.

The Cavs made their first five 3-pointers – in less than four minutes – and opened a 16-point lead. Love dropped three of the 3s with the others by Rodney Hood and Calderon, who made his first six field-goal attempts and scored 14 in the opening half.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Lowry attended Monday night’s NCAA title game in San Antonio and the proud Villanova alum wore a championship cap to Tuesday’s shootaround. … Remain one win shy of matching the franchise record of 56 wins set in 2015-16. … Dropped to 3-5 since winning 11 straight from Feb. 26-March 16.

Cavaliers: James passed Kobe Bryant with his 942nd 20-point game, third-most in league history. … Won their seventh straight home game. … Kyle Korver played for the first time since March 19. He was excused to be with family following the death of his 27-year-old brother and had been slowed by a sore right foot. … Hill should be back soon. He did conditioning and shooting drills following shootaround and wasn’t favoring his ankle.

UP NEXT

Raptors: Host Boston on Wednesday.

Cavaliers: Host Washington on Thursday.

Kelly Oubre: Raptors’ Delon Wright ‘doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home’

AP Photo/Nick Wass
1 Comment

Delon Wright made some big plays down the stretch to help the Raptors to a Game 5 win over the Wizards last night. With Toronto up 3-2 in the first-round series and the home team winning the first five games, Game 6 is tomorrow in Washington.

Oubre, via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

“The next game is a different story. We’re back at home. Just like Delon doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home,” Oubre said, sharing inspiration coupled with a touch of an insult. “You can kind of chalk it up as the same story.”

Wright decided not to escalate the conflict when reporters asked him about it.

Wright has been much better in Toronto than Washington in this series. His average game score is 14.7 at home and 5.7 on the road.

But that’s such a small sample. During the regular season, there wasn’t nearly such a big split between Wright’s average game score at home (8.4) and on the road (6.9).

For what it’s worth, Oubre has a somewhat similar home-road average-game-score split, both in this series (9.4 at home, 6.3 on the road) and during the regular season (8.1 at home, 7.5 on the road). Which Oubre basically acknowledged in his diss of Wright/self-own.

This is pretty typical Oubre – hyper-competitive verging on out of control. It’s fun regardless.

Let’s just say he’s right, though, and the Wizards win Game 6. Game 7 would be Sunday in Toronto, where, by Oubre’s own admission, Wright plays well and the Raptors are undefeated in the postseason. Then what?

Rumor: Bulls expected to wait until 2019 for free-agency splash

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski
Leave a comment

The Bulls tanked so hard this year, the NBA warned them to cut it out. It was a rare instance of the league responding to actual tanking measures rather than just talk of preferring to lose.

Bulls executive John Paxson, via Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

“We did this year what we felt was in the longterm best interests of the Bulls,” Paxson said. “It’s not a situation that any of us want to ever be in again; it goes against everything as a competitive person that you believe in; but it’s the way the system is set up.”

Chicago could try to turn around quickly. The Bulls project to have about $25 million in cap space this summer – enough to land a good player or two.

Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago:

The assumption in league circles is the Bulls will wait until 2019 to make their big move when players like Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving could be on the market, and might consider signing with the Bulls after watching another year of development from LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn.

This is the wise course. It’s unlikely Chicago can lure anyone good enough to lift such a young core quickly. The Bulls are better off remaining patient – and bad, which will net another high draft pick as Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn develop.

This is also probably the course thrust upon Chicago. Even if they wanted to, the Bulls probably can’t land a premier free agent this summer. Star free agents can see the same problems with Chicago trying for a quick fix and will likely avoid the situation.

There’d be no harm in trying for top free agents like LeBron James or even Paul George. But the Bulls will probably be relegated to 2019 if they want to sign someone meaningful. Better they realize that than make a desperate attempt for relevance this year.

Rich Cho on Trail Blazers getting swept: ‘Being a previous Portland GM, that didn’t disappoint me’

AP Photo/The Charlotte Observer, Jeff Willhelm
1 Comment

In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.

Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.

John Canzano of The Oregonian:

That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.

Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.

Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

AP Photo/Margaret Bowles
5 Comments

Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.