LeBron James, Kevin Love lead Cavs to 115-93 rout over Suns

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 21 points before sitting out – and dancing – in the fourth quarter, Kevin Love added 21 points and 11 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers stormed away in the second half for a 115-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.

Sluggish for the first 24 minutes, the Cavs opened the second half with a 12-0 run and sent Phoenix to its 17th loss in 19 games.

Cleveland improved to 2-1 under new coach Tyronn Lue, who took over last week when David Blatt was fired halfway through his second season. The win means Lue and the Cavs’ coaching staff will represent the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Game on Feb. 14 in Toronto.

Rookie Devin Booker paced the Suns with 16 points and P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris had 13 apiece.

J.R. Smith added 18 points as Cleveland, which led by 28 in the fourth, handed Phoenix its 12th straight loss on the road.

Lue wants the Cavs to play much faster than they did under Blatt, pushing the ball up the floor and running whenever possible to take advantage of their athleticism. It’s a work in progress – Lue said his players need to be in better shape – and Cleveland struggled trying to find any rhythm for much of the first half.

However, the Cavs, who only led 55-50 at the break, came out flying in the third and quickly pushed their lead to 17.

Love buried a pair of 3-pointers during Cleveland’s 12-0 spurt, which was highlighted by Smith taking a long outlet and bouncing a pass high off the backboard to a trailing James, who grabbed it with two hands and dunked to make it 62-50.

Moments later, James snagged an alley-oop pass from Smith and the Cavs eventually built their lead to 16 after three.

The rout was on, allowing Lue to rest James for the entire final quarter. During a late timeout, James laughed and danced near the huddle around Lue as “Super Freak” blared throughout Quicken Loans Arena.

After a rough few days, the Cavs had some fun again.

TIP-INS

Suns: Coach Jeff Hornacek said F Jon Leuer (back spasms) could return Friday after missing five straight games. … Booker didn’t shy away from committing a hard foul on James in the first quarter, whacking the superstar across the face as he drove down the lane. The officials reviewed the play to determine if it was flagrant before ruling it a common foul. … Hornacek says it makes sense Lue wants the Cavs to play up-tempo. “When LeBron comes out there on the fast break, he’s so big and strong, he’s just going to blast through there and get an easy bucket or you have to foul him,” he said. “The more easy points you can create the better.”

Cavaliers: James needs 15 points to become the 17th player in league history with 26,000. He’ll be the sixth active player to reach the milestone, joining Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. … Lue intends to stick with Tristan Thompson as a starter over Timofey Mozgov, who started 30 games this season for Blatt. … Cleveland officially announced assistant coach Mike Longabardi has joined Lue’s staff. Longabardi previously worked with Lue under Doc Rivers in Boston.

 

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
Jun Sato/WireImage
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.

Report: Pelicans, Nance agree to two-year, $21.6 million extension

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Larry Nance has been a stabilizing influence in New Orleans since coming over mid-season as part of the trade for CJ McCollum. Nance is a versatile player who can play the four or the five, knocks down his threes, is very strong on the glass, can be a disruptive defender in passing lanes, and fits in — and he has the veteran attitude of work this team needs.

So the Pelicans have reached an extension to keep the 29-year-old around for two years past this coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a signing that should make Pelicans fans happy. Importantly, it makes CJ McCollum happy — they are tight and this is something McCollum wanted to see. The money on this deal seems fair, about the league average for a solid rotation player.

Nance is the kind of veteran this team needs considering its young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram (just turned 25), Herb Jones, and guys like Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and others. Nance compared it to the young Lakers teams he was on, but noted that team lacked the same level of veteran leadership this Pelicans team has.

We may see more Nance at the five lineups — small ball with Zion at the four — to close games this season in New Orleans, that could be their best lineup because Nance can defend but also spaces the floor for Zion on offense. Coach Willie Green has a lot of different players and matchups to experiment with.

And now he has the stability of Nance for a few more years.

Durant tired of talking Nets dramatic offseason: ‘I didn’t miss any games’

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No team had an offseason quite like the Brooklyn Nets. First, they would not give a long-term extension to Kyrie Irving, which sent the star guard looking for a new team (but there were no offers that worked for everyone, so he opted in with Brooklyn). Then Kevin Durant asked for a trade, and to gain a little leverage reportedly threw down an ultimatum of him or the coach and GM. No trade could be found — how much the Nets wanted one is up for debate — so he is back in Brooklyn. And all that is not even getting into the return of Ben Simmons, a trade for Royce O’Neal, or anything else.

The Nets drama and how they move past it has been the talk of training camp. The only talk at training camp, it feels like.

When asked Friday if there were any inaccuracies in the reporting of the Nets summer he would like to clear up, Durant sounded weary of rehashing the summer.

The only thing that will start to move the conversation in a new direction is the Nets playing and winning games (they open the preseason Monday against the 76ers). And even those wins will have the shadow of the offseason cast over them. Durant and Irving made this bed.

Part of the fascination is the Nets remain the team hardest to predict in the league. They arguably have the most talented roster in the league and, if everything comes together just right, they can contend for a title. It’s also possible the wheels fall off early and by Christmas the Nets are looking to trade Durant again. Both things feel possible (even if reality most likely lands somewhere in the middle).

That uncertainty about the Nets’ future is the drama that will keep eyeballs on them — which also means more questions about this past offseason. Durant can choose not to answer them, but the questions aren’t going away.