LeBron powers Cavaliers to easy 108-83 win over Wizards

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CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James didn’t do anything cryptic or dramatic.

He simply changed positions and the Cavaliers shifted into high gear.

James moved to power forward in Cleveland’s “small” starting lineup and nearly recorded a triple-double in three quarters, Kyrie Irving scored 21 points and the Cavs avenged a recent ugly loss to Washington by throttling the Wizards 108-83 on Friday night.

Cleveland was blown out at Washington on Sunday, when James watched from the bench and the Wizards built a 30-point lead.

But with James energized after not playing since Monday, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue utilized a smaller, speedier lineup that didn’t include Kevin Love and the Cavs snapped Washington’s four-game winning streak.

James finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists before resting the entire fourth quarter. More importantly, the Cavs may have found a wrinkle that could help them play against Golden State if the teams meet in the NBA Finals again.

“It was great for us,” said Lue, who rested Love and started Iman Shumpert in James’ usual spot at small forward. “The guys bought into playing that way, that style of basketball. LeBron did a great job just spreading the floor, running and setting picks. And when he gets the rebound and takes it off the glass, it’s tough for teams to get back and get matched.”

Timofey Mozgov scored 14 points, 12 on dunks, for Cleveland, which unveiled a look which Lue plans to use more often in the coming weeks as the Cavs prepare for the playoffs.

“It worked to our favor for sure,” James said of the lineup change, which had him at a position he grew accustomed to in Miami. “Our offense is a lot faster, a little bit more precise with me at the four. I’m going to be setting a lot more transition and half-court pick and rolls. I know I can either get my guy open or if they put two on the ball I’m able to make a play, able to be a quarterback, so it definitely worked really well for us tonight.”

John Wall scored 17 and Markieff Morris 13 for the Wizards, who missed a chance to move into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s not a step back,” Wall said as the Wizards dropped to 7-3 since the All-Star break. “It’s just an old-fashioned tail whipping. That’s what they gave us.”

Since their last game, the Cavs had been surrounded by drama.

During a break in Cleveland’s schedule, James raised some eyebrows by making a two-day trip to visit good friend and former teammate Dwyane Wade in South Florida, and the superstar’s two mysterious tweets on Twitter led to speculation the Cavs were having internal issues.

But back on the court, the East’s top team played with purpose and easily took care of a Washington squad they could face in the playoffs.

The Cavs led by 17 at half, pushed their advantage to 21 in the third and led by 30 in the fourth, allowing Lue to keep James off his feet for the last 12 minutes.

With Love out, Lue used the “small ball” look, which he had been toying with trying for weeks. Lue plans to return his regular starting lineup for Saturday’s game against Boston, but he now has another option.

WALL’S ANKLE

Wall rolled left his ankle while making a layup and sat out the fourth. He expects to play Saturday against Indiana.

HALFTIME HONOR

The Cavs honored the 40th anniversary of the 1975-76 “Miracle in Richfield” team featuring Austin Carr and Campy Russell during halftime. Coach Bill Fitch’s squad beat Washington in an unforgettable seven-game playoff series.

TIP-INS

Wizards: F/G Alan Anderson sat out with a sore left ankle. He’s expected to return for Saturday’s game against Indiana. … G Bradley Beal has been coming off the bench the past 10 games and the switch has balanced Washington’s scoring. Beal is still working his way back from stress fracture in his leg. “He gives us a scoring punch,” coach Randy Wittman said. “It’s just an easier situation with his minutes’ restriction. I don’t want to sit him long periods of time. We’re going to continue to do that. He’s getting back to being aggressive, taking it to the basket.”

Cavaliers: Lue wants to get all his starters some rest before the postseason push, but he will not sit anyone for Saturday’s matchup against Boston. The Celtics beat the Cavs 104-103 on their last visit to Cleveland. “We want to play well against a team that’s been playing extremely well as of late,” James said. “So, we look forward to the challenge.” … Love had only missed one other game this season, sitting out Feb. 6 against New Orleans with a bruised thigh.

UP NEXT

Wizards: Host Indiana on Saturday.

Cavaliers: Host Boston on Saturday.

Harassment charges against Lakers’ DeMarcus Cousins reportedly dropped

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DeMarcus Cousins got married this past summer, but his 7-year-old son didn’t attend the wedding due to a dispute with the boy’s mother and Cousin’s ex-girlfriend, Christy West. That blew up into an ugly situation where Cousins was ultimately charged in Alabama with a third-degree harassing communications misdemeanor, tied to the domestic situation.

Now, those charges have been dismissed, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Cousins remains out for the Lakers after tearing his ACL this past summer, and he is not expected to return. Because of the surprisingly good play of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee — particularly as mobile defenders who can show out on the perimeter and recover — the Lakers have not missed Cousins’ presence.

I have no specific knowledge of this case or the truth of what happened between Cousins and his ex. As far as I know, there was nothing to this and should have been dismissed.

However, as someone who spent a chunk of years on a police/courts beat as a young reporter, I feel the need to add this: Domestic violence/harassment cases are exceedingly difficult to prosecute. It can be a he said/she said situation, and unfortunately, often the abused women recant their testimony (whether it was true or not). The situations are a complex mix of emotions and fear, ones that make getting justice difficult. Talk to any prosecutor (or long-time police beat officer) about domestic violence cases and they will tell you horrifying stories. It is a situation that, as a nation, we need to address.

High schoolers Bronny James, Zaire Wade have more national TV games than many NBA teams

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The Wizards are entertaining in their own special way.

Washington games have averaged 241 points this season (120 for the Wizards, 121 for their opponents). That’s the highest mark in nearly two decades. The 1990-91 Nuggets scored 120 while allowing 131 points per game.

But Washington rarely gets nationally televised games.

On the other hand, Sierra Canyon School – which features Bronny James (son of LeBron James) and Zaire Wade (son of Dwyane Wade) – will have plenty of nationally televised games. That drew the attention of at least one Wizard.

Isaiah Thomas:

Of course, the Wizards aren’t alone in getting less national exposure than Bronny and Zaire. On the latest, “Off the Dribble,” Jacques Slade gets into all the NBA teams and stars on national television less often than Sierra Canyon. (For more, watch the video above where Slade also gets into Carmelo Anthony’s Blazers debut.)

The good news: Wizards games can still be found on NBC Sports Washington.

Danny Ainge: Celtics fans shouldn’t boo Kyrie Irving

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Kyrie Irving, if he gets healthy, will return to Boston with the Nets on Wednesday.

How will he be received?

Celtics president Danny Ainge said he doesn’t handle game operations, but if it were up to him, Irving would get a tribute video. It was pointed out fans would boo throughout the video.

Ainge on 98.5 The Sports Hub, via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston:

“I understand all that. I just think it’s a bad conclusion to come to. It’s not really fair.”

“I think that’s a sad commentary,” Ainge said. “But I understand it just because I know there’s been a lot of negative attention.”

“It was a very good situation with Kyrie,” Ainge said. “Kyrie was in a good place, and things were looking good for a year and a half and they went sour.

“… He gets blamed for a lot of the sour of last year, and I just think it’s much, much bigger than that. So, I don’t have any grudges against Kyrie. I’m grateful that he gave us a chance and it didn’t work out. It wasn’t his fault things didn’t work out. It was a lot of people’s fault, including my own.”

Boston fans should boo the hell out of Kyrie Irving. He pledged to re-sign, brooded through last season, selfdestructed at the end then left.

There might have been legitimate personal stressors in his life. We can still have compassion for Irving as a human being.

But as a character in the NBA’s great drama, he is absolutely a villain in Boston.

Celtics fans should get at least a night to treat him accordingly.

Report: Knicks lured David Fizdale with plan of signing marquee free agents

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The Knicks have recently oscillated between patiently rebuilding around young players and chasing stars.

When hiring David Fizdale as coach last year, New York was apparently focused on the latter plan.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fizdale had other offers.

They pitched him on they were going to go out and get big-time free agents.

Fizdale might have looked like the type of coach stars want. When the Grizzlies fired him, several big-name players – including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Damian Lillardshowed support. But it was always a foolish idea to hire a coach based on his ability to lure stars. It’s such a minor factor for elite free agents.

It was also absurd to view Fizdale as clear attraction to stars. He connected to stars as an assistant coach with the Heat. When he became a head coach, changing the nature of the coach-player relationship, he feuded with then-Memphis star Marc Gasol.

The Knicks needed a good coach. Maybe they hired Fizdale for the right reasons. Maybe not.

But the execution of their pitch has fallen flat. New York struck out on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard last summer. The Knicks also didn’t trade for Anthony Davis.

Fizdale is stuck losing with a lackluster roster. As a result, his job is in jeopardy.

He deserves some culpability for trusting a Jim Dolan-Steve Mills regime to actually land stars. New York’s mismanagement is well-known throughout the league.

If Fizdale had other offers and chose the Knicks, that’s on him.