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Spurs 118, Cavs 115; Jason Lloyd's 14 thoughts on a bad punch and a blown hammer

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 22, 2017

CLEVELAND: Fourteen thoughts for 14 rebounds from Tristan Thompson in Saturday’s 118-115 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs…

1.    LeBron James stood annoyed at his teammates on at least two separate occasions Saturday night: When Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson botched a play late in overtime and when Kevin Love fired a pass to Kawhi Leonard when he tried saving the ball from going out of bounds.

2.    First, the “Punch Snap Hammer” play that ESPN’s Dave McMenamin brilliantly broke down. The Cavs tried running it again trailing 116-113 with 24 seconds left. Coming out of a timeout, or ATO (after timeout) is the perfect time to pull it off. But Irving and/or Thompson botched the play.

3.    Thompson was supposed to turn around in the lane and set the screen on Danny Green, allowing Irving to flare to the corner. Only Thompson never set the screen and instead went to the basket. Even without the screen, Irving had the chance to get to the corner, but instead stood still.

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Kawhi Leonard scores career-high 41 points in Spurs' 118-115 win over Cavs

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 21, 2017

CLEVELAND -- Kawhi Leonard capped his career-high, 41-point night with a dunk in the final seconds and the San Antonio Spurs held on for a 118-115 overtime victory Saturday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

LeBron James tied up Leonard for a jump ball with 13 seconds left and the Cavs down 3. James won the tip, but the ball was headed out of bounds when Kevin Love saved it and fired it behind his back inbounds. Leonard caught the pass and sprinted to the other end for the dunk and the clincher with four seconds left.

After LaMarcus Aldridge missed a pair of free throws in the final second of overtime and the Cavs called timeout, Kevin Love missed a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer that would’ve forced double overtime. Love shot just 3 of 11 from the 3-point line Saturday.

The Cavs had plenty of chances late, but went scoreless for about two minutes late in overtime. James received an inbounds pass with 24 seconds left and a chance to tie with a 3-pointer. He fired a bounce pass to the corner, but no one was standing there on the busted play. James expected Kyrie Irving to cut to the corner, but he never did and James was charged with his seventh turnover of the night.

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Transcript: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich calls Trump a bully, rips those around him

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 21, 2017

CLEVELAND: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called President Donald Trump a bully and drew a line between respecting the office of the presidency and respecting the man holding office in more blistering comments Saturday prior to San Antonio’s game against the Cavs.

Here is a full transcript of Popovich's remarks made in response to the women's marches held across the country Saturday in protest of Trump:

“The march today was great. That message is important and it could have been a whole lot of groups marching. And somebody said on TV, ‘What’s their message?’ Well, their message is obvious. Our president comes in with the lowest (approval) rating of anybody whoever came into the office. And there’s a majority of people out there, since Hillary won the popular vote, that don’t buy his act. And I just wish that he was more – had the ability to be more – mature enough to do something that really is inclusive rather than just talking and saying, ‘I’m going to include everybody.’ He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it. But so far, we’ve got (to) a point where you really can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth. You really can’t.

“All those thousands that were over on the rooftops after 9/11? There were like two. And, ‘We went to Hawaii and checked (Barack Obama’s) birth certificate and investigators couldn’t believe what they found!’ There wasn’t anything there. That kind of thing. So, it’s over and over and over again.

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Cavs 118, Suns 103; Jason Lloyd's 36 thoughts on LeBron's passing, All-Star ballots and the Spurs

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 20, 2017

CLEVELAND: Thirty-six thoughts for 36 rebounds in Thursday’s 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns…

1.     Tyronn Lue thought the best way to remind the Cavs about the good old days was with some visual reinforcement. In this case, the good old days were a few weeks ago when the ball was moving and the assist totals were climbing.

2.     Since the start of the new year, the Cavs were last in the league in assists, averaging 16.3 per game. Through the end of 2016, they ranked 10th and averaged 22.6. Factoring in 3-pointers, Lue figured that’s a difference of about 17 points a night.

3.     The reasons why can vary, but it became clear by the end of the trip that LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were holding onto the ball too long at times, there wasn’t enough movement offensively and the ball wasn’t swinging from side-to-side. The Suns are hardly the ’85 Bears in terms of defensive tenacity, but for one night the Cavs played the way they’re accustomed to playing.  

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LeBron James falls one rebound shy of triple-double in Cavs' 118-103 win over Suns

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 19, 2017

CLEVELAND: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving celebrated being named Eastern Conference All-Star starters the only way they know how: They shined in the Cavs’ 118-103 victory Thursday against the Phoenix Suns.

James scored 21 points, matched his season-high with 15 assists and grabbed nine rebounds to fall one shy of a triple-double. Irving scored 26 points for the Cavs, who broke out of a shooting funk to beat the Suns for the second time in 11 days. They won for just the second time in their last five games.

The Cavs led by 21 late in the first half and were never really threatened by a Suns team with the worst record in the Western Conference.

James and Irving were named All-Star starters right around tip-off on a night Kevin Love missed the game with a sore back. Love was considered a game-time decision after he missed the second half of Monday’s blowout loss to Golden State. He didn’t believe he’d miss any time with it, but he didn’t participate in contact drills during Wednesday’s practice and then couldn’t make it through Thursday’s shootaround.

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LeBron James, Kyrie Irving named All-Star starters

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 19, 2017

CLEVELAND: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were both elected Thursday to start the All-Star game for the Eastern Conference. It is James' 13th appearance (all starts) while Irving has made the team for the fourth time in his six seasons. 

James led all players in voting and will become the fifth player in NBA history to start at least 13 All-Star games, joining Kobe Bryant (18), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (14), Bob Cousy (13) and Michael Jordan (13). Irving, meanwhile, won the All-Star MVP award in 2014. 

James acknowledged it means more to be the top vote getter yet again. 

"I think from the standpoint of people enjoy the way I play the game, they respect the way I play the game and at this point in my career I'm still doing something right," James said. "Makes me proud, makes my family proud and my support system so it's cool in that sense."

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Kevin Love will not play vs. Suns, James Jones to start in his place

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 19, 2017

CLEVELAND: Kevin Love will not play Thursday when the Cavs host the Phoenix Suns, coach Tyronn Lue said. James Jones will start in his place.

Love did not play in the second half of Monday’s blowout loss at Golden State because of tightness in his lower back. He didn’t believe it was serious and said after the game he didn’t believe he’d miss any time.

“He came in from trying to do half of the activities yesterday and today he couldn’t get through shootaround,” Lue said Thursday. “We have to sit him out.”

This will mark Jones' first start in nearly two years. Lue said he considered starting Kyle Korver and shifting LeBron James to power forward, but settled on the little-used Jones. 

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Kevin Love considered questionable for Thursday's game against Suns

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 18, 2017

INDEPENDENCE: Kevin Love did not participate in any contact portion of practice Wednesday and is considered questionable for Thursday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.

Love sat the second half of Sunday’s blowout loss at Golden State because of tightness in his lower back. Love said it wasn’t serious and he didn’t expect to miss any time, but the Cavs have been conservative even with minor ailments this season. Love’s back has given him trouble before.

“He only went through half the practice,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “Not sure how he’s going to feel tomorrow.”

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Warriors 126, Cavs 91: Jason Lloyd's 28 thoughts on blood, beatdowns and rivalries

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 17, 2017

OAKLAND, CALIF.: Twenty-eight thoughts for 28 defensive rebounds in Monday’s 126-91 loss to the Golden State Warriors…

1.     The stream of blood randomly trickled out of Tristan Thompson’s shirtless chest in the locker room well after the storm. LeBron James noticed it and pointed it out to Thompson, who took a Kleenex and dabbed it away. And so here is where it will lie until June. Each team has been cut, each team has bled this season at the hands of the other. It’s how it should be.

2.     Now we wait.

3.     The Cavs were blitzed off the floor in the opening minutes Monday and never recovered, suffering their most lopsided loss of the season to the team that also handed them their worst defeat last season with another Martin Luther King Day belting. As dreary as things seemed then, after the Warriors crushed them by 34 at the Q, we know how the rest of those chapters were written.

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Warriors exact revenge, blitz Cavs 126-91 to end four-game skid in this series

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 16, 2017

OAKLAND, CALIF.: There was no dramatic comeback this time, no taunts of 3-1 comebacks and no jabs over blowing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. This time the Golden State Warriors punished the Cavaliers from start to finish with a convincing 126-91 beatdown on Martin Luther King day that included another memorable confrontation between LeBron James and Draymond Green.

The Warriors blitzed the Cavs in transition, outscoring them 37-13 in fast-break points. They built a double-digit lead just eight minutes into the game and piled on the rest of the night, expanding the lead to 39 in the fourth quarter. The Cavs stumbled through a miserable time shooting and continued an ongoing problem of not moving the ball enough and committing too many turnovers. They ended the night with 15 turnovers and only 11 assists.

Kyrie Irving, the hero in last season’s Finals and again on Christmas Day, struggled badly. He scored 17 points while committing six turnovers and shooting just 6-of-19. He sat most of the first quarter with foul trouble and never discovered his rhythm. By the time he returned for the start of the second, the deficit was already 15.  

Draymond Green and Steph Curry, meanwhile, were terrific. Green scored 11 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and passed for 11 assists. He finished with a plus/minus of plus-42, while James was a minus-32.

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