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Cavs' James, Irving defend decision to sit out for rest

UP STRONG: The Hornets’ Jeremy Lamb dunks against the Hawks’ Taurean Prince during Charlotte’s 105-90 home victory. Lamb scores 12 off the bench.

Associated Press

UP STRONG: The Hornets’ Jeremy Lamb dunks against the Hawks’ Taurean Prince during Charlotte’s 105-90 home victory. Lamb scores 12 off the bench.

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James and Kyrie Irving addressed the criticism the Cavaliers received for them sitting out in Saturday's nationally televised game against the Clippers.

With Kevin Love playing just his second game Sunday after arthroscopic knee surgery and Irving feeling tightness in his left knee Thursday against the Pistons, the only healthy scratch was James.

"I don't think the NBA can do anything about it," James said. "At the end of the day, it (stinks) at times where certain guys have to rest, but certain guys need rest. It's a long, strenuous season and the NBA does a great job of putting the schedule together as best as they can. You're going to have back-to-backs. You're going to have certain games where certain things fall on certain nights.

"But a coach's job is to figure out a way for their team to compete for a championship, not compete for a game. . For me personally, I want to play in every game. I wanted to play ⅛Saturday night⅜, but my coach felt like it was best that I didn't play last night. So I'm going to go with my coach and he's never steered me wrong."

James praised former NBA commissioner David Stern and current commissioner Adam Silver and said, "It's the greatest game and it will continue to be that."

As for the partnership with ABC for the Saturday night games, James said: "Well, I've been part of six straight Finals and every single season and every single Finals has been bigger and bigger and bigger and better and better and more people have tuned in. So, I don't see there's a problem going on with our league."

Irving said resting players has been a hot topic all season, with the basketball world forgetting that San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been using the tactic for four years.

"I can't stress enough how important rest is," Irving said. "You've got veterans who have come before us who play 82 games that have their opinions and we're just in a different time now. Understanding what the important goal is at the end of the season is at the forefront of our minds. We're playing for a championship run, playoff run. For us, games in the regular season against great matchups, we all want to play.

"I want to be part of it as much as possible, but when our coaching staff and our medical staff sits us and rests us, I'm not appalled to it.

"I know fans across the whole entire league want to see us at our best and they got to see a show tonight. I would've loved to have gone against the Clippers and had a great game against a veteran team like that and be able to play, but just respect the coach's wishes and our medical staff."

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The Pistons assigned first-round draft pick Henry Ellenson to their Grand Rapids affiliate in the D-League. He has appeared in 14 games. … 76ers center Jahlil Okafor sat out Monday because of soreness in his right knee.

Cavs' James, Irving defend decision to sit out for rest 03/20/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 11:30am]
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