Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Cavs survive late push to cap second sweep

ATLANTA — Cleveland's Big Three is on quite a roll.

Two playoff series, two sweeps.

Now, the Cavaliers get to rest up for the Eastern Conference final.

Kevin Love scored 27, LeBron James hit a huge shot with 39.2 seconds left and Kyrie Irving turned in another dazzling performance to lead Cleveland past the Hawks 100-99 Sunday.

"This is more than I dreamed of," Irving said. "It's what I genuinely enjoy about basketball, playing with great guys."

When James returned to Cleveland after four years in Miami, winning the franchise's first championship was the only goal that mattered. Love was acquired from the Timberwolves to complete the dynamic trio, but the Cavaliers came up short in Year 1 when Love and Irving were hurt in the playoffs.

Now, fully healthy and finally comfortable together after some rocky moments, LeBron & Co. cruised into the conference final to meet either Toronto or Miami. The Raptors lead that series 2-1.

"We're in a great rhythm right now," said James, who won two titles with the Heat. "We know exactly where we want to be on the floor."

Love carried Cleveland much of the game, hitting one 3-pointer after another as the Hawks continually left him open in the corner. He went cold down the stretch but still finished 8-of-15 from beyond the arc. He made only one 2-point basket — with his toe on the stripe.

James and Irving finished with 21 points each. James also had nine assists and Irving had eight.

The Hawks had one last chance to extend the series and put the ball in the hands of Dennis Schroder, who led the team with 21 points. The speedy point guard drove into the lane but was surrounded by James and Tristan Thompson. Schroder slipped and James tied up the ball, forcing a huge mismatch of a jump ball with 2.8 seconds left.

"I just tried to be aggressive,' said Schroder, who was at least hoping to draw a foul. "They didn't call it, so we can't take it back. We've got to live with that."

With a 7-inch height advantage on the jump, James easily flicked the ball toward the sideline. Paul Millsap wound up with it, flinging up a desperation shot, but it was after the buzzer and didn't go in anyway.

"We know Atlanta is a tough team, and the closeout game is the hardest game," said coach Tyronn Lue, who took over the Cavaliers during the season after David Blatt was fired.

Cavaliers 100, Hawks 99

CLEVELAND (100): James 10-23 0-3 21, Love 9-25 1-1 27, Thompson 2-3 1-2 5, Irving 8-16 4-5 21, Smith 1-4 0-0 3, Jefferson 1-3 0-0 3, Frye 3-6 0-0 8, Dellavedova 1-2 0-0 2, Shumpert 3-6 2-2 10. Totals 38-88 8-13 100.

ATLANTA (99): Bazemore 5-12 0-0 11, Sefolosha 7-12 0-2 16, Millsap 5-12 8-10 19, Horford 7-14 0-0 15, Teague 2-5 0-0 5, Scott 1-1 0-0 2, Humphries 2-5 2-2 8, Schroder 10-18 0-0 21, Korver 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 40-83 10-14 99.

Cleveland 27 29 25 19— 100

Atlanta 36 22 19 22— 99

3-Point Goals—Cleveland 16-37 (Love 8-15, Frye 2-4, Shumpert 2-4, Jefferson 1-1, Irving 1-3, Smith 1-4, James 1-5, Dellavedova 0-1), Atlanta 9-31 (Sefolosha 2-3, Humphries 2-4, Schroder 1-3, Teague 1-3, Millsap 1-4, Horford 1-5, Bazemore 1-7, Korver 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Cleveland 41 (Love 13), Atlanta 42 (Millsap 9). Assists—Cleveland 23 (James 9), Atlanta 22 (Schroder 6). Total Fouls—Cleveland 14, Atlanta 16. A—19,031 (18,047).

THUNDER 111, SPURS 97: Kevin Durant matched his career playoff high with 41 points, and host Oklahoma City tied the Western Conference semifinal series 2-2.

Durant scored 29 on 10-of-13 shooting in the second half.

Russell Westbrook finished with 14 points and 15 assists, Dion Waiters added 17 points, and Steven Adams had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, which shot 50.6 percent overall and 57 percent in the second half to avoid going back to San Antonio down 3-1.

Tony Parker led the Spurs with 22 points, Kawhi Leonard had 21 and LaMarcus Aldridge 20.

Durant's back-to-back 3s gave the Thunder a 93-87 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Thunder 111, Spurs 97

SAN ANTONIO (97): Leonard 7-19 7-7 21, Aldridge 8-18 4-5 20, Duncan 0-0 0-0 0, Parker 10-16 2-2 22, Green 0-3 0-0 0, Anderson 1-2 0-0 2, Diaw 5-8 0-0 11, West 4-10 0-0 8, Marjanovic 0-0 0-0 0, Mills 2-4 0-0 4, Ginobili 3-5 2-2 9, Martin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 40-85 15-16 97.

OKLAHOMA CITY (111): Durant 14-25 10-13 41, Ibaka 3-6 0-0 7, Adams 6-8 4-6 16, Westbrook 5-18 3-4 14, Roberson 0-2 0-0 0, Collison 0-0 0-0 0, Kanter 3-6 4-4 11, Payne 0-0 0-0 0, Foye 2-3 0-0 5, Waiters 7-11 1-2 17. Totals 40-79 22-29 111.

San Antonio 27 26 28 16— 97

Oklahoma City 17 28 32 34— 111

3-Point GoalsSan Antonio 2-12 (Diaw 1-1, Ginobili 1-2, Green 0-1, West 0-1, Parker 0-1, Mills 0-2, Leonard 0-4), Oklahoma City 9-23 (Durant 3-9, Waiters 2-2, Foye 1-2, Kanter 1-2, Westbrook 1-3, Ibaka 1-3, Roberson 0-1, Adams 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsSan Antonio 34 (West 7), Oklahoma City 40 (Adams 11). AssistsSan Antonio 12 (Mills, Parker 3), Oklahoma City 23 (Westbrook 15). Total FoulsSan Antonio 21, Oklahoma City 18. TechnicalsWest, Westbrook. A18,203 (18,203).

WAITING ON CURRY: Warriors All-Star guard Stephen Curry is "doubtful" for tonight's Game 4 against the Trail Blazers, coach Steve Kerr said. Kerr said Curry was expected to go through the pregame shootaround, the next step after having participated in Golden State's light practice and gone through a 3-on-3 session.

MORE INJURIES: Heat center Hassan Whiteside has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and will be listed as day to day. … Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will miss the rest of the series against Miami with a sprained right ankle.

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