Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

LeBron's supporting cast rises up for Cavs

CLEVELAND — LeBron James isn't all alone.

One year after he carried the Cavaliers as far as he could in the postseason, James again has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love by his side.

Irving scored 31 in his first playoff game since being injured in Game 1 of last year's NBA Finals and Love, who was knocked out in the first round by an injury a year ago, added 28 to lead the Cavaliers to a 106-101 victory Sunday over the Pistons in the opener of their first-round playoff series.

James added 22 points and 11 assists for the top-seeded Cavs. They are favored to win the East again but got all they could handle from Detroit.

Cleveland's championship chances were dealt a major blow when Love's shoulder was dislocated in just his fourth playoff game last year at Boston. The Cavs advanced to the Finals without him only to have Irving break his kneecap in Game 1 against Golden State, an injury that left James to fight the Warriors on his own.

As he sat between his teammates — who combined with him for 81 points, 24 rebounds and 18 assists — after Sunday's game, James looked relieved. "For these two guys, they were just excited to get back to this moment," he said. "These guys have been working hard, Kyrie on his knee, Kevin on his shoulder just to get back to this moment. It was great to be out on the floor with them and for them to put together the performance that they did."

Love made two critical 3s in the fourth, and the Cavs overcame a seven-point deficit by outscoring the Pistons 30-18 over the final 10:52.

During a TV interview with ABC after the first quarter, Pistons coach Stan Gundy tossed what might be the first of many salvos in the series.

"A couple calls have upset our guys," Van Gundy said. "They've got to understand, LeBron's LeBron. They're not going to call offensive fouls on him. He gets to do whatever he wants. They've got to understand that."

Cavaliers 106, Pistons 101

DETROIT (101): Harris 4-11 0-0 9, Morris 6-14 5-6 20, Drummond 6-14 1-2 13, Jackson 7-12 1-1 17, Caldwell-Pope 7-14 3-4 21, Johnson 3-4 0-0 9, Blake 0-0 1-2 1, Bullock 3-3 0-0 8, Baynes 1-1 1-1 3. Totals 37-73 12-16 101.

CLEVELAND (106): James 9-17 4-4 22, Love 10-22 4-5 28, Thompson 1-1 0-0 2, Irving 10-24 6-8 31, Smith 3-9 1-2 9, Dellavedova 3-8 1-2 7, Shumpert 1-2 0-0 2, Jefferson 2-4 0-0 5, Mozgov 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 39-88 16-21 106.

Detroit 25 33 20 23— 101

Cleveland 27 26 23 30— 106

3-Point GoalsDetroit 15-29 (Caldwell-Pope 4-8, Johnson 3-3, Morris 3-7, Bullock 2-2, Jackson 2-4, Harris 1-4, Drummond 0-1), Cleveland 12-35 (Irving 5-10, Love 4-8, Smith 2-7, Jefferson 1-2, Shumpert 0-1, James 0-3, Dellavedova 0-4). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsDetroit 43 (Drummond 11), Cleveland 51 (Love 13). AssistsDetroit 24 (Jackson 7), Cleveland 25 (James 11). Total FoulsDetroit 21, Cleveland 18. TechnicalsJackson. A20,562 (20,562).

SPURS 106, GRIZZLIES 74: Kawhi Leonard had 20 points to help hand the visiting Grizzlies their worst postseason loss.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 17 points and Tony Parker had 15 points and six assists for San Antonio. The Spurs sat their starters in the fourth to rest them for Game 2 on Tuesday.

San Antonio shot 68 percent in the third quarter, outscoring Memphis 33-14 to break open what had been a relatively close game against the shorthanded Grizzlies.

Memphis matched a postseason low in the first quarter with 13 points, and only Xavier Munford's 15-foot jumper with 46.1 seconds left kept it from matching the worst output in any quarter.

The Grizzlies' largest previous losing margin was 27 points against the Thunder on May 11, 2011.

Spurs 106, Grizzlies 74

MEMPHIS (74): Barnes 1-7 0-0 2, Randolph 3-13 0-0 6, Andersen 1-3 0-0 2, Farmar 2-6 0-0 6, Carter 6-7 2-2 16, Allen 3-9 0-0 7, Munford 2-9 0-0 4, J.Green 3-7 1-2 7, Stephenson 6-11 0-0 14, J.Martin 2-3 1-2 5, Hairston 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 31-79 4-6 74.

SAN ANTONIO (106): Leonard 8-13 1-1 20, Aldridge 8-15 1-1 17, Duncan 3-4 1-2 7, Parker 6-10 3-3 15, D.Green 1-1 0-0 3, Ginobili 1-5 0-0 2, West 1-3 2-2 4, Mills 4-8 4-4 15, Diaw 2-6 0-0 4, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, K.Martin 4-6 0-0 10, Marjanovic 3-5 0-0 6, Simmons 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 42-81 12-13 106.

Memphis 13 24 14 23— 74

San Antonio 22 26 33 25— 106

3-Point GoalsMemphis 8-18 (Carter 2-3, Farmar 2-3, Stephenson 2-4, Allen 1-1, Hairston 1-2, Munford 0-2, Barnes 0-3), San Antonio 10-23 (Leonard 3-6, Mills 3-7, K.Martin 2-3, D.Green 1-1, Simmons 1-2, Diaw 0-1, Ginobili 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMemphis 41 (Andersen 9), San Antonio 49 (Duncan 11). AssistsMemphis 17 (Munford 4), San Antonio 22 (Parker 6). Total FoulsMemphis 16, San Antonio 11. TechnicalsMemphis Coach Joerger. A18,418 (18,797).

HEAT 123, HORNETS 91: Luol Deng made his Miami postseason debut one to remember. And with a franchise record for points, the Heat is off to a flying playoff start.

Deng scored 31 on 11-for-13 shooting for his best game in a Miami uniform and Hassan Whiteside added 21 points and 11 rebounds in his postseason debut en route to a rout of the visiting Hornets.

"We knew it was time to play Miami Heat basketball," Whiteside said. "It was going to start with our defense and defense led to offense."

Miami scored 41 in the first quarter to tie one franchise playoff record, set another with its total points — topping the 121 in the 2012 NBA Finals clincher against the Thunder — and never trailed.

"Whether you lose by 30 or one, it's 1-0," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "So we lost one game. But obviously, particularly up front, we just got manhandled. And if Deng and Whiteside are going to combine for that kind of numbers, it's going to be hard for us to win."

Heat 123, Hornets 91

CHARLOTTE (91): Batum 7-14 7-10 24, Williams 1-7 0-0 2, Zeller 3-4 3-4 9, Walker 6-13 5-5 19, Lee 2-6 4-4 8, Jefferson 4-8 5-6 13, Kaminsky 0-0 0-2 0, Lin 2-4 5-6 9, Daniels 0-2 0-0 0, Hansbrough 0-0 0-0 0, Lamb 2-3 0-0 4, Gutierrez 0-2 0-0 0, Hawes 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 28-65 29-37 91.

MIAMI (123): J.Johnson 5-8 0-0 11, Deng 11-13 5-7 31, Whiteside 9-11 3-5 21, Dragic 2-8 5-6 9, Wade 8-16 0-0 16, Winslow 4-6 0-0 8, Richardson 3-11 0-0 8, Stoudemire 4-6 3-3 11, Haslem 0-0 0-0 0, Green 0-3 0-0 0, Wright 3-3 0-0 8, McRoberts 0-0 0-0 0, Weber 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 49-85 16-21 123.

Charlotte 22 28 24 17— 91

Miami 41 26 30 26— 123

3-Point GoalsCharlotte 6-17 (Batum 3-7, Walker 2-5, Hawes 1-2, Lee 0-1, Williams 0-2), Miami 9-18 (Deng 4-6, Wright 2-2, Richardson 2-5, J.Johnson 1-2, Winslow 0-1, Dragic 0-1, Wade 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsCharlotte 37 (Zeller 7), Miami 49 (Whiteside 11). AssistsCharlotte 11 (Lin 3), Miami 27 (Dragic 10). Total FoulsCharlotte 17, Miami 24. A19,600 (19,600).

CURRY STILL IFFY: The Warriors are preparing to play without league MVP Stephen Curry for tonight's Game 2 against the Rockets as he nurses an ankle injury, even if they know he will beg and plead to play through pain. As long as he can't make it worse, Curry insists it will be hard to keep him off the court. "Oh, yeah, for sure," coach Steve Kerr said of Curry campaigning to play. "When Steph's out, our guys understand that he's not there to count on, so they have to execute. If they don't, we're just not going to score enough points."

CELTICS LOSE BRADLEY: Celtics guard Avery Bradley, probably the team's best perimeter defender, sustained a severely sprained right hamstring in the fourth quarter of Saturday's Game 1 loss to the Hawks and will likely miss the rest of the series, coach Brad Stevens said.

WILLIAMS RETURNS: Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams attended his first game Saturday since his wife was killed in a car accident in February. He will not coach the rest of this season, but it meant a lot to the team that he showed up to watch. "It kind of surprised us in pregame," Kevin Durant said after Oklahoma City's 108-70 win over the Mavericks. "Good to see him. We miss him so much."

NETS HIRE COACH: The Nets hired Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson as head coach, bypassing the type of big names it had targeted and turning to someone experienced with developing winning programs gradually.

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