Cavaliers survive Heat without Love (barely)

Detroit Pistons' Blake Griffin smiles while talking about his trade from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Pistons during an NBA baseball news conference in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) MIPS101
Detroit Pistons' Blake Griffin smiles while talking about his trade from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Pistons during an NBA baseball news conference in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) MIPS101
Published Jan. 31, 2018

CLEVELAND — LeBron James scored 24, Jae Crowder made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:21 left and the Cavaliers began a long stretch without injured All-Star Kevin Love by holding off the Heat 91-89 Wednesday.

The Cavs rebounded from a troubling loss at Detroit — Cleveland gave up 125 points to the undermanned Pistons — and prevented the Heat from overtaking them for third place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Cleveland played its first game since Love broke his left hand against the Pistons.

Goran Dragic scored 18 and Josh Richardson 15 to lead the Heat, which shot 3-of-28 on 3s.

Miami had a last chance after Cleveland's Kyle Korver made one of two free throws with seven seconds left, but Heat forward James Johnson, harassed by James on the baseline, couldn't get off a shot before the horn sounded.

MORE CAVS: Love's broken left hand has caused further damage to the Cavaliers.

The forward is consulting with surgical specialists in New York about fixing his hand, an injury that has rocked a team plagued by as much malfunction as dysfunction.

Love fractured his fifth metacarpal during the first quarter Tuesday in Detroit. The team's medical staff is reviewing treatment of the injury with specialists at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. There is no timetable on his return.

"He won a championship here, and he's been in three straight Finals," coach Tyronn Lue said. "He's been a big part of what we do. … He's valuable to what we do on this team, and it's going to be tough, but we just gotta pull together and get through it."

Early indications are that Love could miss as much as two months. His absence complicates things for the Cavs, who are in third place in the East, just ahead of Miami.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS: Spencer Dinwiddie scored 27, D'Angelo Russell added 22 in his best performance since returning from knee surgery, and the host Nets snapped a four-game skid with a 116-108 victory over the 76ers. … Marreese Speights scored 21 in his second start of the season, Evan Fournier added 19 and the host Magic ran away from the Lakers in the third quarter for a 127-105 victory. Orlando made a franchise-record nine 3s in a 43-point third.

SURPRISE, BLAKE: Blake Griffin described his reaction when he found out he had been traded.

"Shocked is a good way to put it," he said. "I didn't know anything. I pretty much found out when everybody else found out. It just kind of took a second to realize, okay, like, everything's changing."

The Pistons introduced Griffin and the two other players — Willie Reed and Brice Johnson — they received from the Clippers in the blockbuster deal earlier this week.

The Pistons sent Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and two draft picks to the Clippers. The trade came seven months after Griffin signed a $171 million, five-year deal to stay with Los Angeles. The Cavs' LeBron James described the deal as "unfortunate" — pointing out that players are called disloyal for leaving teams but franchises don't necessarily face the same criticism when trading players who have stayed committed to them.

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When asked if he regretted not having a no-trade clause, Griffin kept the focus on his future with his new team. "I want to play for an organization that wants me to play there," he said. "This is where I want to be, and this is the place that wants me."

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Former forward Rasual Butler and his wife were killed in a single-vehicle crash in Los Angeles early Wednesday. The Range Rover crashed around 2:30 a.m. in the Studio City area. Police said Butler was speeding before his vehicle jumped a curb, hit three parking meters and a concrete wall, then flipped over twice. Butler, 38, and Leah LaBelle Vladowski, 31, were pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Butler was drafted in 2002 by the Heat out of La Salle. He played for eight teams during his 13-year career.