Love grows into role with LeBron in Cavs’ title quest

UNTV News   •   June 1, 2017   •   2955

May 23, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) rebounds in the third quarter against the Boston Celtics in game four of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love has emerged as the player LeBron James yearned to see and the power forward could be a pivotal contributor for the Cleveland Cavaliers in their quest to repeat as NBA champions.

This season, Love has been more confident and assertive, flashing the form that made him a three-times All-Star in his initial NBA seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

On the eve of Thursday’s opener of the Finals against the Golden State Warriors, the 6-foot-10 (2.08 m) frontcourt man was asked what kind of player James had hoped he could become.

“He was about 30 pounds heavier and has a terrible haircut,” said Love, drawing laughs from reporters.

“No, I think he just means … being assertive and just very confident on both sides of the ball in my movements.”

“Just continuing to have a can-do mindset throughout and having confidence in each and every one of us. It’s not just me, it’s everybody playing their best brand of basketball.”

Love was thought to be the critical third partner of a ‘Big Three’ in Cleveland with James and dynamic guard Kyrie Irving.

However, he battled injuries and at times struggled to establish his identity on the floor, often deferring to his explosive team mates and losing some of that assertiveness.

This season Love has stepped up, averaging 19 points a game, 2.5 more per contest than his previous two seasons. He has also improved in the postseason to a 17.2 points average against stingier playoff defenses.

Love is fired up for the unprecedented third successive Finals clash between the Warriors and the Cavaliers, and is comfortable with his role.

“Picking my spots, being assertive, as I mentioned, and just filling in the gaps where we know that ‘Bron, being our leader, and Kyrie are going to be special,” he said.

Still, he said everything revolved around James, one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

“He’s special in so many ways,” said Love. “But as far as his approach and his routine and just his relentlessness in chasing, that greatness is special to watch.

“We talk about guys setting the tone, he’s the best to do it. He’s our leader, and we follow him at all costs.”

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Ian Ransom)

Cavs let big lead vanish but hold off Wizards

UNTV News   •   January 30, 2019


Jan 29, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) drives against Cleveland Cavaliers center Ante Zizic (41) in the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Clarkson scored 28 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers squandered most of a 25-point fourth-quarter lead before holding on to defeat the Washington Wizards 116-113 for their second straight win.

Washington cut the deficit to three points in the final minute and had a chance to tie when it inbounded with 10.8 seconds left but Cedi Osman knocked the ball away from Troy Brown, who was attempting a 3-pointer, and the Cavs held on despite missing nine fourth-quarter free throws.

Osman had 26 points for Cleveland and Ante Zizic had 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Bradley Beal had 31 points for Washington but was on the bench during the fourth-quarter rally. Reserve Jordan McCrae had 15 points and Trevor Ariza added 13 for the Wizards, who have lost two straight.

Cleveland led by six at halftime and pulled away in the third quarter when it outscored the Wizards 35-22.

Matthew Dellavedova’s 3-pointer gave the Cavaliers an 82-61 lead late in the quarter.

Clarkson’s second straight 3-pointer made it 94-69 with 10:44 left to play and Cleveland still led by 25 with 6:58 to play before Washington rallied.

Gary Payton’s layup capped a 13-2 run that brought the Wizards within 109-99 and McCrae’s jumper made it 112-103 with 1:42 left to play.

Washington cut it to 115-108 on Brown’s layup with 35.1 seconds left. After Cleveland’s Collin Sexton missed two free throws, McCrae hit a 3-pointer with 30.7 seconds remaining.

Clarkson’s free throw extended the lead to 116-111, but McCrae’s two free throws pulled Washington within 116-113 with 18.5 seconds left.

Osman missed two free throws and Washington had the ball with 10.8 seconds remaining before Brown’s failed 3-point attempt.

The Cavaliers took their largest lead of the first half, 53-44, on Clarkson’s layup with 8.3 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but Ariza hit a 3-pointer with one second left.

—Field Level Media

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Gasol-led Grizzlies dispatch Timberwolves

UNTV News   •   November 19, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) reacts during an NBA playoff game against the Portland Trail Blazers last season in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo: Reuters/Justin Ford/USA Today Sports

Marc Gasol scored 26 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and made four 3-point shots to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 100-87 road win on Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Mike Conley added 18 points and nine assists for the Grizzlies, who now have won five of six. The Timberwolves had won three straight since trading Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Grizzlies broke open the game in the third quarter by outscoring the Timberwolves, 28-19. Through three quarters, Memphis had forced 16 Minnesota turnovers and the Timberwolves concluded with 20 miscues.

Derrick Rose kept the Timberwolves in the game, scoring 18 off the bench. Rose was 6 of 11 from the field, including 2-for-4 from long range. Newly acquired Dario Saric also gave Minnesota a lift off the bench, scoring 14 points.

The Grizzlies shot 42.7 percent from the field. Minnesota shot 39.2.

A telling sign that Sunday just wasn’t the Timberwolves’ day — with time running out late in the fourth, Garrett Temple threw up a 3-point attempt from 30 feet and hit nothing but net to give Memphis a 96-83 lead.

Another sign — Gasol sank a corner 3 midway through the third to give the Grizzlies a double-digit lead at 66-54. Minnesota had not won a game where it trailed by double digits all season, and still hasn’t.

Shelvin Mack’s 3-point jumper made it 69-54 as the Grizzlies defense smothered the Minnesota offense.

The Timberwolves cut the deficit to eight midway through the fourth and when Covington forced the ball off Conley’s knee, it appeared Minnesota would have a chance to creep even closer.

But a missed call allowed the Grizzlies to keep the ball and Gasol made a 3 making the score 81-69.

Saric answered to cut the lead to 10 but Gasol could not be stopped. Memphis’ big man sank another 3 and it seemed Memphis had an answer every time Minnesota tried to claw back.

Memphis dictated the pace from the get-go but trailed 20-17 after the first quarter. The Grizzlies outscored the Timberwolves 30-23 in the second period and took a 47-43 lead into halftime.

Minnesota shot just 35 percent (14 of 40) in the first half while the Grizzlies were just a little better at 39.1 percent (18-for-46).

The two teams combined to turn the ball over 19 times in the first half.

—Field Level Media

Report: Wolves’ asking price high for Butler

UNTV News   •   September 29, 2018

Apr 25, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler (23) drives against Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (3) in the second half in game five of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor’s reported insistence that the team trade disgruntled star Jimmy Butler, the asking price is said to be too high.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported Thursday morning that the Timberwolves are seeking a package of both prospects and veterans for Butler, who wants to be traded.

Wojnarowski tweeted Thursday: “Minnesota’s asking price for Jimmy Butler remains too steep for teams. Minny seeks quality vets/top prospects/future assets/cap relief. Too high a price for interested teams, including Miami. Sources are skeptical of Thibodeau’s desire to make deal.”

Head coach Tom Thibodeau met with Butler in Minneapolis following Butler’s physical on Monday, but overtures intended to coax Butler back to the team were rebuffed, according to multiple reports.

On Tuesday, Thibodeau said Minnesota plans to “honor his request” and is currently “seeing what is out there.”

Butler was given permission to skip the team’s media day on Monday. He was present only for medical evaluations. Thibodeau said Butler would be away from the team for at least a week because he’s still rehabbing from offseason surgery on his right hand. However, Butler posted to social media his intense training workout videos and doesn’t appear to be physically limited in any way.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Butler prefers a trade to Miami, and while the Heat are interested in acquiring Butler, they have found trade talks difficult.

According to reports, the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings also have expressed interest.

The Philadelphia 76ers lost interest when the Timberwolves asked about 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons, The Ringer reported Thursday.

Butler, 29, appeared in 59 games last season for the Timberwolves, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals.

He is entering the fourth season of a five-year, $92.3 million contract he signed with Chicago in 2015, but he can enter the free agent market next summer by opting out of the final year. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $18.7 million in 2018-19.

In July, Butler reportedly turned down Minnesota’s four-year extension offer worth $110 million.

—Field Level Media

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