YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were rusty and Kyle Korver is
still not a Cavalier, so LeBron James needed to play a heavy role
As usual, he was up to the task.
James scored 36
points, carrying Cleveland while Irving and Love had slow starts in
their return to the lineup in a 116-108 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
added 32 points and Love had 17 points and 13 rebounds, but both shot
poorly early as the Nets kept it competitive for 1 1/2 quarters. James
helped the Cavs open a comfortable lead by halftime they enjoyed most of
the rest of the way in the opener of a six-game trip.
"Ky was a
little rusty coming off a couple of games out and obviously Kev as
well," James said, "so I was just trying to see if I could push the
tempo, get us into a good flow, get some early buckets in the second
quarter and I was able to push the lead to a double-digit lead by
halftime. So it worked well for us."
The Cavs were still working
to finalize a trade with Atlanta to acquire Korver, which will add a
premier perimeter shooter to their second unit.
that comes here we tell them LeBron's statement: If a guy's not in your
numbers, then you're open," Irving said. "So I know he'll pretty much
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 23 points for the Nets, who have lost five straight.
just tried to compete the whole game. We dug ourselves a hole," rookie
Caris LeVert said after scoring a season-high 19 points.
missed a loss to Chicago on Wednesday and was limited in the previous
game after suffering from food poisoning on New Year's Day. Irving had
sat out the last three with right hamstring tightness.
started 1 for 8 and Love was 1 for 7 as the Nets, who trailed by 46
during their loss at Cleveland on Dec. 23, led with under five minutes
remaining in the second quarter. But James had 10 points in the final
3:09 as Cleveland took a 50-39 lead.
Love then had 10 points in
the Cavs' 36-point third quarter and Irving heated up late as Cleveland
broke it open again after the Nets trimmed a 24-point deficit to six in
the fourth quarter.
"I thought they were rusty but we did a good job of working them back in and they were able to finish the game," Lue said.
Irving finished 10 for 26 from the field with three 3-pointers. Love was 5 for 16.
Thompson was 0 for 9 from the free throw line in the first half before
finally making a pair with 4:27 left in the third quarter after the Nets
fouled him intentionally. He finished 4 for 13.
Love said he has regained most of the 10 pounds he lost during his
illness. ... After the acquisition of Korver is completed, James and Lue
said the next priority for the Cavs is adding another point guard. With
Matthew Dellavedova going to Milwaukee in the offseason, rookie Kay
Felder is the only point guard on the roster other than Irving.
With Jeremy Lin still sidelined, Spencer Dinwiddie made his second
career start, scoring seven points. ... F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
returned after missing Thursday's loss in Indiana with right hip
tendinitis and shot 1 for 6 for four points.
the trade with Atlanta wasn't done yet, the Cavaliers did complete one
with Portland. The Cavs re-acquired the 2018 first-round pick they had
sent the Trail Blazers along with Anderson Varejao last February, in
exchange for their 2017 first-rounder.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant in Atlanta, said the Cavaliers are making a great move to get Korver.
think we all make a mistake if we just think Kyle's a shooter,"
Atkinson said. "I think he's a better all-around player than people
think. I think he's a better defender than people think. Better passer.
He's just really great IQ and he's going to help them in so many ways."
Visit Phoenix on Sunday as the rest of their trip is in the West,
capped by another NBA Finals rematch at Golden State on Martin Luther
King Jr. Day.
Nets: Host Philadelphia on Sunday. The teams have the two lowest winning percentages in the NBA.