Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We’re a tough out for anybody’

The Cavs have had a lot of success at Madison Square Garden in recent years. Coming into Saturday’s showdown in New York against the Knicks, Cleveland was 12-2 in their last 14 games at MSG.

Cleveland’s dominance in NYC continued. They led from start to finish and defeated the Knicks 119-101. The Cavs(3-0) swept the season series with the win.

The Cavs(43-35), who had seven players in double figures, including all five starters, snap a two-game losing streak, while the Knicks(34-44) have lost two straight.

The Great for the Cavs:

Double-Double DG: Darius Garland had 11 double-doubles in the month of March, and he kept up his double-double ways in April as he had 24 points, including five threes and 13 assists against the Knicks. According to StatMuse, it’s his third game with 20-plus points, 10-plus assists, and five-plus threes this season, which ties Mark Price for the most in team history.

-Moses Brown recorded a double-double for the second consecutive game as he had 16 points and 13 rebounds. In his last three starts, Brown is averaging 14.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per contest. You gotta love his activity around the basket, which was rewarded as he won the “Junkyard Dog” award.

-Caris LeVert had 19 points, including three threes, six rebounds, and six assists Saturday. 

-Isaac Okoro was active and accurate as he had 16 points on 7/8 shooting from the floor.

-First Quarter: With just under five minutes left and the game tied at 20, Cleveland went on an 18-8 run to take their largest first-quarter lead at 38-28. Garland led the way with 10 points in the quarter. Cleveland shot 62% from the floor, including 5/5 from downtown. The Cavs led 39-30 after one, and for the fourth time this season, Cleveland scored 39-plus points in the first quarter.

-Third Quarter: The Cavs had a 68-60 halftime lead and took complete control in the third. After New York cut the lead to 76-71 with just under eight minutes in the third, Cleveland went on a 26-14 run to close the quarter and took a 102-85 lead into the fourth. The Cavs were red-hot from the field in the third as they shot 64%, including 57%(4/7) from three-point range.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

There were no issues today. Check back tomorrow night!

Bottom Line:

Cleveland responded well after getting blown out by the Hawks Thursday night. They had excellent ball movement and had great energy against the Knicks. It’s just the Knicks, who were without their leading scorer Julius Randle(knee), but a win is a win, especially when you had lost five of six coming into this game.

Since being one of the top six teams in the East seems out of reach, the Cavs want to make sure they stay at the seventh spot in the East, so if necessary, they’ll have two home games in the Play-In Tournament.

Remember, seeds seven and eight have to win once in the tournament to make the playoffs, while seeds nine and ten have to win twice.

As for the standings, with four games left, the seventh-seeded Cavs are two games up on the eighth seed, the Atlanta Hawks(41-37), and three games up on the ninth-seeded Hornets(40-38) and the tenth-seeded Nets(40-38). Cleveland is two games behind the sixth seed, the Chicago Bulls(45-33), and three games behind the fifth-seeded Raptors(45-32).

Quotes:

“We’re a tough out for anybody,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about his team.

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home Sunday night to face the Philadelphia 76ers.

Best of the Rest:

-Obi Toppin led the Knicks with a career-high 20 points; Evan Fournier added 19 points.

-Kevin Love had 15 points off the bench, and Lauri Markkanen and Cedi Osman chipped in with 10 points apiece.

-Evan Mobley(ankle) missed his third straight game.

Watch below as Kevin Love reacts to win over Knicks:

Cavs acquire Rondo in three-team deal

With Ricky Rubio out for the season due to a torn ACL, the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a backup point guard, and on Monday, they got their guy.

The Cavs acquired point guard Rajon Rondo from the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-team trade.

In the deal, the New York Knicks receive guard Denzel Valentine from Cleveland and the draft rights to Wang Zhelin (57th pick in 2016 NBA Draft) and Brad Newley (54th pick in 2007 NBA Draft) and cash considerations from the Lakers. In addition, Los Angeles receives the draft rights to Louis Labeyrie (57th pick in 2014 NBA Draft) from New York.

The 35-year-old Rondo played in 18 games for the Lakers this season.

Over his 16-year NBA career, he has appeared in 936 games (732 starts) with the Lakers, Clippers, Hawks, Pelicans, Bulls, Kings, Mavericks, and Celtics, owning career averages of 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.6 steals in 30.1 minutes per contest.

A two-time NBA Champion (2008, 2020) and four-time NBA All-Star (2010-2013), Rondo has been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team four times (2009-2012), including two First Team nods (2010, 2011), and was an All-NBA Third Team selection in 2012. Additionally, Rondo has appeared in 134 playoff games (105 starts), averaging 12.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8.5 assists, and 1.7 steals in 34.0 minutes per game.

Valentine, 26, signed with the Cavaliers in the offseason and appeared in 22 games this season.

In other news, Cavaliers guard/forward Isaac Okoro left Sunday night’s game against Indiana in the second quarter with a left elbow injury and did not return. Okoro, who underwent an MRI Monday, will be out 2-3 weeks with a left elbow sprain.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We know where we can go’

Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be for real. On Sunday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks(6-4), the Cavaliers got a fantastic performance from Ricky Rubio, who had a double-double with a career-high 37 points to go along with 10 assists, as Cleveland defeated New York 126-109.

The Cavs(7-4) have now won four straight, including three consecutive wins on the road.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and Bottom Line of Cleveland’s big win in New York City.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Ricky Rubio was excellent last night. Rubio scored 26 of his career-high 37 points in the second half and dished out 10 assists off the bench. Rubio was 13/19 from the field, including career-high eight threes on 8/9 from downtown. Rubio, who started the third quarter for an injured Collin Sexton, was 4/4 from downtown in the third quarter and scored 12 points, and he added 14 more points in the fourth. 

According to StatMuse, Rubio is the first player in NBA history with 30-plus points, 10-plus assists, eight-plus threes in a game off the bench.

-Rookie Evan Mobley was also excellent last night. In his debut at MSG, Mobley had a career-high 26 PTS (11-15 FG, 2-4 3FG), nine rebounds, five assists, a steal, and a block. According to the Cavs, he is the first rookie to record 26-plus points, nine-plus rebounds, five-plus assists, and 73% from the field in a single game since Blake Griffin.

-Jarrett Allen is earning all his money and then some. He scored 18 points and grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds. Allen was also named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the first time in his career. During the Cavs’  winning streak, Allen is averaging 20.5 points on .633 shooting from the field, an NBA-best 16.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 37.0 minutes per contest. He was the only player in the NBA to average at least 20.0 points and 15.0 rebounds last week and had the highest field goal percentage among any NBA player who averaged 20 points or more.

-Darius Garland added 15 points(4/5 3PT) and dished out five assists.

-Third Quarter: Cleveland trailed 57-56 at halftime. However, they outscored New York 33 to 18 in the third quarter. The Cavaliers shot 57% from the field, including (6/7)85% from downtown. They held the Knicks to 32% shooting, including(1/9) 11% from three-point range. The Cavs took an 89-75 lead into the fourth.

Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Collin Sexton left in the second quarter with a knee injury, and on Monday, it was revealed that he had a meniscus tear in his left knee. At this point, he will undergo an additional evaluation, after which time his status will be updated.

-Cleveland had 17 turnovers on Sunday night. That number is too high, but they can worry about that another night.

Bottom Line:

The Cavaliers have beaten some good teams this season on the road, including wins over the Knicks, Nuggets, Raptors, and Clippers, which is impressive. Now, they have an opportunity to rack up some more wins as eight of their next nine games are at home. 

Hopefully, going forward, they can get Kevin Love(Health and Safety Protocols), Lauri Markkanen(Health and Safety Protocols), and Isaac Okoro(hamstring) back soon.

“We know where we can go,” Bickerstaff said. “There’s a depth to this team that we know we can get to. That’s all about the scrap. That’s how we turn it up.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home Wednesday night against the Wizards.

Best of the Rest:

On Sunday night, the Knicks had six players in double figures led by Julius Randle, who scored 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists; Derrick Rose added 17 points and five assists.

Listen below as Mobley, Allen, and Rubio react to Cleveland’s win over the Knicks:

Hawks’ Trae Young diagnosed with lateral left ankle sprain

Trae Young, who left last night’s loss to the Knicks due to a sprained left ankle, was diagnosed with a lateral left ankle sprain, the team announced on Thursday.

Young had an MRI on Thursday, which confirmed the injury after an X-ray taken at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night came back negative.

According to the team, Young will be listed as out for tomorrow’s game vs. Miami and Sunday vs. Milwaukee, and his status will be updated as appropriate.

Young, the Hawks leading scorer, is averaging 25.3 points, 9.6 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. 

At 32-27, Atlanta is the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Redick on Doncic, Porzingis: ‘They’re both the proverbial unicorn’

The Dallas Mavericks(25-21) continue their five-game road trip on Friday night when they travel to New York to face the Knicks(24-24). Dallas is currently 2-1 on this trip, including a 113-108 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night. 

In that game, Luka Doncic was red-hot. The two-time All-Star led the Mavericks with 36 points (11-15 FG, 7-11 3FG), eight rebounds, and five assists in 35 minutes for his 15th 30-5-5 game of the season.

Currently, the Mavericks are 25-21 and are the seventh-seed in the Western Conference. Seeds 7-10 will battle it out in the play-in games, so if Dallas wants to avoid that, they have to get the sixth spot, which is occupied by the Blazers, who have a 3.5 game lead on the Mavericks.

Kristaps Porzingis makes another return to New York City, and he’s playing well. Porzingis is averaging 24.8 points (.469 FG%), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 blocks per game over his last four games, including 19 points and eight rebounds against Boston. 

The 25-year-old Porzingis, selected by the Knicks with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, spent three seasons in the “Big Apple” and became an All-Star in 2018. Ultimately, the 7-3 star, who tore his ACL in 2018, wanted out of New York and was traded to Dallas with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round picks. 

While things did not work out for Porzingis in NYC, he does miss the city.

 “I miss the city; I miss this place,” Porzingis said via Zoom on Thursday. “A lot of great memories. Every time I come back, it’s special. A lot of people here still recognize me and show me love and support. It’s always good to come back.”

It should be interesting to see how Porzingis plays tonight against New York. Last season, in two matchups against the Knicks, both losses, Porzingis averaged 24.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks per game, which is his highest career scoring average against any team. 

Dallas finishes their five-game road trip on Saturday night in Washington against the Wizards.

Notes:

JJ Redick met with the Dallas media for the first time on Thursday. Redick and Nicolo Melli were acquired by the Mavs from New Orleans before the trade deadline.

Redick appeared in 31 games this season for New Orleans, averaging 8.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists. The 36-year-old Redick, who is out with a right heel injury, wanted to be traded to an East Coast team. However, he’s excited to play with Doncic and Porzingis.

“Well, they’re great players,” he said. “I’m very excited to play with them. In a sense, they’re both the proverbial unicorn. There’s not many people at seven-foot-three that can do what KP does, and Luka is as good as anybody in the league at creating his own shot and creating for other people. I’ve been very fortunate to play with some great players in my career, and those two guys are going to be at top of the list for sure.”

Clippers’ Frank: ‘Marcus(Morris) is a player we’ve admired for a long time’

The L.A. Clippers have acquired forward Marcus Morris Sr. from the New York Knicks and guard Isaiah Thomas from the Washington Wizards in a three-team trade, it was announced today.

As part of the trade, L.A. will send to New York forward Maurice Harkless, a 2020 first round pick, a protected 2021 first round swap option, and Detroit’s 2021 second round pick. The Clippers will send guard Jerome Robinson to Washington.

“Marcus is a player we’ve admired for a long time,” said Frank.  “He is an established scorer, elite shooter, and imposing defender.  We are excited to add his experience and toughness to our team.”

Added Frank, “Moe is a true professional who played a key role for our team this season. We wish him the best in New York. Jerome is a talented young player and we will be rooting for him as he continues his career in Washington.”

Morris Sr., 30, appeared in 43 games for the Knicks this season and is averaging career-highs in points (19.6), three-pointers made (2.7) and three-point field goal percentage (43.9). In his ninth NBA season he is also averaging 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 32.3 minutes. The Philadelphia native holds career averages of 12.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 26.9 minutes across 588 appearances with the Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics and New York. The 6’8”, 218-pound forward played three collegiate seasons at the University of Kansas, where he was named Big 12 Player of the Year as a Junior in 2011, before being selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets.

Harkless, 26, appeared in 50 games for the Clippers this season, averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 22.8 minutes. He holds career averages of 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 23.0 minutes with the Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers and Clippers. Harkless played one collegiate season at St. John’s University, where he was named Big East Rookie of the Year in 2012 and averaged 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds in 36.1 minutes.

Thomas, 30, appeared in 40 games for the Wizards this season, averaging 12.2 points and 3.7 assists in 23.1 minutes. The Tacoma native holds career averages of 18.1 points and 5.0 assists in 28.9 minutes over 525 games with seven NBA teams. The 5’9”, 185-pound guard played three collegiate seasons at the University of Washington, where he was named to the 2010-11 All-Pac 12 first team before being drafted by the Kings with the 60th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Robinson, 22, was selected by L.A. with the 13th pick in the 2018 Draft and has appeared in 75 games for the team. In his two seasons with the Clippers, he has averaged 3.1 points and 1.3 rebounds in 10.6 minutes. A three-year player at Boston College, Robinson earned First Team All-ACC honors as a junior in 2018.

Spurs sign Trey Lyles

The San Antonio Spurs have signed F Trey Lyles, the team announced today.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a two-year deal.

Originally, Marcus Morris and the Spurs reportedly had agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the Spurs, but Morris had a change of heart, and the Spurs signed Lyles. According to ESPN, Morris is expected to sign with the New York Knicks.

Lyles, 6-10/235, appeared in 64 games for the Denver Nuggets last season averaging 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 17.5 minutes. In two seasons with the Nuggets, he averaged 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 18.3 minutes. Appearing in 288 total contests, Lyles holds career averages of 7.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 17.5 minutes.

The former University of Kentucky Wildcat was a first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft (12th overall) by the Utah Jazz. Lyles spent his first two seasons with the Jazz before being sent to Denver on draft night in 2017. While with Utah, Lyles was selected to the 2016 and 2017 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend.

Mavericks sign Kristaps Porzingis to multi-year extension

 The Dallas Mavericks and forward/center Kristaps Porzingis have agreed to extension, the team announced today.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, it’s a five-year, $158 million maximum contract, which gives him a player option in the final season in 2023.

Porzingis, 23, was originally acquired by the Mavericks on January 31, 2019 along with guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke, in exchange for guard Dennis Smith Jr., center DeAndre Jordan, guard/forward Wesley Matthews and two future first-round draft picks.

He holds career averages of 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 31.0 minutes per game in 186 games (185 starts). He averaged a career-high 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and a career-high 2.4 blocks in 48 games (all starts) for the Knicks during the 2017-18 season en route to being named a 2018 NBA All-Star. Porzingis suffered a torn left ACL against Milwaukee on Feb. 6, 2018, ending his 2017-18 campaign and he has not seen game action since the injury.

The former fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft appeared in 72 games (all starts) for the Knicks as a rookie in 2015-16, averaging 14.3 points, a career-high 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 28.4 minutes on his way to being named to the 2016 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

A native of Liepaja, Latvia, Porzingis began his professional career with Spain’s Cajasol Seville. He was a two-time recipient of the ACB All-Young Players Team (2014, 2015) and was also named a EuroCup Rising Star in 2015.

Giants’ Jones on the possibility of Zion Williamson coming to NY: ‘That would be a cool deal’

The NBA Draft Lottery is May 14, and at this point, teams are salivating at the opportunity to take former Duke star, Zion Williamson, and based on what we have seen during his time at Duke, Williamson has the potential to be the next big thing.

The Knicks, Suns, and Cavaliers have the best opportunity to get Williamson. All three teams have a 14% chance to get the number one overall pick. Wherever he goes, Williamson is going to be box office. He easily was the most popular player in college basketball last season.

One guy who would love for Williamson to go to New York is the newest Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who played his college ball at Duke and was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

“I have gotten to know him a little bit,” Jones said on Friday after Giants Rookie Minicamp. “We talked a little bit about that actually this week. That would be a cool deal. We will see what happens. He is a special guy.”

If Williamson goes to the Knicks, man, that would give that city and franchise a big boost, and quite frankly, it’s probably good for the NBA. I always believe that the Knicks being right is great for the NBA, and Williamson to New York could help the Knicks become relevant again. Plus, if all goes well, Jones and Williamson could be the new faces of New York City sports, which would be a great thing for fans in the “Big Apple.”

Kenny Smith on Fizdale to NYK: ‘They made the right choice, but not the best choice’

The New York Knicks have struggled mightily over past few years. This team has not made the playoffs in five years and has not won an NBA title in 45 years.

Now, with the hiring of former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, the Knicks hope to get back to being one of the premier franchises in the NBA.

One guy who was in the running for the Knicks head coaching job was New York native and TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith. While Smith thinks the Knicks made the right decision in hiring Fizdale, Smith believes he was the better choice:

“I think they made the right choice. He’s a great coach; he’s going to do a good job, but maybe not the best choice. I’m the best choice,” Smith told TMZ Sports. “They made the right choice, but not the best choice.”

Smith, 53, has no coaching experience, so for the former two-time NBA champion to be considered for the Knicks job was a big deal:

“There’s only a handful of jobs in the world, and you’re a finalist for one them in the world. That means your one of the top candidates in the world,” Smith explained.

Smith does expect to get an NBA head coaching job at some point.

Fizdale is well respected around the league, so maybe he is the right guy for the job, but only time will tell if Fizdale was the best guy for the job.