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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    The Cavaliers will play the second game of a back-to-back when they travel to take on the Washington Wizards.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cavaliers (2-11) will play the second game of a back-to-back when they travel to take on the Washington Wizards (4-9). 

    When: 7 p.m. 

    Where: Capital One Arena

    TV: FoxSports Ohio

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM.

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs beat the Wizards 119-115 on April 5. 

    Cavs minute: This will be Cleveland's second back-to-back set this season. ... Rookie Collin Sexton has reached double figures in scoring in three straight games -- coinciding with him being moved into the starting lineup for an injured George Hill. ...Tristan Thompson recorded his fourth consecutive double-double in Tuesday's win against Charlotte. ... Jordan Clarkson scored a game-high 24 points and has now reached double-digits in all 13 games. ... The Cavs' matched their season-high with 13 3-pointers against the Hornets. ... Kyle Korver (foot soreness) will miss his second straight game.  

    Wizards minute: The Wizards have lost the series against Cleveland three times in the past five seasons. ... The Wizards enter the night riding a two-game winning streak. It's their longest winning streak since March 14-17, 2018. ... The Wizards are 3-3 since Dwight Howard made his season debut. They are 1-6 without him. ... John Wall, averaging 8.2 assists, ranks third in the NBA in that category. ... Bradley Beal has scored at least 20 points in 10 of the 13 games to start the season. ... Otto Porter Jr. tallied 15 or more points in all three of his outings against Cleveland last season. 

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F JR Smith

    F Larry Nance Jr.

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G Collin Sexton

    Wizards

    F Otto Porter Jr.

    F Markieff Morris

    C Dwight Howard

    G John Wall 

    G Bradley Beal


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    Osman, who had started the first 11 games he played, will come off the bench for the first time this season.

    WASHINGTON -- After missing two straight games with lower back spasms, Cedi Osman will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers' lineup tonight against the Washington Wizards. 

    Osman, who had started the first 11 games before injury, will come off the bench for the first time this season. Head coach Larry Drew said he will monitor Osman's workload, but isn't technically on a minutes restriction. 

    Drew also said before the game that he wanted to stick with the same starting group that helped Cleveland snap its five-game losing skid Tuesday night against the Charlotte Hornets. That means riding the two-big lineup featuring Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson on the floor together. 

    Osman is averaging 11.4 points, 2.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds. 

    The Cavs are still without four members of their usual rotation -- Kevin Love, Sam Dekker, George Hill and Kyle Korver. 


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    Evan Bainbridge, a 6-9 forward from Stow, highlights a three-man class for the Golden Flashes.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - The week-long early signing period for college basketball started Wednesday with players allowed to sign National Letters of Intent with the schools of their choice. Cleveland State had no signings, but Akron and Kent State both signed three.

    The KSU commitments include 6-9, 205-pound forward Evan Bainbridge from Stow, 6-5 guard Jerry Hernandez from suburban Chicago and 6-10 project Kalin Bennett from Little Rock, Arkansas.

    Akron basketball coach John Groce announced three signees for the Zips. Forward Camron Reece, guard Mikal Dawson and forward Ali Ali each signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Zips starting next season.

    Bainbridge (15 points, 6.5 rebounds as a junior) lacks the bulk to play long stretches inside, but there is nothing wrong with his ability to shoot from long range.

    "Evan is an elite shooter and passer for his size,'' Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff said. "We can't wait for him to join us next year."

    Bainbridge said he picked KSU "because they recruited me the hardest." He also said, "I'm a good rebounder," which should also be a plus for the Golden Flashes.

    Hernandez,  from St. Viatar High, considered a Player of the Year candidate in the state of Illinois, is multifaceted with the ability to play small forward and either of the guard spots.

    Hernandez averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists as a junior. Kent plans to use him at point guard, where he could be heir apparent to senior guard Jalen Avery.

    The project in the group is Bennett, a 6-10, 300-pound center at Link Year Prep (Branson, Missouri) who needs to get his weight and stamina under control to be a true force inside. Bennett is returning from a recent illness, but just last week posted 17 points in 12 minutes going 6-of-7 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line.

    "He can do everything you want inside, and he's got a lot of intangibles,'' said his AAU coach in Arkansas, Kevin Howard. "Just keep the weight off him and he'll be OK."

    Groce is very excited about his three-man class, although with just one senior on the current roster there will have to be some scholarship adjustments made going forward to get all the newcomers inside the 13-scholarship limit.

    "Our incoming class is a group of very skilled players with great size that impacts our versatility on both offense and defense both in the backcourt and in the frontcourt," Groce said in a release. "Camron is the most experienced of the bunch, having played two years at the junior college level, while Mikal and Ali will have the full four-year college basketball experience as Zips."
     
    Camron Reece, a 6-foot-7 forward from Oakland, California, attends Sheridan College, where current Zip Channel Banks played last season. Reece will have two years of eligibility remaining for Akron. When Reece and Banks were teammates (2017-18), Reece was a Third-Team All-Region IX selection after starting all 29 games for the Generals. He averaged 15.2 rebounds and 14.5 points per game.

    Dawson is a 6-foot-4 guard from Huntington, West Virginia. Last season he averaged 20 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

    "Mikal is a very long and athletic guard that will add versatility at both ends," Groce said. "He is an elite level playmaker that will be able to play all three guard positions. His length and athleticism also make him a very good defensive player."
     
    Ali Ali, a 6-foot-8 wing from Kendallville, Indiana, averaged 16.3 points shooting 47.4 percent on 3-pointers. He also grabbed 4.9 rebounds and averaged 4.6 assists.

    "Ali is a long, athletic wing that has the ability to play multiple positions," Groce said. "He has a high basketball IQ and makes his teammates better at both ends. We believe Ali has tremendous upside.''


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    Many think this is the beginning of the end of one of the best teams in NBA history.

    Golden State Warriors hothead Draymond Green was suspended after an on-court altercation with teammate Kevin Durant carried into the locker room. Green brought up Durant's impending free agency while continuing to call him a "b***h." Many think this is the beginning of the end of one of the best teams in NBA history. Others think winning cures all and the super squad will stay together. What do you think?

    PERSPECTIVES

    Welp. It was fun while it lasted. The Golden State Warriors are finally imploding. It was going to happen eventually, right? 

    There are too many egos to feed and only one ball to pass around. There was always going to be something that served as a catalyst for the end. There is no way this team can function after a year like this. This dynasty is over.

    'What happened, happened': Warriors' Kevin Durant addresses his heated exchange with Draymond Green

    People act like this doesn't happen all of the time with alpha competitors. Teammates will call each other out and hold each other accountable. They might even yell at each other. This is just what happens in a successful team. 

    This is not a sign of a rift or that the Warriors will break up. The Warriors will start winning, again, and this will all be put in the rearview mirror. Much to the chagrin of every other NBA fanbase, this team isn't breaking up.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    The energy that fueled a blowout win one night earlier was lacking from the opening tip on Wednesday.

    WASHINGTON -- There are steps every rebuilding team must take.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers took a few in the wrong direction on Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards.

    Instead of building on Tuesday's dominant all-around performance -- the next step in a long process for these young Cavaliers -- they suffered more growing pains, going backward against the Wizards in a 119-95 loss.

    Consider this yet another lesson.

    "We just didn't play well," head coach Larry Drew said after the game. "We didn't play with a lot of energy. The first couple of minutes dictated the whole game for us.

    "I just didn't think we had a true defensive presence early in the game. All of the things we had built up over the last four or five games, we kind of reverted back to some old habits, which we can't have, particularly on the road."

    The energy that fueled a blowout win one night earlier, the spunk the Cavs need to play with on a nightly basis to overcome obvious limitations, was lacking from the opening tip.

    Suiting up on the second night of a back-to-back, after arriving in the nation's capital around 1 a.m., the Cavs were lethargic early and never woke up. It didn't help that the team's heartbeat, Tristan Thompson, was sent to the bench with a pair of fouls three minutes into the game and didn't check back in until midway through the second quarter. By that time, the Cavs were trailing by 23.

    "It takes a lot of toughness, both mental and physical," Larry Nance Jr. said about playing the second game in two nights. "This team had a lot more rest than us coming into this game. But there's really no excuse for the way we started that game. You have to know they are going to throw their punches and you have to weather the storm and ride the game out. We certainly did not weather the storm."

    Just 24 hours after their best performance, the Cavs looked every bit the team that emptied the emotional tank to snap a five-game losing skid. They were a young team that tasted prosperity and didn't know how to handle it.

    They looked worn down, forced to play without at least four members of the rotation for the third straight game. Looked like a group eager to get to the final buzzer, seeing a four-day break on the horizon.

    Prior to tipoff, Drew was asked to give his keys to a win in Washington. He didn't hesitate.

    "Have to take care of the basketball," Drew said. "Can't turn the ball over. That's the a no-no in this building."

    The Cavs failed to accomplish their primary goal. Too often, they allowed the speedy, athletic Wizards to race out in transition and build early confidence. Instead of forcing the Wizards to function against the recently-improved halfcourt defense, the Cavs allowed dunks, layups and uncontested shots on the break.

    By the end of a miserable night, the Cavs had committed 23 turnovers, which the Wizards turned into 29 points. 

    As Drew said, that's a no-no. It's the quickest way to an embarrassing blowout. 

    "I know I came in and had a few crucial turnovers," said Collin Sexton, who had four miscues. "Just have to take care of the ball. Feel like I gave up some easy points because of my turnovers."

    For most of the night, the offense looked out of rhythm. The Cavs failed to reach the 100-point mark for the third time in the last four games. They shot 35-of-76 (46.1 percent) from the field and 4-of-21 (19 percent) from 3-point range. 

    The defense didn't have much of a chance. The Wizards shot 44-of-92 (47.8 percent) from the field and canned 13 triples. 

    The Cavs left for Washington D.C. late Tuesday night feeling good about where they were headed. They believed they were playing better, growing together as a group. 

    Drew even said he could see light at the end of the tunnel. On Wednesday, it was only darkness. Again.

    Collin Sexton a bright spot

    Drew could sense an eagerness from Sexton prior to tipoff. A matchup against All-Star John Wall, who Sexton grew up watching, will do that.

    The rookie looked ready. He tallied a career-high 24 points on 9-of-16 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range. Sexton added three rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes.

    Wall, meanwhile, scored just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting and had nine assists in 22 sloppy minutes. 

    Cavs killer

    Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. scored at least 15 points in all three games against the Cavs last season.

    He was at it again Wednesday. 

    Porter tallied 15 on 7-of-11 from the field to go with four rebounds and three assists in just 26 minutes, sitting on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. Porter made six of his first seven shots and attacked Rodney Hood relentlessly before Hood, Cleveland's expected second scoring option, picked up three early fouls. 

    Slow start

    One of the keys for the Cavs during this competitive stretch has been avoiding runaway moments.

    They went down 14-4 early, forcing Drew to call timeout. The Cavs responded, creeping a bit closer. But a stellar shooting first quarter, going 13-of-18 (72.2 percent) from the field, was sabotaged by seven turnovers and flimsy defense.

    Drew tried to ignite his team with a pair of timeouts in the first eight minutes. But the Cavs were staring at a 12-point deficit at the end of the quarter. 

    Up next

    The Cavaliers will have four days off before heading to Detroit for their matchup against the Pistons on Monday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.


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    OU holds the tiebreaker advantage over UB with one game to play for the division title, but in need of a lot of help.

    ATHENS, Ohio - Just when it looked like the Mid-American Conference East Division title hopes for Ohio University were dashed, coach Frank Solich and his Bobcats rose up Wednesday night against division-leading Buffalo to get right back in the championship hunt with a 52-17 victory over first-place Buffalo.

    Thanks to a career-high 196 rushing yards and two TD from senior tailback A.J. Ouellette the win in Peden Stadium was  a statement by the Bobcats (7-4, 5-2) over the Bulls (9-2, 6-1).

    "We needed to have a statement game,'' Ouellette said.

    OU holds the tiebreaker advantage over UB with one game to play for the division title, but is in need of help.

    Buffalo must stumble again next Friday on the road at Bowling Green (2-8, 1-5), while Ohio takes care of business at home against Akron (4-5, 2-4). The Bobcats would then have the crown holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bulls.

    Miami (5-6, 5-2) beat Northern Illinois on Wednesday, 13-7, and remains in the hunt heading into next week's game at Ball State.

    OU and Buffalo opened the game like it would be a shootout. But after taking a 7-0 lead Buffalo proceeded the rest of the half to shoot themselves in the foot while the Bobcats were nearly flawless.

    "We play four quarters mistake free. I think we're the best team out there," Ouellette said.

    Penalties wiped out one promising drive, a pair of Tyree Jackson interceptions ended two others and a UB fumble yet another. Meanwhile the Bobcats were rolling the tote board. It was 14-7 after the first quarter, then 31-10 at the half.

    Ohio scored on short runs, a big 66-yard pass play, a 22-yard field goal and what looked to be a game-clinching eight-yard plow drive by Ouellette inside the final minute gave OU a 31-7 lead and Ouellette 109 of his yards rushing for the game.

    Even with a a 40-yard field goal as time expired, Buffalo was still in a three-touchdown hole at the break. The Bobcats left no doubt about the outcome with a long drive to open the third quarter, padding their lead to 38-10 with 9:44 to go in the quarter. A 27-yard TD pass from Nathan Rourke to Papi White moments later turned the game into a route, 45-10.


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    The top five scorers in NBA history are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- LeBron James moved into fifth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list during the Los Angeles Lakers' 126-117 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. LeBron's 39th point of the game, a free throw to complete an And-1 with 3:55 left in the fourth quarter, pushed him past Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time list.

    LeBron finished with 44 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Lakers (8-6) won their fourth in a row. LeBron went 13-of-19 from the field, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range, and 13-of-15 from the line.

    Top 6 in NBA career points:

    • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- 38,387.
    • Karl Malone -- 36,928.
    • Kobe Bryant -- 33,643.
    • Michael Jordan -- 32,292.
    • LeBron James -- 31,425.
    • Wilt Chamberlain -- 31,419.

    LeBron has scored 23,119 with the Cleveland Cavaliers (11 seasons), 7,919 with the Miami Heat (four seasons) and 387 with the Lakers (first season).

    LeBron, asked after the game by ESPN play-by-play voice Dave Pasch what passing Wilt into fifth in scoring means to him, said, in part: "To even be mentioned with the greats who've ever played this game, it just always brings me back to my hometown of Akron. Knowing where I come from, knowing how hard it was to get to this point, and just never being in 'satisfied' mode.''


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    That's part of Thompson's responsibility now. In a season defined by internal growth, he took a big step following Cleveland's latest double-digit defeat.

    WASHINGTON -- Sometimes being a leader means receiving a bulk of the credit when things go well. That's what happened Tuesday night. Thompson was showered with praise by teammates and coaches following a fourth consecutive double-double, a game in which he guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to a much-needed win against the Charlotte Hornets.

    Other times being a leader means shouldering the blame.

    That's part of Thompson's responsibility now. In a season defined by internal growth, he took a big step following Cleveland's latest double-digit defeat.

    "I'm going to take a lot of ownership on that," Thompson told cleveland.com of the 119-95 loss before leaving the arena. "In terms of tonight, getting in foul trouble early, it takes away the toughness and energy, that's what I bring to the team as a veteran leader. I'm going to take responsibility for that.

    "Getting in early foul trouble messed up rotations, but those things I bring were taken away from our starting unit so I have to be smarter with those fouls and don't put us in those holes. I'm going to put a lot of it on me messing up the whole flow of the game."

    It's tough to single out one player in a 24-point loss that stopped being competitive midway through the first quarter. Plenty of guys could've done more.

    Jordan Clarkson, who has become the team's leading scorer in Kevin Love's absence, tallied just nine points on 4-of-13 from the field. It was the first game this season that Clarkson failed to reach double figures in scoring. He also committed a team-high six turnovers on a night when taking care of the basketball was priority No. 1.

    Rodney Hood, who teammates always encourage to be aggressive, played timid. Attacked repeatedly by Otto Porter Jr. at one end of the floor, Hood made little impact on offense to make up for it.

    JR Smith was a non-factor, scoring six points on 3-of-11 from the field. Cedi Osman looked rusty after missing the previous two games with lower back spasms.

    But nobody played a bigger role in the blowout loss than Thompson. It's not what he did when he was on the floor. It's what he couldn't do because of foul trouble.

    With the Cavs playing the second game of a back-to-back, after arriving in D.C. around 1 a.m., they needed his infectious energy. As JR Smith told cleveland.com one night earlier, no one plays a bigger role in Cleveland's success than Thompson. The Cavs go as he does.

    Sure, they have numerous deficiencies. But playing with energy isn't usually a problem. Neither is putting up a fight against a superior foe. Thompson is the tone-setter.

    Plastered to the bench because of two silly fouls in three minutes -- one contesting a fading Markieff Morris jumper that had little chance of going down -- there was no one to wake the Cavs from their slumber. Head coach Larry Drew tried, calling two early timeouts.

    There was no one to set those menacing screens to free up teammates for quality shots. No one to be the defensive linchpin, the one to provide some resistance as the Wizards were repeatedly shredding the Cavaliers' leaky defense and scoring with relative ease. No one to settle the team, help weather the storm, while the Wizards were making their early run.

    They missed Thompson's voice. They missed his toughness. Missed his rebounding. Missed his non-stop motor. His rolls to the rim.

    By the time Thompson checked back into the game at the 7:26 mark of the second quarter, it was essentially over. The Cavs were trailing by 23 points.

    "It hurt us a little bit," Drew said. "Never like to lose a starter that early in the game. Just an unfortunate situation and thought we would be able to play out of it. But it did affect us."

    Drew said he goes into every game with a backup plan. Prior to Wednesday's matchup, Drew and his staff discussed options in case of Thompson's foul trouble. Playing against burly Dwight Howard, needing to be physical to deal with him inside the paint, the Cavs believed it was likely for Thompson to rack up fouls.

    The Cavs did the same thing with Collin Sexton, as the rookie had a tough matchup with John Wall. Just in case Sexton was overwhelmed and picked up some early fouls trying to keep the speedy Wall out of the paint, the Cavs wanted to be prepared.

    In the case of Thompson, the backup plan was David Nwaba, who popped off the bench and shifted Larry Nance Jr. to center. 

    Nwaba played well. But he can't replace Thompson. He's not the same kind of player. In a 24-point rout, the Cavs were only outscored by five points with Thompson on the floor. That number helps highlight his impact. 

    The Cavs lost Wednesday's game early, while Thompson was helplessly watching from the bench. As the team leader, that can't happen.

    "This was a big test for us no doubt. This arena against this team, I knew it would be a big test for us," Drew said. "But we didn't withstand it. Early in the game, I thought the first five minutes dictated the rest of the game. We just seemed we were in quicksand."

    Thompson is usually the one to do something about that. Tough to do from the sidelines. 


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    The Toledo Rockets became the sixth team in the Mid-American Conference to become bowl eligible with a victory over Kent State.

    KENT, Ohio - The game was a romp less than five minutes into the second half as the Toledo Rockets overwhelmed Kent State, 56-34, Thursday night in a steady, light snow at Dix Stadium.

    The Rockets (6-5, 4-3) were playing to become the latest Mid-American Conference team to be bowl eligible. The Golden Flashes (2-9, 1-5) were playing out the string on a season that has one game left.

    A long season for the Golden Flashes comes to an end next Friday at home against Eastern Michigan, while the Rockets should have a bowl opportunity for the fifth straight season.

    Toledo, leading 28-17 at the half, scored on the opening possession of the second half to take a 35-17 lead. Then moments later UT left no doubt about the outcome when linebacker Tyler Taafe picked off a Woody Barrett pass and returned it 31 yards for a 42-17 lead.

    "Obviously not the result we were looking for,'' first-year KSU coach Sean Lewis said. "We did not start the second half the way we wanted to."

    It was 49-17 before Kent would score again. At the end of the third quarter, Toledo had tailback Bryant Koback with 192 yards rushing and Art Thompkins with 122. They did not play in the fourth. By the end of the game UT had 383 yards rushing overall and 517 yards of total offense.

    "It's about finishing tackles, finishing the plays,'' Kent safety Jamal Parker said of Toledo's ability to run so well.

    Kent tailback Jo-El Shaw had 115 yards rushing pacing Kent's 497 yards of total offense.

    After scoring first to take a 7-0 lead, Kent State spent the rest of the opening half chasing the Rockets. It was 21-7 before a slew of Toledo penalties got the Golden Flashes within range for a 27-yard field goal, cutting the UT lead down to 21-10 with 11:09 to play in the half.

    The more Toledo seemed to lose interest the more the Golden Flashes began to take advantage. Late in the second quarter, KSU used a 90-yard drive, ending with a 19-yard TD pass from Barrett to receiver Isaiah McCoy, to make it game again, 21-17, with 7:30 to go before the break.

    Then Kent lost its focus.

    With 3:01 to play Toledo punt returner Diontae Johnson misplayed a kick, then picked it up as the Golden Flashes slowed in their coverage. Johnson raced 83 yards untouched for a touchdown and 28-17 lead for Toledo going into the half.

    The Rockets had 247 yards rushing against Kent at the break and 299 yards of total offense. Kent, behind 182 yards passing, had 254 yards of halftime offense.

    That's the only place where the teams were close, as Toledo's opening second-half scoring salvo left no doubt about the better team.


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    Check here for the live leaderboard from the PGA Tour's The RSM Classic 2018 this week in Georgia.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Charles Howell III (8-under) led by two shots entering the second round of the PGA Tour's The RSM Classic 2018 on Friday, Nov. 16, in Georgia. J.J. Spaun and Austin Cook were tied for second.

    PGA TOUR
    THE RSM CLASSIC
    Site: St. Simons Island, Ga.
    Course: Sea Island Resort. Yardage: 7,005. Par: 70 (Seaside); Yardage: 7,058. Par: 72 (Plantation).
    Purse: $6.4 million. Winner's share: $1,152,000.
    Television: Thursday-Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m. (Golf Channel).
    Defending champion: Austin Cook.
    Last week: Matt Kuchar won the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
    FedExCup leader: Xander Schauffele.
    Notes: This is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year before play resumes in January in Kapalua. ... Webb Simpson at No. 20 is the highest-ranked player in the field at Sea Island. ... Matt Kuchar (Mayakoba) and Kevin Tway (Safeway Open) are the only two fall winners who were not previously eligible for the Masters. ... Kuchar lives at Sea Island but is playing the Australian Open this week. ... Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk makes his third straight start. He tied for sixth last week at Mayakoba. ... Dru Love, the son of tournament host Davis Love III, is playing on a sponsor's exemption for the third time. This is his sixth PGA Tour start this year. ... For five of the last six winners at Sea Island, it was their first PGA Tour victory. ... LSU freshman Garrett Barber is playing on a sponsor's exemption. He teamed with Cole Hammer of Texas to win the U.S. Amateur Four-ball Championship. Barber won the Jones Cup at Ocean Forest in January.
    Next tournament: Sentry Tournament of Champions on Jan. 3-6.

    (Fact box from the Associated Press.)


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    Three men were found guilty in a corruption case where NCAA men's basketball players accepted payments from agents to attend specific schools sponsored by a shoe company.

    Three men were found guilty in a corruption case where NCAA men's basketball players accepted payments from agents to attend specific schools sponsored by a shoe company. With other academic and sexual assault scandals rocking the NCAA as of late, some feel it's becoming apparent the organization needs to be put out of its misery and disbanded. Still, others argue new leadership is all that is needed. The NCAA has helped many athletes live their dreams after all. What do you think?

    PERSPECTIVES

    The NCAA is a toothless organization that has zero institutional control over the schools it is supposed to govern. It has allowed sports agents to infiltrate schools, corrupting athletes and families.

    The NCAA has also let schools get away with fake classes and sexual assault allegations with little to no action. The NCAA is a hypocritic institution screaming about amateurism at the sacrifice of students going hungry at times. College sports have outlived the need for the NCAA. It's time to disband it.

    The NCAA has its problems, but it's not like they are impossible to solve. The organization just needs a change at the top to right the ship. Disbanding the NCAA won't do anything other than throwing the college basketball world into chaos.

    The sport needs a governing body, and even though the NCAA is not perfect, it needs to be present to keep college basketball stable. All the organization needs to do is give the reins to someone else.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    With Korver sidelined, along with Cedi Osman for one overlapped game, David Nwaba has stepped in and caught Drew's attention.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Kyle Korver returned to practice on Friday afternoon and expects to be in the lineup Monday when the Cleveland Cavaliers play their next game against Detroit.

    This uncommon break in the schedule, four days between games, was perfect timing for Korver to stay off his sore right foot and he "feels good" after the extra rest. 

    "I wasn't in a terrible spot, it was just looking at our schedule it's a really unique stretch where we only had a couple of games over a week," Korver said. "Just sitting down with the medical staff and saying, 'Hey, take a few days here.' I feel really good. Ready to go."

    Korver said the injury occurred in the preseason while doing an exercise. That's when he tweaked his foot and has been feeling discomfort ever since.

    According to Korver, it's a different injury than the one he has dealt with since joining the Cavaliers. 

    "Decided to nip it in the bud and kind of be done with it." Korver said. 

    Prior to sitting out the previous two games, Korver had become a key piece of the  revamped bench. He had played at least 14 minutes in five of the six games with Larry Drew in charge.

    But with Korver sidelined, along with Cedi Osman for one overlapped game, David Nwaba has stepped in and caught Drew's attention.

    Nwaba, averaging 28.0 minutes in the last two games, turned in an "unbelievable" performance against Charlotte that helped the Cavs snap their five-game losing streak. In the most recent loss against Washington, Nwaba was the team's leading scorer off the bench, chipping in with 11 points on 5-of-8 from the field. 

    "We'll find a way to get David in there because he brings too much for the table," Drew said Friday. "We'll work Kyle back in slowly, we'll see how his foot progresses day to day. My plan is to definitely keep David as a rotational player."

    Nwaba has been used as an undersized power forward for much of the season. Osman was also part of the second unit against Washington, with Drew opting to stick with his two-big (Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr.) starting group. Jordan Clarkson is Cleveland's sixth man -- also a guard.

    Unless Drew shifts Osman to the primary ball-handler role on the second unit and bumps Andrew Harrison, it looks like Korver and Nwaba will be fighting for the same minutes. 

    "I've always liked David from afar," Drew said. "He's just a guy who comes in and plays hard. You feel his presence when he's out on the floor, whether he's doing something on the offensive end or whether he's doing something on the defensive end you feel his presence.

    "I like the attitude that he brings as far as taking a challenge to whoever he guards. I don't care who it is, he's going to take the challenge. He may score on you, but he'll step up to the plate and take the challenge. I admire that about any player that will do that."


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    Hill is getting closer to a return from a sprained right shoulder, which has sidelined him since suffering the injury late in the game against Orlando on Nov. 5.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- George Hill worked alongside Andrew Harrison on ball-handling drills Friday morning while rookie Collin Sexton launched jumper after jumper at the opposite hoop.

    Hill is getting closer to a return from a sprained right shoulder, which has sidelined him since suffering the injury late in the game against Orlando on Nov. 5. But his starting point guard spot may be gone when he gets back, pried away by the rising youngster who has started to blossom since stepping into the lead role.

    "Some guys are just like that. They develop a rhythm to playing. There are just guys who feel more comfortable starting than coming off the bench," head coach Larry Drew said following Friday's practice.

    "I think everybody wants to start, but everybody's production as a starter is not very good. As a coach, what I try to do, I try to look at what a guy does as a starter versus what he does off the bench. Certainly with G Hill out, Collin has definitely stepped up to the plate and made his presence felt and has made a major impact to what we've been doing."

    In four games as starter, Sexton is averaging 18.0 points on 48.4 percent from the field and 70 percent from 3-point range to go with 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

    With him on the floor, the Cavs have an offensive rating of 102.3, which ranks fourth-best of any player averaging double-digit minutes in those games. The team's defensive rating, a point of weakness for Sexton early on, is 102.0. That equals a positive net rating, one of three players capable of making that claim.

    During the four games without Hill, Sexton hasn't had it easy. He matched up against speedy two-year starter Dennis Schroder. One game later, it was a combination of Zach LaVine and pesky Ryan Arcidiacono. That night, Sexton missed a game-winner that would've capped a career game and also helped the Cavaliers rally from a double-digit deficit. But it certainly didn't take away from his otherwise terrific performance.

    He then starred in a showdown against Charlotte's Kemba Walker, outscoring him 16-7.

    According to NBA.com's stats, Walker went against Sexton on 41 possessions. Sexton held Charlotte's all-time leading scorer to zero points on 0-of-9 from the field.

    He had similar success against Washington All-Star John Wall, guarding the athletic point guard on 39 possessions while holding him to just six points on an inefficient 2-of-8 from the field. That night, even in a blowout loss, Sexton tallied a career-high 24 points and looked confident and capable throughout.

    "He's still a work in progress and he understands that. But right now it really looks like he's got into a rhythm, he's got into a groove as far as his play," Drew said. "Last couple games he's played against two premier point guards and I would say he's held his own. That's a huge sign of growth. Looks like he's in a pretty good rhythm as a starter."

    So that leads to the next question: If Sexton is already playing this well as a starter and he's a vitally important piece of Cleveland's future, should he stay put when Hill returns? Is there any benefit to going back to Hill, who started the first 10 games?

    Early this season, Hill claimed the starting gig because he was the best, most ready player for the responsibility. With winning as one of the top priorities, there was no justification for starting Sexton. It would've sent the wrong message. That decision also allowed then-coach Tyronn Lue to ease Sexton in, keeping him from putting too much on the teenager's plate.

    But what about now?

    "I'll have to look at things, I'll have to assess things and make a decision," Drew said. "I'll make that decision when George is ready to come back."

    That's the proper answer. Hill isn't ready. Plenty can change in the next few games. But Sexton's made it a tough decision. Perhaps more than anyone could have envisioned at the time he took over.

    "That's fair to say," Drew admitted. "The kid's played well. The team has played well and I'm just not talking in terms of wins and losses. The team has played well overall. Yeah, I think that's a fair assessment."

    At the time Sexton stepped in, he was being attacked verbally by veterans who were losing patience. Sexton looked frustrated and hurried, coming off his two worst performances of the season. That's when Drew felt it necessary to remind the old guard of Sexton's age and inexperience. 

    Kyle Korver was part of that group, one of the veterans still here to help guide Cleveland through this challenging transition.

    "Collin has shown a lot of growth Charlotte to Charlotte," Korver said while introducing a new timeframe.

    NBA seasons are so long it's often best to break them up into different segments. Sometimes it's pre and post All-Star break. Other times it's by month.

    Well, for the Cavs, who are 2-12 on the season, there are two segments: Before Charlotte and After Charlotte.

    It's in reference to the team hitting rock bottom during a 32-point loss on Nov. 3. That embarrassment capped a stretch in which the Cavs lost eight of nine games, six by double figures. That was the night players aired their grievances in the visitor's locker room, in which Sexton became the primary target, apparently overmatched sharing the floor with Walker and Tony Parker.

    Since then, everything has changed, including Sexton's role. One he might not relinquish.

    "I think in a short period of time he's doing better. He still has a ways to go and I think he would tell you that. But just his approach and his willingness to be coached, especially in these last five or six games, I think he's really turned a corner," Korver said. "It's exciting to watch him. He's a really talented kid."


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    No. 1-ranked Purple Raiders do it against a stingy defense and without starting quarterback.

    ALLIANCE, Ohio - Its no surprise that Mount Union would begin the NCAA Division III playoffs with Saturday's win at home over Denison.

    After all, the Purple Raiders are the nation's first-ranked team and its defending national champion.

    What is impressive, though, is that the Purple Raiders scored 60 points against a Denison team that had allowed an average of just 12.8 points in its previous six games, all wins. And that they did it without star quarterback D'Angelo Fulford.

    And that Mount Union (11-0) would shut out a Big Red offense that had scored 45.8 points per game while going 8-2 during its North Coast Athletic Conference co-championship regular season.

    The 60-0 win for the Ohio Athletic Conference champion Purple Raiders means they will play a second-round playoff game against Centre College (Danville, Kentucky) at noon next Saturday at a site to be determined on Sunday.

    Jake Keeney, with some help from Ernie Burkes, filled in at quarterback for Fulford, who left last week's regular season finale against Marietta with an undisclosed injury.

    "Jake kind of gives us the best guy to run our offense (against Denison), and Ernie gives us a different style of offense when he goes in," Mount Union coach Vince Kehres said after the game.

    "Jake had a great week in practice. He took the reins and did a great job, and Ernie gives us that balance."

    Kehres has led the Purple Raiders to two of its 12 national titles. The other 10 were won when his father, Larry Kehres, was Mount Union's coach. Larry remains as the school's athletic director.

    Keeney completed 11 of 15 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns. Jared Ruth caught six of his passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns.

    Burkes rushed for 47 yards and a 2-yard touchdown on 11 carries, and Josh Petruccelli ran 22 times for 128 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown sprint on the Purple Raiders' first drive.

    "It was awesome to just get our first drive and our first score out of the way, and to keep it going the rest of the game," said Keeney, a sophomore. "The guys helped me through the whole week to process and evaluate things."

    Keeney threw 16 passes during the regular season, while Fulford, a junior and second-year starter, compiled a quarterback rating that's second in the nation among all divisions.

    Keeney's touchdown passes to Ruth went for 16, 20, 67 and 61 yards, with Ruth sprinting for nearly all of them on the 20- and 67-yarders.

    "Jake just gave me an opportunity to make plays," Ruth said. "When he got the ball into my hands, I just tried to do the best I could to put six points on the board.

    "I had a lot of confidence in Jake. I know Jake is grounded and is a humble dude, and that he would be prepared when he got his opportunity."

    Justin Hill earned his third punt return touchdown of the season on a spectacular 63-yard jaunt, and cornerback Louis Berry picked off a deflected pass and went nine yards for a score. It was Berry's third touchdown this season on an interception return, and the Purple Raiders' 12th defensive touchdown - matching the number of total touchdowns scored by Mount Union opponents for the season. 

    The Purple Raiders closed the scoring on Kyle Moore's 41-yard pass to Demarco Haynes.

    Mount Union defensive tackle Ethan McComb made 3-1/2 tackles for loss, including 1-1/2 quarterback sacks. Strong safety Austin White intercepted a pass, and linebacker Danny Robinson had seven tackles.


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    It's early in the season, but the 2018-2019 Blue Devils are living up to the hype. Watch video

    It's early in the season, but the 2018-2019 Duke Blue Devils have lived up to every bit of their preseason hype. This may be one of the most high-flying, entertaining teams ever, drawing comparisons to Michigan's iconic Fab Five. That Wolverine team had Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard running teams out of the gym. Still, this Duke team is something else and has been putting opponents in a chokehold with its athleticism. Who would you bet on? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    Duke's team might be good, but they aren't iconic like the Fab Five. This is the team that defined "style" in the '90s. Baggy shorts, black socks and black shoes became the norm because these five ballers rocked at the Division I level. 

    Oh, and the Fab Five destroyed teams on the hardwood, averaging 81.9 points and feeding off each other in the open court. Duke wouldn't be able to stop this team.

    The Fab Five were icons, but style only gets you so far on the basketball court. These kids at Duke are that Fab Five team with even more electricity. 

    Zion Williamson is a more athletic version of Chris Webber and R.J. Barrett is the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018. Throw in Cam Reddish, who finished as the No. 3 recruit of 2018, and you have a frontcourt that is the talented than any other in the country. This team would run the Fab Five out of the gym.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.


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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (2-12) will travel to Detroit for their second matchup of the season against the Pistons (7-6) on Monday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (2-12) will travel to Detroit for their second matchup of the season against the Pistons (7-6) on Monday night. 

    When: 7 p.m. 

    Where: Little Caesars Arena

    TV: FoxSports Ohio

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM.

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs lost to the Pistons 110-103 in Detroit on Oct. 25, 2018.

    Cavs minute: This is the second of four meetings between the Central Division rivals. The final two games of the season series will be played on March 2 and March 18 at Quicken Loans Arena. ... In the first meeting, Cleveland's bench scored a season-best 64 points. ... Tristan Thompson (2,749) is two defensive rebounds shy of passing Jim Chones (2,750) for the 6th-most in franchise history. ... This season, Cleveland has outrebounded their opponent in 11 of 14 games, including each of the last five. ... Collin Sexton scored a career-high 24 points in Wednesday's loss against the Wizards. Sexton ranks fourth among rookies in scoring, averaging 12.9 points. ... David Nwaba has reached double figures in scoring in two straight games. 

    Pistons minute: Blake Griffin is one of two players in the NBA averaging more than 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo is the other. ... Griffin has recorded six games with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds, which is tied for the second-most such games in team history through 12 games ... Reggie Jackson has made at least one 3-pointer in all 12 games this season. ... Andre Drummond leads the NBA in rebounding, averaging 16.2 per game. ... Detroit has gone 5-2 against Cleveland at home since 2015-16. ... Langston Galloway has tallied double-digit scoring in five-straight games (11/3-11/11), which is one game shy of his career-long streak ... Detroit has made 132 3-pointers through 12 games this season, marking the highest total of any team in franchise history through as many contests. 

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F Larry Nance Jr.

    F JR Smith

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G Collin Sexton

    Pistons

    F Blake Griffin

    F Glen Robinson III

    C Andre Drummond

    G Reggie Bullock

    G Reggie Jackson 

    See Cavs stats

    See Pistons stats


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    The video, which is a way for the organization to say thank you for 11 great seasons, is slated to run early.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to honor LeBron James with a special video tribute during Wednesday night's game -- his first return to Quicken Loans Arena since joining the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this summer -- sources told cleveland.com.

    The video, which is a way for the organization to say thank you for 11 great seasons, is slated to run early. 

    In his most recent four-year stint with the Cavaliers, James solidified his legacy by guiding the team to four straight NBA Finals trips, including one memorable championship in 2016 that ended Cleveland's 52-year title drought.

    During the 2016 NBA Finals, James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks, earning MVP honors while helping Cleveland become the first team in history to rally from a 3-1 deficit. 

    That title and ensuing parade, combined with his place in franchise history as leader in nearly every major statistical mark, should lead to a much different environment at The Q for this return. 

    "I'm returning to a place where I've spent 11 years of my career," James told the Athletic recently. "I had some great moments, had some not so great moments, but, all in all, when you give everything to whatever, the franchise, a teammate, a coaching staff, anything, that's all that matters."

    The Cavs are certainly doing their part to make it a celebratory comeback as opposed to the vitriolic one James received in 2010 as a member of the Miami Heat when feelings were still raw. 

    That December night, James heard organized heckles from the angry sellout crowd. He had batteries thrown in his direction. He has said numerous times it was the most hostile and dangerous environment he's been in during his 16 years in the NBA. 

    But James' departure to Los Angeles this summer, his second time leaving the team as a free agent, was much different.

    There was no made-for-TV special, just a simple release from his agency announcing the move. The 2016 championship -- and the unforgettable memories from it -- still remain. 

    Following the official announcement on July 1, Cavs chairman Dan Gilbert even released a statement expressing his gratitude to James.

    "The entire Cavaliers franchise thanks LeBron for that precious moment and for all of the excitement he delivered as he led our team to four straight NBA Finals appearances," Gilbert wrote. "LeBron, you came home and delivered the ultimate goal. Nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform. We look forward to the retirement of the famous #23 Cavs jersey one day down the line."

    That's much further down the road. On Wednesday, it's just a small step, a way to show appreciation for the greatest player in franchise history. 


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    The Wolverines and the Buckeyes are coming together for the 115th time in their storied rivalry. Watch video

    The Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes are coming together for the 115th time in their storied rivalry. The Michigan Wolverines are in playoff position and a victory against the Buckeyes would be a nice feather in their cap. Ohio State comes into the game needing a win to jump ahead of the Wolverines in the Big Ten East Division standings, the only way to guarantee a spot in the Big Ten Championship game. Who will prevail?

    PERSPECTIVES

    Who will win "The Game"?

    Hail to the victors! Michigan is back in the playoff picture and college football is better for it. 

    The Wolverines are getting the job done on defense, where they are only allowing 13.5 points per game -- tops in the Big Ten and fifth in the nation. Jim Harbaugh has his boys playing championship level football and there is no way Ohio State is going to stop them.

    Ohio State is on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff picture, but the Buckeyes can get right back into the thick of the race with a win against Michigan. 

    The Wolverines might have the best defense in the Big Ten, but they haven't faced an offense like the Buckeyes. Ohio State comes into "The Game" scoring a Big Ten-best 41.6 points per game. Michigan won't be able to stop the Buckeyes' offensive onslaught. Columbus is taking this year's game.

    Ohio State-Michigan and the recent myth of the rivalry underdog

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.


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    For the Cavaliers, winning is a chore. Some nights it appears they need perfection just to stay competitive -- no matter the opponent. Truth is, their best may not even be good enough.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- LeBron James returns to Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday night, bringing memories of what used to be.

    For James, he's coming back with a new group of teammates, fresh off a dominant performance against his old friends in Miami. There's a sense of hope for the Lakers, a belief that anything is possible. James scored 51 points during the double-digit win on Sunday night -- a reminder of what he's still capable of and why Los Angeles, despite many imperfections, can't be overlooked in title chatter.

    It wasn't long ago when the Cavaliers were in that same position. A flawed group had championship dreams. The regular season was simply a lengthy and drama-filled stepping stone into the playoffs, which were all but certain. Divisional and conference banners weren't celebrated with as much gusto. Winning was the only marker for a successful season.

    Everything is different now.

    For the Cavs, winning is a chore. Some nights it appears they need perfection just to stay competitive -- no matter the opponent. Truth is, their best may not even be good enough.

    One night after James' Lakers shredded the Heat, Cleveland was getting blown out by the barely-above-500 Detroit Pistons before scrambling late to make the final score a touch more respectable.

    That's why success isn't solely measured by victories anymore. It can't be.

    It's why head coach Larry Drew continues to pull positives from losses, provided he sees the Cavaliers playing the right way, showing the requisite fight, avoiding embarrassing blowouts and getting individual growth from some of the long-term cornerstones.

    One week ago, the Cavs lost by double-digits against the Washington Wizards and yet Drew said he was "proud" of the team's fight. He said that defeat didn't take away from some of the good signs he had seen in recent games. He was once again preaching patience, reminding how difficult it is to break bad habits.

    That's what happens when James leaves. It takes time to remove the debris. This is Cleveland's new reality, one in which players are still grappling.

    "Come on, it's a challenge," Kyle Korver said recently when asked about redefining success. "We have gone from Finals the last couple of years to a different definition of success. It's a challenge. But I think everyone has done well with that. I think we all see how this group can grow and how this particular group can be at its best and I think everyone has bought in across the board. I really feel that way.

    "It hasn't always been the easiest and there's been some days where it's like, 'Arrgh.' You know? But this is it. This is what we're doing. I think everyone has bought into it and that's been part of the shift too, I think. It's taken a little bit of time for us to all do that."

    Korver arrived in a midseason trade on Jan. 7, 2017 for Mo Williams, Mike Dunleavy and an incredibly important future first-round pick that now hovers over this franchise and all its short-term decisions.

    Then-GM David Griffin knew the risks of sending away future assets in hopes of keeping the championship window open. It's the price of having James and no one would be foolish enough to balk. But the pick is more valuable than it was at the time of the swap, especially with James in Los Angeles and the rebuilding Cavaliers staring at an uncertain future.

    Its top 10 protection incentivizes the Cavaliers to tank, which has certainly played part in an organizational shift.

    "I think the frustration is always when ... like, guys that have been around, we know when a team really has a chance and when it doesn't to really be there at the end," Korver said. "You have to have a bunch of really good players. You have to have chemistry that is nurtured over time. But I think just how we were losing and the lack of competitiveness, the lack of execution, there were some significant things that we can control that were not getting done. That's when it's easy for veteran guys to get really frustrated.

    "When there's a plan in place, a vision, guys buying in, guys trying to do it together, I think everyone is OK with that. You want to win, but we're OK with it."

    JR Smith was in a similar spot. At the urging of James, who famously told Griffin "I got him" when the team was debating a trade for the mercurial shooting guard, the Cavs added Smith. Up until this season, winning was all he knew in Cleveland. There were no moral victories, it was title or bust.

    Smith has been yo-yoed since the beginning of the season, taken out of the rotation and put back in. He has started and come off the bench. Tuesday, he left the team in hopes for a trade.

    One of the holdovers from the LeBron era, Smith was viewed as one of the leaders. By all accounts he did a surprisingly solid job, joining forces with Tristan Thompson as the prominent voices since Kevin Love was shut down following surgery that could keep him sidelined until January.

    But Smith's body language fluctuated. The Cavs saw a shift in attitude shortly after Lue's dismissal and asked Smith if he even wanted to be around the team. He told them he wanted to stay and vowed to be a positive influence.

    That officially ended Tuesday.

    "I don't think the goal is to win. The goal isn't to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can," Smith said earlier in the campaign. "I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan."

    According to a league source, trading Smith is "easier said than done." He won't take a buyout.

    "I'm used to winning the last four years, too," Drew told cleveland.com. "It's not easy. These types of situations, what they do is test your character. They really do. Everybody can't play under these types of conditions. We know the organization, with Bron leaving, is taking a different approach. But still what I see from our veteran guys who have won, they are committed to coming out and playing hard and being part of this thing regardless of what the situation is."

    These challenges were to be expected and everything became much more arduous when Love went down after four games.

    This season, more than ever, is about growth and development. It's about trying to build positive habits, even if the end result isn't that desired victory.

    On Wednesday night, the numerous banners James helped hang will still be inside his old palace. A video will play early on, a way to honor James for his numerous accomplishments. It will be a flashback to the glory days.

    But everything else is different.

    James will be walking into a renovated arena. If he strolls a few hundred feet down the hallway from where the Lakers gather, he will see a revamped Cavaliers locker room and a state-of-the-art player's lounge. His old locker is gone, the carpeting and lights have been replaced, the walls repainted. The arena he called home for the last four seasons, the best stretch in franchise history, has been given a complete makeover. 

    That old Sherwin-Williams banner across the street has been replaced. His former coach Tyronn Lue is gone. One more ex-teammate is gone, others may exit ahead of the trade deadline. 

    The Cavs felt a tectonic shift when James announced his return in 2014. The same happened with his summer exit. Futures changed. Expectations did as well.

    His return on Wednesday night is yet another reminder of what the Cavs lost and the challenge of accepting this harsh new reality.


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    The team announced Tuesday that Smith will no longer be with the team as the organization works with Smith and his representatives regarding his future.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- JR Smith's time as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers has come to an end. 

    The team announced Tuesday that Smith will no longer be with the team as the organization works with Smith and his representatives regarding his future. 

    "The organization wishes JR and his family well and appreciates and thanks him for his contributions in the community, to the team and his role in the 2016 NBA Championship," the Cavaliers wrote in a statement announcing the move. 

    The Cavaliers will continue to look for trades involving Smith, who publicly expressed his desire for that to happen earlier this season. But in the meantime, Smith will stay away from the team, no longer playing in or attending games.

    This decision comes on the heels of Smith's comments to The Athletic following Monday's blowout loss in Detroit, a game in which Smith was moved out of the starting lineup in favor of Cedi Osman and played just six minutes. He then accused the Cavs of tanking.  

    "I don't think the goal is to win. The goal isn't to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can," Smith told The Athletic. "I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan."

    The Cavs and Smith have been on shaky ground for months. 

    According to sources close to the situation, the Cavaliers first approached Smith and his reps ahead of training to let him know his role would be much different this season, even informing him there was a chance he wouldn't be part of the team's rotation.

    Following Tyronn Lue's firing, general manager Koby Altman even discussed Smith leaving the team if he wouldn't hold up his end and be an influential veteran for a group of youngsters. Smith opted to stay at that time and vowed to be a positive influence. 

    At the time of those talks, it was reiterated to Smith that "actions speak louder than words" and he had said the right things in the past before failing to live up them. 

    In this most recent case, it's his words that have led to this separation. 

    Smith, 33, is earning $14.7 million this season and has $3.8 million of his $15.6 million guaranteed for next season. 

    Despite wanting to be out of Cleveland, Smith --  averaging a career-low 6.7 points on 34 percent shooting in 20.2 minute -- and the Cavs are not currently considering a buyout.

    Smith's departure becomes the latest challenge for the Cavaliers, who have started this season with a league-worst 2-13 record. Coach Tyronn Lue was fired last month, replaced by Larry Drew. Injuries have been problematic, as All-Star forward Kevin Love remains sidelined indefinitely following foot surgery. They have lost eight games by double figures. 

    When the Cavs welcome LeBron James back to Cleveland Wednesday night, Smith won't be there to see his old teammate.


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