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

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    The switch-everything Houston Rockets, getting their first look at Cleveland's rapidly-improving rookie, implemented that go-under strategy on Saturday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The scouting report on rookie Collin Sexton is clear: Go under screens and force him to make jumpers.

    It's been that way since he was at Alabama. It's what the experts felt was his most glaring weakness heading into the NBA Draft.

    The switch-everything Houston Rockets, getting their first look at Cleveland's rapidly-improving rookie, implemented that go-under strategy on Saturday night.

    When there wasn't a screen, opposing players just sagged off to try to take away driving lanes. Bigs, guards, forwards, it didn't matter. Everyone took a crack at Sexton and approached it the same way, repeatedly daring him to knock down outside shots.

    He did. He hit nine of them, including an impressive 8-of-10 on mid-range jumpers.

    Sexton jumper 2 from Chris Fedor on Vimeo.

    "I think for any young player that comes into the league, and whatever the scouting report may be against that guy, they're going to play you and force you to prove them wrong," head coach Larry Drew said. "And I think certainly Colin is starting to open eyes as far as his ability to make shots on the perimeter. I think the scouting report on him was to go underneath him on the screen and roll.

    "He's proven everybody wrong."

    That's Sexton. He relishes the challenge and plays with an enormous chip on his shoulder.

    Sexton went from little-known college recruit to one of the top prep players in America. He took a football school, Alabama, to the NCAA Tournament. He almost led the Tide to a win against Minnesota as a freshman despite being forced to play 3-on-5. Proving people wrong is nothing new to him.

    He won't admit it publicly, of course, but the way the youngster is wired he's out to silence the doubters who once questioned his draft position and were ready to make declarative statements about his career in the first month. More appropriately, he's out to prove the Cavaliers right for believing in him, wanting to make him the centerpiece of this rebuild.

    Sexton's already made his teammates, the ones who felt he didn't know how to play a few weeks back, change their tune.

    If he keeps up this level of shooting, Sexton will start to change the scouting report too.

    "If you try to take away what you perceive to be a weakness of his, he's going to try to prove you wrong," Drew said. "Thus far he has certainly proven people wrong about their ability to defend him in the pick and roll. If they continue to go underneath him, I'm going to encourage him to take that shot."

    During Saturday's 117-108 win, Sexton tallied a career-best 29 points on 14-of-21 from the field and 1-of-3 from 3-point range.

    With 4:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Rockets had cut the lead to six points. Sexton was working one-on-one against Eric Gordon on the right side.

    Between the legs, behind the back, in and out with the left hand. Pull-up jumper. Splash.

    Sexton jumper from Chris Fedor on Vimeo.

    It's a combination he works on tirelessly with player development coach Mike Gerrity. There it was giving the Cavs an eight-point lead again and helping hold off a potential late surge by Houston.

    "That's my shot, so if they give it to me, I'm going to take it," Sexton said. "My teammates have confidence in me in taking the shot and making it, so I feel like if they're sagging off, I have to be able to knock it down so my teammates can get open shots."

    Less than three weeks ago Sexton was in the crosshairs. Teammates were doubting him. He looked overwhelmed. Drew felt the need to speak to his group about being patient with Sexton. He felt the criticism was over the top and unfair.

    That moment in Orlando has changed everything. In a strange way, George Hill's shoulder injury came at the perfect time.

    It's allowed Sexton to move into the starting lineup where he has blossomed into an early Rookie of the Year candidate. It's allowed him to build trust, no longer being looked at as a frustrating symbol of the team's rebuild or the favored rookie getting significant playing time because of a decree from above.

    At a time when doubts were rising, Sexton needed a chance to restore confidence.

    "He's finding a really good rhythm," Tristan Thompson said. "I think myself and the other veterans are finding ways to make it easier for him. In terms of sets we want to run, find a package of offensive sets that he likes, that he's comfortable with and he can read and make plays off.

    "Me and him in the pick-and-roll is going to be good because I'm going to set the screen and it's going to give him an easy look to see where the big is playing. Just trying to find what he's comfortable with and throw that out there. As time goes on, we will add some different offensive schemes he can get comfortable with and go from there."

    Since taking over for Hill in the starting lineup -- a role Sexton is likely to hold onto when Hill returns from a shoulder injury any day now -- Sexton is averaging 19.6 points on 50.8 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point range to go with 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

    In the 10 games before that, Sexton was averaging 10.5 points on 40.7 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc.

    Sexton's father has been working with him since he was young. When something's off with his form, Sexton's dad is the one to help correct it. About one week ago, Sexton's dad noticed a flaw in the mechanics. The two went to the gym and worked through it.

    The results are indisputable. Just ask the Rockets. They entered Saturday night with a specific defensive plan. Sexton ruined it.


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    The Cavaliers (4-14), riding a two-game winning streak, will host the Minnesota Timberwolves (9-11) on Monday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cavaliers (4-14), riding a two-game winning streak, will host the Minnesota Timberwolves (9-11) on Monday night. 

    When: 7 p.m.

    Where: Quicken Loans 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 Timberwolves 131-123 in the second game of the season on Oct. 19.

    Cavs minute: The Cavs beat the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, their first official winning streak of the season. Both wins came against teams with a winning record ... In the two wins, the Cavs are averaging 119.0 points on 50.8 percent from the field. ... Cleveland has won five straight games against Minnesota at The Q. ... During Saturday's win vs. Houston, the Cavs pulled down a season-best 20 offensive rebounds. Led by Tristan Thompson, the Cavs rank third in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game at 12.7. ... Collin Sexton scored a career-high 29 points, making it the first time in his NBA career that Sexton has tallied 20-plus in back-to-back games. ... Jordan Clarkson, fourth among NBA reserves in scoring, has piled up double-digits in all 12 of his career matchups against Minnesota. ... David Nwaba has scored in double figures in all three of his starts. 

    Timberwolves minute: Minnesota has won two straight games, marking its second-longest streak of the season. ... The Wolves are 5-2 since trading Jimmy Butler to the 76ers. ... Center Karl-Anthony Towns has scored in double figures in 19 of 20 games. The lone single-digit game was the season opener. ... The Wolves are 0-4 when scoring less than 100 points this season. ...  The Wolves have scored 20 or more points off turnovers in four of their last six. ... Minnesota is just 1-8 away from Target Center. ... Former Cavs draft pick Andrew Wiggins was held scoreless for the first time in his career during Saturday's win. ... Derrick Rose, traded by the Cavs at last year's deadline, is averaging 20.1 points on 54 percent shooting and 56.1 percent from 3-point range in the month of November. 

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F David Nwaba

    F Cedi Osman

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G Collin Sexton

    Timberwolves

    F Taj Gibson 

    F Robert Covington

    C Karl-Anthony Towns

    G Andrew Wiggins

    G Jeff Teague

    See Cavs stats

    See Timberwolves stats


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    The cliches you always hear about The Game are all true. Ohio State-Michigan is still a rivalry game, in ways the Browns' division games, even in victory, aren't.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - I promise to remember that Ohio State-Michigan is a rivalry game and that anything can happen in it, even if for the last three decades only two things have happened.

    Either Michigan won almost all the time when Ohio State was coached by John Cooper, or Ohio State won almost all the time when it was coached by almost anyone else.

    I picked Michigan to win this year. The Buckeyes laid a 62-39 extinction event on Michigan instead. Afterward, an internet meme of a sign at the state-line proclaimed,  "Welcome to Michigan, owned by Urban Meyer."

    I will remember that rivalry games, like Trix, are for kids - even in the warm glow of the Browns' first  w-w-winning  (It's hard to get the words out, even if it's only two games) streak since October 2014.

    They're about the colors, college friends and memories, even of the math midterm, on which a distinguished silver-haired gentleman of my acquaintance (blush) got a 29. The best score in the class was a 57. Rockets have not gone farther over the head of a freshman English major than that test did.

    After the Browns' 35-20 win in the "Battle of Ohio," perhaps the new Bengals consultant, "Boo Hue" Jackson, former  maestro of the orange and brown, is spreading incompetence from the lake to the river, from sea to shining sea, from the Earth to the moon, and thence to infinity and beyond.

    I  treasure America's top college rivalry because Jim Harbaugh, former Michigan quarterback, and Meyer "get" its meaning.  

    Earle Bruce groomed his young graduate assistant, Meyer, by asking him and anyone else he ran into on the staff, "What have you done today to beat Michigan?"

    That was the mindset even if The Game was 310 days away, as it was when Jim Tressel, another former Bruce aide, on the day he was hired, vowed to put pride back in the rivalry.

    Cooper never believed the Holy of Holies of The Game, which was that Woody Hayes' teams practiced for Michigan throughout  the season. 

    Meyer doesn't just embrace the rivalry. He tackles it, saps Wolverines fans' spirits, and reduces even this year's lordly Michigan team to discord and despair.

    So pervasive is Meyer's chromophobia (irrational aversion to a color, in this case,  blue) that he has been known to upbraid  Ohio reporters dressed in the hated hue. (The shade, not the alleged coach.)

    In 2014, running back Zeke Elliott refused to answer a question because the reporter declined  to call Michigan "The School Up North."

    I will remember that you can throw the records out in a rivalry game, although why would you want to in Dwayne Haskins' historic season?

    Haskins' revised total of six touchdown passes Saturday gave him 41 for the season, breaking no less than Drew Brees' Big Ten record of 39.

    I will remember that any similarity between Ohio State's 2014 national championship season and 2018 is coincidental.

    The 2014 Buckeyes went the whole season without their most irreplaceable player, quarterback Braxton Miller.

    The 2018 Buckeyes lost defensive end Nick Bosa, their most irreplaceable player, in September against TCU.

    Cardale Jones, taking over for  Miller's injured replacement J.T.Barretti, who was  then a red-shirt freshman, used a 59-0 rout of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game to begin a stunning national championship run.

    It included an enormous playoff upset of Alabama.

    Haskins led last season's comeback in Ann Arbor after Barrett, by then a fifth-year senior, was injured. 

    One of Alabama's greatest teams would be the first opponent if Ohio State somehow squeezed into the College Football Playoff as a No. 4 seed. The Buckeyes were No. 4 in 2014.

    Just sayin'.


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    Nwaba, a starter the last three games, will miss his fourth game of the season and first with an injury.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- David Nwaba, who has been at the center of the Cleveland Cavaliers' two-game winning streak, will miss Monday night's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves because of soreness in his right knee. 

    Nwaba, a starter the last three games, will miss his fourth game of the season and first with an injury. 

    Signed this summer because of his defensive reputation, Nwaba has become the team's primary stopper against the opponent's best perimeter scorer, holding James Harden to 4-15 from the field when matched up against him Saturday night. 

    Nwaba will join Sam Dekker and George Hill on the sidelines Monday. Both Hill and Dekker are getting closer to a return, but not yet ready. 

    With Nwaba out, Larry Nance Jr. is expected to move back into the starting lineup against the bulky Wolves that use a frontcourt featuring Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson. 

    Nwaba is averaging 6.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 17.4 minutes. 

    The timing of this isn't ideal for Cleveland. Following Monday's matchup against Minnesota, the Cavs will see a handful of talented wings, including Oklahoma City's Paul George, Boston's Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward and Toronto's Kawhi Leonard. 


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    Hockey is the only non-combat sport where fighting is not only allowed but looked upon favorably by fans and players. Watch video

    Hockey is the only non-combat sport where fighting is not only allowed but looked upon favorably by fans and players. Fighting is a special part of the sport that swings momentum and helps protect the skill players who make the game fun to watch. Others feel fighting is barbaric, and shouldn't be allowed in the sport anymore. What do you think?

    PERSPECTIVES

    Hockey is a brutally beautiful sport. People fly at each other wearing knives on their feet, armor on their bodies and sticks in their hands, displaying one-of-a-kind strength and speed on the ice.

    It is a rough-and-tumble ballet with hits, fights, and goals, and it is magnificent. People want to look at all the violent parts of the game and discount the sport. But this is a game of precision with a code that polices itself better than any sport out there.

    Hockey is beautiful, not barbaric.

    How can anyone watch hockey, and not think this is the most barbaric sport? It's a game that weaponizes sticks and glorifies the use of fists to solve problems. There is nothing beautiful about that.

    Although the NHL has cracked down on fighting and other penalties, there is still too much acceptable violence for this sport to be taken seriously. There is no purpose to fight anymore, with strict suspensions being handed down for dirty play. Fights are now just disgusting shows that have no meaning. Civilized sports don't need fighting to be legitimate.

    People outside the sport want to look at enforcers as the brutes of the sports world, looking for a fight because that's all they are good at. In reality, they are the glue that holds the sport together. They are the protectors of the ice and deter players from taking cheap shots at their teammates.

    It is a noble role that not everyone can take up, but these are the true gentleman of the league. They do the hard work, and get grief from opposing fans, and have outsiders attack their jobs--calling them goons and thugs.

    Enforcers may be the poster child of barbarism to NHL haters, but they are the people who get the most support and love from teammates and fans for doing a thankless job.

    A lot of people want to get rid of enforcers, but there is one important group who won't let that happen--NHL players.

    Some of the biggest stars are huge supporters of enforcers because they know what can happen without them out there. Even with rules in place, professional athletes will bend and break any rule if they feel it'll help them win.

    With referees unable to see everything on the ice, players get away with extra contact, grabs, hooks, and slashes that go unpunished. With enforcers out there, its an extra deterrent telling dirty players they have a price to pay regardless of whether a referee sees it or not.

    Enforcers are the most beloved players in the locker room because they protect their teammates. That isn't barbaric. That's beautiful.

    Aside from fighting, there is way too much violence on the ice. There is skill in hockey, but it is all dependent on how hard you can knock the other guy off the puck or if you can take the punishment with the puck.

    There are some egregious hits that go punished and unpunished. There was one incident that ended a player's career after his head was driven into the ice and another where Marty McSorley was charged with assault after taking a stick to another players head. This is the kind of vigilante enforcement fighting promotes.

    Hockey is more of a bloodsport than an actual game.

    It's all "honor" and "respect" until someone gets killed. Fights may be entertaining, but it shouldn't take the death of a player to make everyone reassess how barbaric hockey is. People cheer when athletes pound each other, but they don't take into account the human cost.

    Stu Hackel and Jeff Z. Klein from the New York Times has more about the story of Don Sanderson:

    Don Sanderson, a defenseman with the Whitby Dunlops in Ontario's top senior amateur league, died this morning in Hamilton after three weeks in a coma caused when his unprotected head struck the ice during a fight on Dec. 12. Sanderson sustained massive head trauma after his helmet came off during the fight, and he and the player he was fighting both fell to the ice.

    Senior player dies from injury sustained in on-ice fight

    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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    But that one minor move forced a few changes to the second unit as well, which had a massive impact on Monday's 102-95 loss.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- David Nwaba's absence created a nasty domino effect for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night. 

    With Nwaba being held out because of right knee soreness, head coach Larry Drew needed to alter his rotation, putting Larry Nance Jr. in the starting lineup and breaking up a group that had been responsible for quick starts over the past week. Drew had no choice. The hope was Nance's length and athleticism would help combat the Timberwolves' size in the frontcourt.

    But that one minor move forced a few changes to the second unit as well, which had a massive impact in Monday's 102-95 loss at The Q. 

    After going back and forth with the Timberwolves early, the Cavs' new-look reserve unit for one night -- Andrew Harrison, Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Korver and Ante Zizic along with one of the starters -- got off to a terrible start in the second quarter.

    The Wolves opened the period with a fiery 11-2 surge, which led to their first double-digit lead of the game and forced Cleveland to play from behind the rest of the way.

    Clarkson was the biggest culprit. He failed to score in his first eight minutes, missing both of his shot attempts. The Wolves sent extra help in Clarkson's direction, trying to get Cleveland's leading scorer this season -- at least, in terms of healthy bodies -- out of rhythm early.

    While Minnesota outscored Cleveland by 16 points in Clarkson's eight unproductive minutes, the team's struggles trickled down to the rest of the bench as well, leading to the lopsided numbers. 

    During the recent three-game turnaround, including back-to-back wins against Philadelphia and Houston, the Cavs were able to avoid those backbreaking runs.

    Another came at the start of the fourth quarter. Seeing the beginning-of-the-second-quarter horror show, Drew plugged Nance in for Zizic. Only that one move didn't lead to the desired result. This time, the Wolves started out with an 11-3 run, causing Drew to call for a few starters. 

    It was too late. The Cavs couldn't crawl all the way out of the deep hole. 

    They fought the rest of the game, putting a scare into Minnesota midway through the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to four at the 5:03 mark following Clarkson's jumper. They closed to within five with 24.5 seconds left following Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau's technical foul and a pair of free throws by Tristan Thompson. Kyle Korver's late triple made it four once again with 14.3 seconds left. 

    But the Wolves solidified the win at the stripe.

    In past nights, a large deficit would've ballooned even more. The Cavs didn't win this one, their two-game streak ending. But they were able to leave the floor proud of their effort, seeing a few positives and plenty of teaching moments. 

    They didn't play all that well Monday night and still hung around until the very end. In a season of growth, that's not to be overlooked. 

    The only difference was the start of the second and fourth quarters, a time when Cleveland's bench, which entered the night as one of the league's most productive, didn't hold up its end.

    Kyle Korver bombs away

    Korver was one of the few productive bench players. He scored a season-high 22 points on 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. Most of his damage was done playing alongside the starters.

    With Korver having the hot hand, Drew rode his veteran all the way to the end, choosing him over Clarkson and Cedi Osman for long stints. 

    Collin Sexton's point guard gauntlet begins

    Sexton said early Monday morning that he's not using this upcoming stretch as a measuring stick. 

    That's the right approach. 

    It began with Monday's game against Jeff Teague: Sexton will play against an All-Star point guard in four consecutive matchups.

    Teague, an All-Star in 2015 with Atlanta, had a big role in Sexton's struggles Monday night. Cleveland's rookie finished with just 11 points on a chilly 5-of-19 from the field and 0-of-3 from 3-point range. Sexton also tallied the same amount of turnovers (four) as assists.

    It's his lowest point total since taking over the starting lead guard role in George Hill's absence. And it's clear he was a target. 

    When Sexton tried to blow by Teague -- and even former MVP Derrick Rose -- both were able to match Sexton's speed and quickness and bother shots in the paint.

    On the other side, Teague poured in 13 points to go with six assists.

    Things won't be any easier for Sexton in the next few games. Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry await.  

    Up next

    The Cavs will head on the road for two straight. Their first stop is in Oklahoma City for the final matchup of the season against the Thunder on Wednesday night.


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    He's "progressing," according to head coach Larry Drew. Hill could even make his return Wednesday night against Oklahoma City. Watch video

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- George Hill played four-on-four with teammates and coaches, taking contact once again, prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers leaving for their two-game road trip Tuesday afternoon. 

    He's "progressing," according to head coach Larry Drew. Hill could even make his return Wednesday night against Oklahoma City, a team source told cleveland.com. 

    As the next step, the Cavs had Hill go through the post-practice contact session and is expected to take part in Wednesday's shootaround in Oklahoma City. His official status will be determined after that, as the training staff wants to see how Hill responds after two straight days of on-court work.

    If there are no setbacks, Hill will get the green light to suit up for the first time since Nov. 5, when he suffered a sprained right shoulder late in that game against Orlando.

    Hill hit the three-week mark on Monday night, missing his eighth consecutive contest.

    Drew reiterated Tuesday that he hadn't decided whether Hill would start at point guard when he's healthy. Collin Sexton has filled in admirably during Hill's extended absence, scoring double figures the last eight games. 

    Following Wednesday's matchup in Oklahoma City, the Cavs will play a weekend back-to-back against Boston and Toronto -- continuing a gauntlet of All-Star point guards that started Monday against Minnesota.

    Having Hill back for this stretch would be important, especially with the Cavs putting a big bulk of the offensive and defensive responsibility on Sexton lately.

    "Experience in the fact that he's played against those guys, he knows those guys," Drew said of Hill. "It's a big task to have to defend guys like that. A part of of Collin's growth process is to prepare himself to go out and play against those guys. Collin is not going to shy away. He's going to compete. If I tell him that's his matchup he's going to compete to the best of his ability.

    "Obviously having a veteran like George Hill that can defend those guys as well and be in Collin's ear does help a lot."


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    LeBron James and Kevin Durant are two of the best one-on-one players in the game today. Watch video

    LeBron James and Kevin Durant are two of the best one-on-one players in the game today. Both players have dominating offensive games, but who would prevail in a one-on-one matchup? James has a clear size advantage and could bully Durant on the block. Still, Durant has a more complete offensive game and length to take away anything his opponent could throw at him. What do you think?

    PERSPECTIVES

    Kevin Durant might have length and a more consistent jumper, but that won't matter when James is backing him down under the basket every possession. The current Lakers stud is too much to handle in the post with his big frame and ability to make tough contested shots. Not only that, he has the athletic ability to drive past Durant and finish over him. James' jump shot is also an underrated part of his game that has vastly improved over the years. Durant has no chance one-on-one.

    In one-on-one basketball, it's about having a complete and unstoppable offensive game. Durant has that wrapped up. The Warriors forward might have the most unblockable jump shot in the league with this length that seemingly stretches on forever. He's deadly from every spot on the floor, destroying defenses with a peerless turnaround fade-away from the post to his range that is only limited by the gym. LeBron James won't be able to stop every weapon Durant has at his disposal. The Slim Reaper takes this one-on-one matchup every time.

    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 Cavaliers (4-15) will begin their two-game road trip in Oklahoma City when they play the Thunder (12-7) for the second -- and final -- time this season on Wednesday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cavaliers (4-15) will begin their two-game road trip in Oklahoma City when they play the Thunder (12-7) for the second -- and final -- time this season on Wednesday night. 

    When: 8 p.m.

    Where: Chesapeake Energy 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 Thunder 95-86 on Nov. 7. That loss was the fourth of a five-game losing skid for Cleveland. 

    Cavs minute: The Cavs have won two of their last three in Oklahoma City. ... In Monday's loss against Minnesota, the Cavs shot 13-of-14 (92.9 percent) from the free throw line, their sixth time connecting on at least 90 percent from the charity stripe this season. ... Cleveland dished out 24 assists on 36 made field goals. The 24 assists are their second-highest assist total in a single game this season. ... Collin Sexton ranks among rookie league leaders in numerous statistical categories, including points (14.4, fourth-highest), assists (2.5, fifth-highest), free throw percentage (89 percent, NBA-best) and minutes (28.2, fourth-highest). ... Kyle Korver hit a season-high six triples and finished with a season-best 22 points during Monday's loss against the Wolves. It was Korver's second game of at least 20 points this season. ... Larry Nance Jr. ranks third on the team in assists. He dished out a career-high seven on Monday night. ... George Hill, who has missed the last eight games with a sprained right shoulder, may return to the lineup.

    Thunder minute: Since a slow start to the season, Oklahoma City has gone 12-3, the best record in the NBA across the last 15 games. ... Oklahoma City leads the league in defensive rating, holding the opposition to 102.5 points per 100 possessions. The Thunder loss on Saturday against the Nuggets snapped a streak of seven straight home wins. ... Oklahoma City leads the league for both the most steals per contest (10.63) and the most turnovers forced per game (18.0). This is the second-straight season that OKC has led the league in each of these categories. ... Earlier this season, Russell Westbrook became one of three players all-time to record 15,000 points, 5,000 assists and 4,000 rebounds all before turning 29 years old. ... Oklahoma City is 5-0 when recording more assists than the opponent. 

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F Larry Nance Jr.

    F Cedi Osman 

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G Collin Sexton

    Thunder

    F Jerami Grant

    F Paul George

    C Steven Adams

    G Dennis Schroder

    G Russell Westbrook

    See Cavs stats

    See Thunder stats


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    For Hill, it will be his ninth consecutive missed game, as he continues to recover from a sprained right shoulder. Nwaba will miss his second in a row.

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without both George Hill and David Nwaba when they open a two-game road trip against the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night. 

    For Hill, it will be his ninth consecutive missed game, as he continues to recover from a sprained right shoulder suffered on Nov. 5. Nwaba will miss his second in a row.

    The Cavs believed there was a chance Hill would return against Oklahoma City. He played 4-on-4 and took contact in drills following Tuesday's practice. He was also on the first bus for Wednesday morning shootaround at Chesapeake Energy Arena. But one of the final hurdles for Hill to clear is the toughest: seeing how his shoulder responds after added exertion. It didn't respond well enough for him to suit up. 

    Nwaba is dealing with knee soreness, which forced him to miss Monday's loss against the Timberwolves. 

    While his teammates were hoisting shots early Wednesday morning, getting their usual workouts in, Nwaba was sitting on the side with a sleeve around his right knee, flexing it repeatedly. 

    A starter for a three-game stretch, Nwaba will be replaced by Larry Nance Jr., as the Cavs once again opt for the two-big starting lineup. 


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    Two league-affiliated accounts have really separated themselves from the rest in 2018.

    NBA Twitter exploded over the last few seasons and two league-affiliated accounts have really separated themselves from the rest in 2018. Whether it's talking trash or shooting his shot with celebrities, Joel Embiid knows how to use the platform to his full advantage. The Sacramento Kings might not win a lot on the court, but they are kings of Twitter with witty responses and creative content. Which account is better?

    PERSPECTIVES

    The NBA is one of the most entertaining leagues in the world and a lot of it has to do with players being active on social media. And no one does it better than The Process himself. 

    Joel Embiid asked if Rihanna was single on Twitter and uses his account to talk trash to his opponents whenever he can. This is one of the funniest dudes in the league and he is why NBA Twitter is a joy to follow.

    Running an individual account is fine, but try getting away with the content the Sacramento Kings get away with as an organization. 

    The Kings' Twitter account is not shy about ribbing opponents after loses or throwing massive amounts of shade at other teams when they're underperforming. That kind of trash talk is usually reserved for the players, but the Kings are dominating the Twitter landscape as a team.

    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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    Sure, Clarkson watched as the Cavaliers used the blitz during last season's postseason run -- a tactic designed to force the ball out of the primary scorer's hands.

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- During Monday night's loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jordan Clarkson saw something he hadn't before: A hard blitz from an opponent.

    Sure, Clarkson watched as the Cavaliers used the blitz during last season's postseason run -- a tactic designed to force the ball out of the primary scorer's hands. He had seen those defensive looks, usually reserved for star players, on film over the years. But he never felt it to that level. He was never the target.

    "It's a sign of respect, being able to cause that much attention," Clarkson said. "But in those times, (helping) my teammates make plays, I was drawing a lot of attention, kicking it, passing it.

    "This is my first time I've really seen a hard blitz like that, where they were really trying to get the ball out of my hands. Even when I was pulling back, they were still coming. It's part of the game. I was trying to read it, see it, figure it out."

    In simple terms, the blitz involves two defenders hawking the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll. With the Timberwolves throwing an extra guy at him, usually a big that left the screen-setter, Clarkson finished with a season-low four points on 1-of-5 from the field and 0-of-4 from 3-point range. He also committed as many turnovers (two) as assists.

    Clarkson admitted he would usually be perturbed after getting just five shots. But he feels this new-look Cavs team is built on sacrifice -- a team-first mentality. As long as the guys are playing together and striving to make the right plays, he can live with poor scoring nights.

    The team's leading scorer in Kevin Love's absence, Clarkson will likely continue to get extra attention from opponents so adjusting will be crucial.

    Head coach Larry Drew said the next step for the microwave scorer is learning his reads and not trying to do too much. Drew commended Clarkson during Tuesday morning's film session for his ability to play through the defense's aggressiveness while trying to keep teammates involved.

    "We need him to score the basketball, but we also need him to make plays," Drew said. "Making plays may be just getting off the basketball when you do get a double team because if you are being double-teamed that means somebody else is open. We will adapt, adjust and make sure when teams are defending him like that we will can do things a little differently.

    "I don't want him to lose his aggressiveness, but I want him to continue to make the right plays. He's got the talent, the speed and ability to beat a double team. But we don't want that to be a constant because that turns into forcing a lot of shots."

    In the first meeting against the Thunder, Clarkson started to show flashes of his evolution as a playmaker. It was a night his shot wasn't falling, missing 12 of his 17 attempts.

    Being hounded by Oklahoma City, Clarkson finished with just 11 points -- his second-worst night before Monday's clunker.

    Still, he found other ways to help. He dished out eight assists and grabbed nine rebounds. He attacked the rim relentlessly and forced the defense to collapse. That's the best way to approach those off-shooting nights. Clarkson will have a chance to bounce back Wednesday.

    The NBA is a copycat league. The Timberwolves pestered Clarkson, showed other opponents the best way to contain him. Because of that, the 26-year-old shooting guard who is still getting accustomed to this bigger responsibility, will be better prepared for whatever the Thunder throw his way -- even if it's a blitz.

    "Know my reads off it now," Clarkson said. "I know how to manipulate the rest of the game in terms of what I want to do when teams are blitzing me. It's part of the game. Going to have nights like that where teams do different things. Just got to figure it out."


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    ]Sexton hasn't seen a player like Westbrook yet. The combination of size, strength, speed and athleticism can be overwhelming.

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook didn't play in the first meeting between the Cavaliers and Thunder on Nov. 7. 

    He will be in the lineup Wednesday night. While head coach Larry Drew didn't reveal who would get the first crack at defending Westbrook, wanting to see which player the Thunder start at shooting guard first, rookie Collin Sexton is ready in case it's him.

    "He doesn't take any plays off. He plays hard," Sexton said when asked to give a scouting report on Westbrook. "I have to match that same energy he plays with."

    Easier said than done. Sexton hasn't seen a player like Westbrook yet. The combination of size, strength, speed and athleticism can be overwhelming. Westbrook never stops. As Drew said, Oklahoma City is a "much different animal" with him in the lineup.

    That means the test changes from the first meeting, when Sexton made his first career NBA start against Oklahoma City and matched up against Dennis Schroder. 

    "It's a big difference because the pickup points are different," Sexton said. "Pick him up a lot higher because if he gets a full head of steam it's tough."

    The Cavs haven't been putting too much of the defensive load on Sexton recently. Against Philadelphia, they used him to guard others like Wilson Chandler and fellow rookie Landry Shamet. According to NBA.com matchup stats, Sexton defended Ben Simmons just four times.

    On Saturday night, David Nwaba took the challenge against leading scorer James Harden. But Sexton was the primary defender against Jeff Teague on Monday night and he will likely find himself matched up against Westbrook at times, especially with Nwaba sidelined because of continued knee soreness and George Hill not yet ready to return from a sprained right shoulder. 

    "Just be physical, make sure I show my hands and make sure I don't get in foul trouble early," Sexton said of his defensive strategy.

    The youngster has learned this season not to get caught up in individual showdowns. Even if he has been in awe of some of the point guards he's already played, Sexton certainly wouldn't admit it. He tries to treat each game the same. 

    "I'm trying to win, go out there and get a victory, Sexton said. "That's what it's all about at the end of the day. That's what I do each and every game."

    For the Cavs, that starts with turnovers. The Thunder boast the league's best defensive rating. They are incredibly disruptive, getting into the passing lanes and making opponents uncomfortable on the perimeter. When they force turnovers, they get out and run. In the first game between the two teams, Sexton committed three of the team's 19 miscues. The Thunder finished with 12 fastbreak points.

    He admitted he needs to be smart with the ball and keep things simple. It's all part of Sexton's growth. 

    "He continues to get better," Drew said. "There's going to be some games where he won't be as good from a shooting standpoint. But his effort is there every single night, he plays with a lot of energy. He's continuing to grow and learn. That's the most important thing for him right now coming in as a rookie because it's tough enough to come in at that position as a rookie. He's doing well with it.

    "I like the fact that he's embracing the situation, getting an opportunity to play, making the best of his opportunity to play and he's getting better and better."


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    According to sources, the Cavaliers will be receiving Utah's 2020 second-round selection along with Washington's 2021 second-rounder, which Utah currently owns.

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Cleveland Cavaliers have traded sharpshooter Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz for swingman Alec Burks and a pair of second-round picks, sources told cleveland.com Wednesday night. 

    ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the trade.

    According to sources, the Cavaliers will be receiving Utah's 2020 second-round selection along with Washington's 2021 second-rounder, which Utah currently owns. 

    Burks, a 2011 first-round pick, is in the final year of his deal. His addition gives the Cavs a player they like, one that will strengthen their backcourt. He's also on an expiring contract worth $11.5 million, providing the Cavs another asset for a potential future trade.

    The 27-year-old shooting guard is averaging 8.4 points on 41.2 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from 3-point range in 15.8 minutes this season.

    Burks has battled injuries since his breakout 2013-14 season. The most games he has played since then is 64 in 2017-18.

    Korver learned of the trade at the arena, nearly two hours prior to tipoff against the Thunder. He didn't really have a chance to say goodbye, but players in the locker room were planning on calling or texting him following Wednesday's game against Oklahoma City.

    Cavs head coach Larry Drew couldn't comment on the deal because it hadn't been made official. 

    Korver, 37, was hoping to be moved before the season. But the Cavs entered the year hoping to compete for a playoff spot and wanted him around for the early part of the post-LeBron James era.

    Their season took a wrong turn early, getting off to a miserable, injury-plagued start and Korver, who was always viewed one of the team's most valuable trade assets, was garnering plenty of interest on the trade market with numerous teams on the hunt for shooting.

    For Korver, this deal allows him to go to a place where he and his family are familiar and comfortable while playing on a team that clearly values what he brings.

    A source told cleveland.com that Korver was "very appreciative" of the Cavs for sending him to Utah. The organization wanted to do right by him while also replenishing some future assets. They believe they did that Wednesday night. 


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    The short-handed Cavaliers, with just nine dressed players, played the Thunder even for one half. They couldn't keep up the rest of the way, losing 100-83.

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- Cleveland Cavaliers team leader Tristan Thompson said early Wednesday morning that the next step for the growing Cavaliers is finishing games.

    Like many things, that remains a work in progress.  

    The short-handed Cavaliers, with just nine dressed players, played the Thunder even for one half. Only they couldn't keep up the rest of the way, losing 100-83.

    Too much talent. Too much depth. Too stingy on defense.  

    The night started with Kyle Korver being traded to the Utah Jazz, stripping Cleveland of a key reserve. Korver had scored a season-high 22 points Monday night against the Timberwolves and was starting to be more comfortable in his role. With George Hill already out because of a sprained right shoulder, David Nwaba sidelined with knee soreness and Sam Dekker still hobbled by a sprained ankle, the Cavs ran out of gas in the second half. 

    Jordan Clarkson scored 16 points in the first half. He only mustered nine in the second, with five coming in the closing minutes when the game was already out of reach.

    "They did a good job of taking us out of stuff in that second half," Clarkson said following the game. "We stayed in there, cut it to 10 late and we were still getting our chances to win. We were shorthanded, we gave ourselves a chance to compete and win, but we just didn't finish it off."

    Cedi Osman went scoreless in the second half after pouring 14 in the first. Osman, who spent the majority of his night trying to defend former MVP Russell Westbrook, kept tugging at his shorts as the game went on. He was clearly exhausted. Guarding Westbrook will do that. 

    "We fought really well, but we were tired," Osman said. "That's not an excuse. We were playing really good, but at one point we just stopped. We were looking at each other and didn't know what to do on the court. At that time, we have to keep playing. Our rhythm, when we stop playing with pace, our rhythm gets broken."

    Thompson struggled with bulky Steven Adams inside, finishing with four points on 2-of-8 from the field and a season-low two rebounds. 

    Admittedly, this wasn't the best night to measure Cleveland's closing ability. When Thompson spoke earlier in the day, he was referring to fourth-quarter execution and late-game performance. By that point of the game Wednesday night, the Cavs were staring at a double-digit deficit. 

    The Cavs' task was made tougher before tipoff with Korver's abrupt trade and a lack of healthy bodies. Still, it's the eighth time they have been tied or led at halftime. Cleveland has only claimed four wins in those games. 

    For the second straight meeting against the Thunder, the Cavs simply couldn't match Oklahoma City's level for all 48 minutes. In Cleveland, they lost the game late in the fourth quarter. On Wednesday night, it was the third, being outscored 26-15.

    After scoring 28 points in an explosive first quarter, the Cavs tallied just 55 the rest of the way. A 47-point first half, was followed by 36 in the second.

    It's not how they start, it's how they finish. 

    Collin Sexton's historic night not enough

    Sexton, who finished with 21 points on 9-of-20 from the field and chirped at the Thunder bench a few times in the fourth quarter, also grabbed 10 rebounds -- his first career double-double. 

    Sexton became the first Cavs rookie to record at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since Thompson did it on March 19, 2012. 

    Westbrook rocks the baby

    Thunder star Westbrook likes playing rookies. With 3:41 remaining in the second quarter, Westbrook grabbed a rebound, pushed the ball ahead quickly and soared in for a layup attempt that he missed. But Westbrook snagged the rebound from Sexton and made the putback.

    Then he flexed at the Cavaliers rookie before making a rocking-the-baby motion. 

    That's been Westbrook's celebration of choice, but it was especially fitting on this night, with Westbrook playing Sexton for the first time. Sidelined because of an ankle injury in the initial meeting, Westbrook made sure to point out the teenager wasn't grown enough to deal with his combination of size, strength, speed and athleticism.

    A few possessions later, Sexton took the defensive challenge once again. He crouched down in his stance, with an intense look in his eyes before forcing Westbrook to give the ball up to Jerami Grant, who missed a 3-pointer.

    For the most part, the matchup went to Westbrook who rocked Sexton to sleep once more in the fourth quarter, smiling at the rookie following another nasty move that ended in a pull-up jumper over Sexton. 

    Westbrook recorded his third triple-double of the season, scoring 23 points to go with 19 rebounds and 15 assists. 

    Up next

    The Cavs will wrap up their two-game road trip against the Boston Celtics on Friday night. It will be the first game of a back-to-back, with tipoff set for 7 p.m.


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    Along with a desire to win, the Cavs also wanted to develop their youngsters. Those two goals, of course, were always going to be a delicate balance, especially when factoring in another priority: accumulating assets.

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- It's rare when a trade works out for everyone involved. But that's the case when it comes to the Cleveland Cavaliers' decision to deal Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz for Alec Burks and a pair of future second-round picks.

    The Cavaliers entered this season with a long list of goals. At the top was their desire to win. Whether that was realistic or not, they were truly hoping to overachieve, believing Kevin Love and some of their young core pieces would be able to fight for one of the final playoff spots in the top-heavy Eastern Conference.

    That's why they kept Korver, who wanted to be sent away this summer -- and felt there was an agreement in place if LeBron James left -- in hopes of avoiding this family move during the season.

    The Cavs believed there was importance in having Korver around, when the franchise was attempting to protect its culture and teaching the newbies the Cavaliers way.

    Judging by comments from the locker room Wednesday night, those few months were significant.

    "I respect my boy Kyle," rookie Collin Sexton said. "What doesn't he do right?"

    Tristan Thompson, one of the leaders and holdovers from the previous era, echoed those sentiments.

    "His positive, professional approach," Thompson said. "He's 17 years in and always a pro. I was very fortunate my first year to be under Antawn Jamison and he kept it as a pro too. I think that's what I appreciate from Kyle. More veterans need to start acting like that. I think that's how you pass it down to the young fellas so when they get old they will treat the next rookie right. You need those guys in the locker room.

    "The good vets like Channing (Frye), Kyle, RJ (Richard Jefferson), these guys can teach young guys like Collin and Cedi (Osman) how to be pros. That holds value and I think that's taken for granted."

    Along with a desire to win, the Cavs wanted to develop their youngsters. Those two goals, of course, were always going to come to a head, especially when factoring in another priority: accumulating assets.

    Because the Cavs entered this season with a limited number of assets that most rebuilding teams need -- draft picks, young players on team-friendly deals, expiring contracts and cap space -- they knew there was a possibility of trading Korver. JR Smith and George Hill could be next. 

    The veteran purge began Wednesday night with Korver. And it was quite a haul.

    The only player coming back to Cleveland is Alec Burks. A 27-year-old former first-round pick, Burks brings value on the floor, giving the Cavs an extra ball-handler and scorer off the bench.

    For three straight seasons in Utah, starting with his breakout 2013-14 run, Burks averaged double figures in scoring, his lowest being 13.3 points. In large part because of injuries and fewer opportunities, he's fizzled since and the Jazz were done with him -- similar to the decision they made with Rodney Hood last February.

    This season, in limited action, Burks is averaging 8.4 points and 41.2 percent from the field to go with 37.2 percent from beyond the arc.

    "That's my guy, really close with A.B.," Hood told cleveland.com. "Good player. Sidelined by some injuries throughout his career, but really can score the ball. He's a good that can defend and I think he will get more of an opportunity to show what he can do. I know he's excited. My wife is friends with his fiancee, really good friends of the family and it will be good reuniting with him."

    Hood's right. Burks will get a fresh start with the Cavs, going from a team where playing time was sparse as they chased a playoff spot in the Western Conference to the Cavs, a group that understands the reality of their situation.

    A horrible, injury-plagued start wrecked any initial playoff dreams and Burks will get as much playing time as he can handle while the Cavs get to see him in their system, alongside their nucleus, in this environment. It's an up-close look at a player who could possibly become part of the future. They also have his full "Bird" rights if they wanted to re-sign him as a free agent, able to go over the salary cap to keep him.

    Then again, Burks brings even more value as an expiring contract. Set to make $11.5 million, the Cavs added a compelling trade chip at a time when teams are looking to shed bulky salaries to either get below the luxury tax threshold or start clearing space to chase free agents in the talented 2019 class.

    This positions the Cavs to take on a more lucrative, long-term salary and recoup additional draft picks as sweeteners for taking that bad contract, something they are willing to do.

    Because the Cavs traded for Burks before Dec. 6, they are allowed to swap him immediately or can aggregate his salary with others in about two months -- creating an opportunity for a bigger trade package.

    Along with Burks, the Cavs got two valuable second-round picks -- Utah's pick in 2020 and Washington's in 2021.

    By then, who knows where Washington will be? That's the same year when Bradley Beal -- if he's not traded before then -- hits free agency. A year prior, the team will have to make a decision about Otto Porter Jr. Given their murky salary cap situation in the next few seasons, the Wizards may look at blowing up their roster and starting over, possibly pushing that second into the top half of the round.

    Maybe the Cavs use those picks for themselves. Or perhaps they become trade chips if the right player becomes available. Every asset helps.

    Not to be lost in the mix is Cleveland being off the hook for $3.4 million in partially guaranteed money owed to Korver.

    The terms "shocked" and "thrilled" were both used to cleveland.com when a team source discussed the package they received for the 37-year-old sniper.

    From their standpoint, they received a talented player who is 10 years younger while also getting off some money for next year and receiving two second-round picks that essentially end up replacing the ones that will likely be heading to the Hawks as payment for Korver.

    If the Cavs end up dealing Burks before the deadline, which seems probable, then they will get more for Korver than what they gave up. 

    The front office also did right by Korver, turning what could have been a horrendous misstep into a positive outcome. It didn't go unnoticed.

    "I feel both understand it's best to let him go," Thompson said. "I think it's because he earned that respect from the franchise. When you come in every day and do the right things as a pro, work your butt off and you don't do nothing to jeopardize the organization they are going to look out for you.

    "You don't control who pays you and where you get traded to. That is somebody else. If you piss that guy off they are going to f--- you over. I think (Kyle) did everything the right way where it's only right that they sent him somewhere that's a positive. That's how business works. Treat people how you want to be treated."

    Korver was a hot name on the trade market. Plenty of teams had been eyeing his situation in Cleveland. There were others aside from Utah in the mix.

    According to sources, the Cavs talked with the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer, but the conversations never really advanced. There were rumors about the Cavs taking a look at 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz as a possible reclamation project, but a source said the Cavs didn't feel that was nearly enough in return. His broken jumper and shoulder issue make it tough to gauge his true value. 

    Korver wanted to go to a contender. In conversations with cleveland.com over the last month, he brought up Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. While the Jazz entered the night three games under .500, they were fifth in the West last season and have the talent to turn around a sluggish start.

    Korver wanted to go where he would get playing time, where the team would value his skill set. The Jazz rank 29th in 3-point percentage and 23rd in made triples. His away-from-the-ball movement and floor spacing will fit well in Utah and Korver likes that style.

    More than anything, he wanted a place where his family would be comfortable.

    "He was excited," a source told cleveland.com of Korver's reaction to the deal. "Really appreciative of the how the Cavs handled the trade."

    Korver played three seasons with the Jazz. He met his wife, Juliet, in Utah. If he's going to be forced to uproot his family in the middle of the season, an incredible challenge for any player, it's best he ends up in a city in which he is familiar and can be happy. The Cavs did right by him.

    So now the follow-up question: Who is next?

    "At the end of the day it's a business and anyone can get moved," Thompson said. "If the trade is right and it adds up then someone can get moved unless you have a no-trade clause. So the only two guys that are safe in the NBA are Bron and Steph Curry. Everyone else you can be moved. All you can do is control what you can control. Come in, play hard every day, do your job and don't get in trouble."


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    Tristan Thompson didn't get to say goodbye. Neither did Larry Nance Jr. Head coach Larry Drew couldn't comment at all during his pregame meeting with reporters because the trade hadn't yet been finalized.

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kyle Korver rode the bus from the team hotel Wednesday night and hoisted shots pregame -- his usual routine on the road.

    Then he was grabbed off the court and received the news that he had been traded to the Utah Jazz.

    Tristan Thompson didn't get to say goodbye. Neither did Larry Nance Jr. Head coach Larry Drew couldn't comment at all during his pregame meeting with reporters because the trade hadn't yet been finalized. Channing Frye only got to say a few brief words to Korver because he saw him after the news. It all happened so quick. That's life in the NBA.

    "I think veteran players that have been in this league, they understand the nature of this business and they know that anybody can be traded at any given time," Drew said. "I think it's young guys who've never been through this, I think they're the ones who kinda are looking around. But no, veteran guys have experienced it. Veteran guys have been in situations, they understand the nature of this business, how it works. I don't think I have to massage anything. We're going to try to stay the course as much as we can and just get ready for every game we have to play and not worry about anything else."

    For the holdovers, this is just a minor blip. They've been in much more chaotic situations. Many have even been in Korver's shoes. Nance, Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood all arrived in a midseason trade. Their life, their future changed with one phone call.

    Wednesday was a bit tougher because it happened less than two hours before tipoff and Korver was coming off his best game of the season. He was again going to be a key piece of the team's bench, the floor spacer to give the Cavs a catch-and-shoot outlet in hopes of combating the way Oklahoma City defends pick and rolls.

    "It definitely sucks a lot of energy out of there because you're like, damn, we just traded Kyle," Tristan Thompson said. "Definitely tough. Been there before. Didn't that happen in Atlanta when we traded f------ everybody?"

    The Cavs went on to win that night. But as Thompson said that's a lot different than trying to beat the Thunder on their own home floor with nine available players.

    No Korver. George Hill wasn't ready because of his shoulder injury. David Nwaba was out because of a sprained knee. Sam Dekker is getting closer, but felt some discomfort after playing 4-on-4 Tuesday afternoon. Kevin Love was out of his boot and in the building, but he's probably more than a month away. By the second half, the short-handed Cavs were gassed, losing 100-83. They fought hard and kept battling. Only they didn't have enough.

    While Wednesday's trade was necessary -- a win for Korver and the organization -- it certainly impacted Cleveland's chances of beating Oklahoma City. The emotions of that reality can sometimes be difficult.

    What does it mean when long-term goals are placed in front of short term? How were the Cavs really supposed to hang with a playoff team on a night they played just eight guys? What's it say about the desire to win in that situation? Those are all logical and fair questions.

    Thompson, one of the team leaders, said he didn't feel it necessary to send a message about staying professional and keeping focus with the possibility of more moves on the horizon.

    "At the end of the day it's a business and anyone can get moved," he said. "If the trade is right and it adds up then someone can get moved unless you have a no-trade clause. So the only two guys that are safe in the NBA are Bron and Steph Curry. Everyone else you can be moved. All you can do is control what you can control. Come in, play hard every day, do your job and don't get in trouble."

    Rebuilds aren't easy. It's tough to have the same level of commitment knowing that winning is unlikely. Thompson knows that. He's the only player that lived through a post-LeBron era before this season. Back then, he relied on veterans, specifically Antawn Jamison. As Drew told cleveland.com recently, this current situation in Cleveland isn't for everyone. It takes the right kind of character to come out clean on the other side of this mess.

    "It's extremely tough. It's kind of draining. It takes the focus away from the game as well," Hood admitted. "Kyle is going to a great place. I played there and he played there as well. Just to see that before a game, kind of unexpected, it's kind of mind-boggling. But we went out there and tried to compete as hard as we could."

    That's all the Cavs can do the rest of the way. That's their job as professionals. Just as it's the front office's job to do what's best for the organization. When a great offer is on the table, a general manager has to pounce quickly -- even if that means trading the best 3-point shooter that close to gametime.  

    For rookie Collin Sexton, he's been able to see new things, to learn plenty already. Wednesday night was a first-hand glimpse at the business side. He better get used to it.


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    Check here for the live first-round leaderboard for Hero World Challenge 2018 on Thursday, Nov. 29, in The Bahamas. Tiger Woods is in the field.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas comprise one of the pairings for Hero World Challenge 2018 this week in the Bahamas. Round 1 is today, Thursday, Nov. 29.

    PGA TOUR
    HERO WORLD CHALLENGE
    Site: Nassau, Bahamas.
    Course: Albany GC. Yardage: 7,309. Par: 72.
    Purse: $3.5 million. Winner's share: $1,000,000.
    Television: Thursday-Friday, 1:30-4:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, noon-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30-5 p.m. (NBC Sports); Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Golf Channel), 1-4 p.m. (NBC Sports).
    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler.
    Notes: Tiger Woods, the tournament host, is playing 72 holes of stroke play for the first time since his 80th PGA Tour victory at the Tour Championship. ... Masters champion Patrick Reed is the only major champion in the field. U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka and British Open champion Francesco Molinari are not playing this year. ... Jordan Spieth is skipping the event for the first time because he got married over the weekend. ... Justin Rose makes his primary home at Albany. ... Fowler is among five players in the 18-man field who have not won this year. The others are Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay, Hideki Matsuyama and Henrik Stenson. ... The lowest-ranked player in the field is Gary Woodland at No. 32. ... Webb Simpson and Tommy Fleetwood withdrew. They were replaced by Cantlay and Keegan Bradley. ... Ernie Els designed Albany Golf Club. ... Bubba Watson shot 25-under 263 when he won in the inaugural year at Albany in 2015. ... Justin Thomas is using former Alabama teammate Cory Whitsett as his caddie this week.
    Online: www.pgatour.com

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    There were many champions of 2018, but two teams, in particular, stood out. Watch video

    There were many champions of 2018, but two teams, in particular, stood out. The Golden State Warriors led the NBA in scoring and swept the 2018 NBA Finals in grand fashion. The Boston Red Sox finished the regular season with an MLB-high 108 wins and won the World Series in five games. Which team was the most dominant?

    PERSPECTIVES

    For the second straight year, the Golden State Warriors proved that star-power is the only power you need in the modern NBA. 

    The Bay Area squad rolled to nearly 60 wins during the regular season, and only had one test against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference before sweeping LeBron James in the Finals. Armed to the teeth with four All-Stars, the Warriors were the most dominant sports team in 2018.

    The Red Sox made the World Series a formality basically when they began the playoffs. Boston already won 108 games during the regular season, sporting one of the best offenses in the entire league. By the time the Red Sox finished the postseason, they only lost three times against the best competition in MLB and won the World Series in convincing fashion. 

    This might have been one of the best teams in the league's history! The Red Sox were definitely the best team of 2018.

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    A team source used the terms "shocked" and "thrilled" when recapping the trade package with cleveland.com on Wednesday night.

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- Shortly after 12 p.m. Eastern Time, the Cleveland Cavaliers completed their call with the league, making the Kyle Korver trade official. 

    The Cavs received swingman Alec Burks and two future second-round picks. The Cavs will get Utah's 2020 second-rounder and Washington's second in 2021 that Utah owned. 

    "Kyle's on-court accomplishments are well known," said general manager Koby Altman. "More importantly, though, Kyle is a great person and teammate. He sets an example in everything he does. His work ethic, character and dependability are all at a very special level and something we will always respect and be thankful for. We wish Kyle and his family the best as he continues his career back in Salt Lake City." 

    A team source used the terms "shocked" and "thrilled" when recapping the trade package with cleveland.com on Wednesday night. A source close to Korver said he was "appreciative" of the Cavs for sending him to Utah -- a place where his family is familiar and comfortable. 

    Korver spent three seasons with the Jazz earlier in his career and thrives in a movement-based, team-oriented system like Utah's. He also wanted to play for a contender and the Jazz, despite a bumpy start, were the fifth seed last season and have playoff aspirations once again. 

    The 37-year-old sharpshooter appeared in 124 games, including five starts, for Cleveland after being acquired by the Cavaliers on Jan. 7, 2017. He averaged 9.3 points on 46.8 percent shooting, including a 45.4 percent mark on 3-pointers.

    He leaves Cleveland ranked second all-time in 3-point percentage and connected on the fifth-most triples in Cavs playoff history (72).

    Burks, 27, has appeared in 17 games for Utah this season, averaging 8.4 points in 15.8 minutes. Playing in his ninth season after being the 12th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Burks holds career averages of 9.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 20.8 minutes over 382 career contests, including 43 starts. 

    "Alec is a young vet that's versatile and talented," Altman said. "We welcome him to Cleveland and we're looking forward to him getting started with us soon."


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