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

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-16) will conclude their two-game road trip against the Boston Celtics (11-10) on Friday night.

    BOSTON -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-16) will conclude their two-game road trip against the Boston Celtics (11-10) on Friday night. 

    When: 7 p.m.

    Where: TD Garden

    TV: FoxSports Ohio 

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

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: This is the first matchup between the two teams since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals -- a contest won by Cleveland 87-79. 

    Cavs minute: This will be the first of four regular season games against the Celtics (Jan. 23 at BOS, Feb. 5 at CLE, Mar. 26 at BOS). ... During Wednesday's loss against the Thunder, the Cavs had three players grab double-digit rebounds. It was the first time that happened in a game since March 25, 2018 at Brooklyn. ... Collin Sexton recorded his first career double-double on Wednesday night, becoming the first rookie to post at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since Tristan Thompson on March 19, 2012. ... Sexton has scored in double figures in each of his 10 starts, including five 20-point efforts. He is averaging 18.9 points and shooting 47.8 percent from beyond the arc in 34.4 minutes while filling in for injured George Hill. ... Jordan Clarkson tallied a season-high 25 points in 32 minutes off the bench at Oklahoma City. He has scored in double figures in 18-of-20 games this season, including four 20-point outings. He ranks 4th among NBA bench players in scoring, averaging 16.0 points. Cedi Osman recorded his third career double-double on Wednesday, finishing with 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. 

    Celtics minute: This is the first game of a back-to-back for the Celtics. ... They have won three straight games in the first leg of a back-to-back. ... Former Cavalier Kyrie Irving topped 10,000 points and 2,500 assists earlier this season. ... Boston is 0-3 this season when being held below 100 points. ... Boston ranks fourth this season in points allowed, giving up 104.3 per game. ... The Celtics have six players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Irving who is averaging 22.0 per night. ... The Celtics are the league's second-best team at defending 3-pointers, holding opponents to just 32.1 percent from beyond the arc. 

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F Cedi Osman

    F Larry Nance Jr.

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G Collin Sexton

    Celtics

    F Marcus Morris

    F Jayson Tatum

    C Aron Baynes

    G Marcus Smart

    G Kyrie Irving


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    Burks has been trying to get up to speed quickly and is set to make his Cleveland Cavaliers debut Friday night against the Boston Celtics.

    BOSTON -- Alec Burks took the first bus to the TD Garden on Friday morning, running through dummy sets with a few of his new coaches and teammates.

    After a whirlwind few days, finding out he had been traded shortly before the news broke on Twitter around 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, Burks has been trying to get up to speed quickly and is set to make his Cleveland Cavaliers debut Friday night against the Boston Celtics.

    "Opportunity is everything in this league," Burks said. "I feel like I have a great one here. Just trying to take advantage of it and help my new team win."

    Head coach Larry Drew said he wasn't sure how many minutes Burks would receive against Boston. The plan is to gradually implement him into the team's rotation, give him an early feel, let him learn new teammates and then go from there.

    It helps that Burks already knows a few of the guys. He was in the same draft class as Tristan Thompson -- the two of them sharing a brief embrace and exchanging a few pleasantries before shootaround officially began. Burks is very close with Rodney Hood -- the buddies spending three and a half years together in Utah. George Hill, another ex-teammate, was one of the players helping Burks learn plays early Friday morning. There's even a connection with Drew, who has known Burks since he was a "pup" in Missouri.

    Burks' father, Steve, is from Kansas City, Missouri. He played against Drew who is from Kansas City, Kansas. The two go way back and Burks' dad already sent a text to Drew, expressing his excitement that his son is now in Cleveland. The feeling is mutual.

    "We're really excited about having him. He fits in with what we are trying to do," Drew said with a smile. "Always been kind of a fan from afar. Me and his dad played against each other and Alec was a little pup then. He really fits an NBA profile. Size at the position he plays, his athleticism and as far as our club is concerned, another young piece that is energetic, athletic and that can play multiple positions."

    Burks said it's probably going to take him a few games to get acclimated. He doesn't want to rush the process and become overwhelmed. For him, the toughest part has been getting his family to Cleveland. Drafted 12th overall by the Utah Jazz in 2011, Salt Lake City was all he -- and his family -- ever knew. Coming to a fresh environment mere months into the season is certainly exciting, but it isn't easy.

    "We crammed him on a lot of stuff on Day One and hopefully he can retain that information," Drew said. "I've been in that situation before and you just hope they can pick it up as fast as they can. What I try to do is knowing when they come into the situation, the first thing they do is they try to think about everything as far as what to do. What I've told him is to just play. Be yourself and let the other things happen naturally. Alec is a smart player and we will just see how things go tonight."

    Beyond that, Burks' future is murky.

    While the Cavs rave about the kind of person he is and are intrigued about what he brings on the court, giving them another needed ball-handler and scorer off the bench, the business side could end his Cleveland tenure quickly.

    Burks is in the final year of his deal. That $11.5 million expiring contract could become an incredibly useful trade chip, especially since the Cavs can aggregate his salary with another player starting on Jan. 29 -- a little more than a week ahead of the NBA trade deadline.

    The next month will be telling. The Cavs are getting a close look at him, a chance to determine whether he truly has a chance to be a part of this team's future. That starts tonight against the Celtics. 

    In the meantime, Burks -- who hasn't averaged double figures in scoring since the 2015-16 season -- gets a fresh canvas. A chance to revive his career and put the last few injury-plagued seasons behind him on a team that will give him every opportunity to flourish. 

    "Basketball is going to be basketball, regardless of where it's at," Burks said. "I'm still young even though I've been in the league a long time. Bounced back from a lot of adversity so I'm just ready to play with the new guys."


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    TMZ released video of Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt hitting a woman inside a hotel in Ohio. Watch video

    TMZ released video of Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt hitting a woman inside a hotel in Ohio. The incident took place in February of this year and he was not suspended when the team acknowledged the incident in August. According to Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio, both the Chiefs and NFL knew about the video. Many people feel Hunt should be banned from playing football for life. Others think a suspension is adequate, after due process takes place. What do you think? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    Hunt was involved in a physical altercation with a 19-year-old woman in Cleveland. She allegedly used a racial epithet, which caused Hunt to kick her out of the room they were occupying. He then proceeded to push a man into her, knocking her over and then kicked her while she was down.

    Should he be banned from the league?

    This is just another black eye for a league that continues to prioritize the on-field product over morals. The NFL should send a message and ban Hunt for life.

    Does NFL have another Ray Rice? Chiefs' Kareem Hunt attacks woman in disturbing video

    Everyone is so quick to punish Hunt before this case has been fully investigated. Everyone should have a chance to learn from their mistakes. A lifetime ban is not necessary. People deserve second chances.

    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 individual showdown was a lot like the end result: unexpectedly lopsided.

    BOSTON -- The first-ever matchup between Collin Sexton and one-time Cavalier Kyrie Irving provided the backdrop for Friday night's game inside the TD Garden.

    The individual showdown was a lot like the end result: unexpectedly lopsided.

    Behind Irving's dominant performance, the struggling Celtics, who entered the night having won just two of their previous six games, cruised to a 128-95 win against the short-handed Cavaliers. It was Cleveland's worst loss of the season.

    With a look of determination, Irving went right at Sexton from the start, canning a jumper over him for the first points of the game. He never relented.

    Irving attacked Sexton -- and every other Cavalier -- off the dribble, poured in long-range jumpers like layups and dazzled the sellout crowd that was greeted with Irving posters taped to their seats. Yes, it was his night.

    "I told you guys from Day One, everyone knows that Kyrie can go like two quarters with seven points and then he can 15 in five minutes. I've seen it before. I'm not surprised," Tristan Thompson said. "Obviously he's going to play with a chip on his shoulder, especially going against Collin. That's just part of the NBA. Collin knows this already, guys are going to attack him every night and it's a point-guard-heavy league. Guys are going to go at you and he's going to go right back at them too. I wasn't surprised that Kyrie came out aggressive tonight."

    Irving set the tone with 13 points in the first quarter. He hit his first four shots, finishing with 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting. His teammates fed off him. 

    In all, the Celtics had seven players reach double figures, including all five starters. 

    To his credit, Sexton never backed down, crouching in his defensive stance, often bodying Irving away from the ball and fighting through picks to stay on his hip. But his determination wasn't nearly enough on this night. He couldn't slow down Irving. Only Celtics head coach Brad Stevens could, pulling Irving after 27 minutes. 

    On the other end, Sexton -- seven years younger than Irving and lacking the same experience Irving has been able to gain -- shook off a chilly start to finish in double figures once again. That makes every game reaching that mark as a starter.

    Only nothing came easy. Sexton's jumpers were contested. Drives to the basket were met with resistance, with multiple bodies near the rim. His passes were pestered by the long-limbed Boston defenders.

    Sexton finished with 15 points on 6-of-18 from the field to go with four rebounds and four assists.

    "I think tonight was just one of those situations where playing against a guy like Kyrie, you know he's going to come out and play at a high level," Cavs head coach Larry Drew said. "I thought early it kind of let it discourage him a little bit. You just can't do that. Kyrie is an All-Star. He's played at a high level for a number of years. Collin, these kinds of games, he just has to learn to stay focused and stay the course as far as what he needs to do individually and what he needs to do for our team."

    While there are plenty of differences between the two players -- age, status in the league, draft slot, skills and a few others -- the comparisons are unavoidable. The two will always be connected.

    In the summer of 2017, when Irving made it known that he wanted out of Cleveland, the Cavs traded him to Boston for a package centered on the "Brooklyn pick." That pick, the shiny diamond among three other pieces, eventually turned into the eighth-overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, which then became Sexton -- a franchise building block and the first symbol of this new era.

    Sexton is wearing Irving's old number. He plays in Irving's signature shoes. He's a first-round point guard brought to Cleveland following LeBron James' departure. 

    There are other guys remaining from that deal. Technically, Rodney Hood became part of it, as he was brought to Cleveland in exchange for Jae Crowder. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. may not be with the franchise if not for Isaiah Thomas' inclusion in a midseason swap with the Lakers. Ante Zizic, a developmental throw-in from Boston, played 20 minutes Friday night.

    But Sexton's the main face of that August blockbuster that forever changed the Cavaliers. While he needs time to polish his game, the talent is there. Sexton has shown it, especially since he took over the lead guard role from injured George Hill on Nov. 7.

    Friday night was a reminder of what Cleveland once had with Irving, an All-Star who led the first rebuild, and what it hopes can be possible once again.

    The long-term goal is eventually to get where the Celtics are, with playoff dreams and championship aspirations. Sexton's growth will determine how real that goal eventually becomes.

    Irving showed him what that level looks like -- and how high that climb will be.

    Boston enemy

    Thompson made comments ahead of the season about the East going through Cleveland -- even after James left for Los Angeles. Fans haven't forgotten.

    Thompson received the loudest boos of any player during pregame introductions and received that villain treatment throughout the game.

    It didn't seem to bother Thompson, as he scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 28 minutes.

    Alec Burks provides spark in debut

    The newest Cavalier, acquired in a trade with Utah for Kyle Korver on Wednesday night, made his debut at the 3:59 mark of the first quarter. A rough start got much better.

    After an airball from 3-point range, Burks scored his first bucket at the 11:40 mark of the second quarter, a driving layup in transition. His and-1 gave Cleveland its first lead of the night, 37-36, early in the second quarter.

    In all, Burks finished with 15 points on 4-of-11 from the field. For perspective, Korver only reached that scoring total twice in 16 games.

    Up next

    The Cavs will host the East-leading Toronto Raptors on Saturday night, the second game of a back-to-back. 


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    That's what happened to Sexton. Playing against a seven-year vet, five-time All-Star, NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist, Sexton was no match.

    BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving knows exactly what Collin Sexton is going through. Irving was a rookie once, looked at as a beacon of hope for a shattered Cavaliers franchise, all while trying to find his way against older, more polished and ruthless point guards in the NBA.

    What Irving did to Sexton Friday night in Boston happened to him plenty of times. Irving still remembers his first ever game, although some details are a touch foggy.

    Playing against Toronto's Jose Calderon, Irving scored just six points on 2-of-12 from the field and 1-of-5 from 3-point range to go with seven assists (Irving said Friday night he had six assists that night). Calderon had 15 points and 11 assists (Irving thought it was 22 and 12).

    Still, the point is clear: Irving got his butt kicked plenty in his rookie season.

    "Took me everywhere he wanted on the court, used me on screens and I was just a nervous wreck out there," Irving said when recalling those early struggles when asked about it after Friday's game. "Obviously that was my first game of my NBA career, but I had a few veterans just come at me and just school me."

    That's what happened to Sexton. Playing against a seven-year vet, five-time All-Star, NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist, Sexton was no match. That's going to happen plenty. It's called being a rookie. Irving is a polished 26-year-old who has evolved into one of the league's assassins. Sexton is a 19 year-old who is still learning, still maturing. On Friday, that inexperience showed, leading to one of his worst games in weeks.

    Sexton came out aggressive. He accepted the challenge against Irving -- guarding him throughout the night, including the opening possession -- and tried take advantage of Irving's sometimes-shaky defense. But that approach led to four straight misses and eight of his first 10.

    It might not have been the best approach for Sexton or the Cavaliers -- even if Irving admired that won't-back-down mentality from Cleveland's rook.

    "I mean, coming out in the first quarter, shooting as many shots as he did and trying to prove a point against me, I loved it," Irving said. "Obviously some very makeable shots that could've gone in easily, and I think he probably would've been in a different rhythm. Just tried to make him uncomfortable as much as possible out there. But he's a really good player.

    "I've been a fan of his since he was in high school. I watch all these young guys that come into the league, drafted high. Obviously I've been doing a little studying as well and just waiting for that moment to play against a young guy like that. He's very talented."

    That's certainly high praise coming from Irving. It's even more telling that Irving was able to see promise through a 6-of-18 shooting night. A game in which Sexton finished with as many fouls (four) as assists. 

    Cavs head coach Larry Drew said after the game he was hopeful Sexton would learn not to make matchups against other All-Star point guards personal. Drew likes sexton's fearlessness. He needs that to survive. But finding a better balance is the next step for him.

    Drew, who admitted he was going to talk to Sexton about that, felt those early struggles discouraged the teenager.

    "You just can't do that. Kyrie is an All-Star. He's played at a high level for a number of years," Drew said. "Collin, these kinds of games he just has to learn to stay focused and stay the course as far as what he needs to do individually and what he needs to do for our team.

    Irving's old teammate Tristan Thompson saw that look in Irving's eye. He could sense this kind of performance coming. 

    "Obviously he's going to play with a chip on his shoulder, especially going against Collin," Thompson said. "That's just part of the NBA. Collin knows this already, guys are going to attack him every night and it's a point-guard-heavy league. Guys are going to go at you and he's going to go right back at them too. I wasn't surprised that Kyrie came out aggressive tonight."

    Irving has always been able to pull motivation. He admitted playing against his old team, a matchup against Sexton, had his full attention.

    "I think every night you should be motivated, but going against another great, young point guard that's going to be in our league for a while, head of the franchise now, as well as Tristan and Kevin Love, he's just going to continue to grow and get better."

    Sexton is in a tough spot, one that's unfair to anyone. Because he was the centerpiece of the Irving trade, plays the same position that Irving occupied for six full years in Cleveland and wears the same number, he's going to draw those comparisons.

    Irving said he was appreciative of the younger guys, including Sexton, being compared to him. But Irving is also hoping Sexton and the other up-and-coming point guards are able to build their own identity.

    The best approach is not trying to fill Irving's shoes, but learning from him and seeing if there are pieces of Irving's game that Sexton can incorporate.

    That's what Irving did early on. He watched Kobe Bryant videos. He studied some of the great point guards and tirelessly worked to hone his craft, trying to make sure nights like Sexton had on Friday were an aberration.

    "Every single year you see the great players in our league consistently get better and they prove to us how great they are," Irving said. "It's based on how consistent they are, so I think he figures that out -- every single night you're going to be demanded to, if you're going to be a 20-point scorer one night on a Wednesday, then you're going to be asked to do it on a Friday as well. It's a challenge that I think he's more than willing to take and he's up for it. He's talented enough to do it."


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    That's why, even on a night when Sexton matched up against Irving for the first time and drummed up memories, both good and bad, Thompson believes perspective is needed.

    BOSTON -- Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson has had enough of the inevitable Collin Sexton-Kyrie Irving comparisons.

    "That's too much pressure," Thompson told cleveland.com following the Cavaliers 128-95 loss Friday night in Boston. "That's like Golden State drafting some guard and expecting him to be Steph (Curry). That's like drafting Zion Williamson and expect him to be LeBron James. Come on man. Let LeBron be LeBron. Let Kyrie be Kyrie. Let Collin be Collin. You know what I'm saying? It's a disservice to the kid."

    Thompson certainly has a point. It is a little much to expect Sexton to become a five-time All-Star in his first seven years.

    Isn't it taking away from the greatness of Irving to think that Sexton or any other young point guard should -- or can -- become the next version of him? As long as Sexton proves to be a Cavaliers franchise pillar in this new era, isn't that enough? It was probably also wishful thinking to expect Friday's game to turn out any other way than with Irving getting the best of Sexton and the Cavs. 

    Sexton was the eighth-overall pick, not the first like Irving. It's not like the Cavaliers willingly passed on Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Deandre Ayton or some of the other first-rounders that have shined a bit brighter than Sexton thus far.

    Given that, there shouldn't be as much pressure, right? With Irving going No. 1, he arrived in Cleveland with lofty expectations, needing to prove he was the right pick despite playing just 11 games in college. There was a helpful one-year buffer between his arrival and James' departure.

    That same year, Thompson was Cleveland's fourth-overall pick. He grew alongside Irving and watched him blossom into one of the league's premier point guards. But it took time and there were plenty of growing pains along the way.

    Irving is now a polished, unguardable offensive force. He's seven years into his NBA career, a champion who has proven himself on the league's biggest stage.

    Sexton is 19. He's played 22 games. Him being schooled by Irving on Friday night wasn't a surprise. They're at much different stages of their careers. 

    That's why, even on a night when Sexton matched up against Irving for the first time and drummed up memories, both good and bad, Thompson believes perspective is needed.

    "Kyrie, he did great things in Cleveland, close that chapter and let Collin write his own book," Thompson said to cleveland.com. "You keep trying to compare it's not fair to the kid. If he lives in someone else's shadow it's not fair. He didn't ask for where to get picked. They picked him. It's unfair to him. Like chasing a ghost. That can hurt someone's development. Let him be the best Collin Sexton he can be."

    To Sexton's credit, that's been his approach. He seems wired the right way and has pushed back against those lofty Irving comparisons since he was drafted. Despite Sexton choosing Irving's old No. 2, for reasons that had nothing to do with the team's previous point guard, he said early in training camp that he was not trying to follow in "nobody's footsteps."

    By NBA standards, Sexton still has plenty he doesn't know. That's natural. There's no way he was going to have things figured out this early into his career. Irving didn't

    The team-wide struggles aren't helping, putting Sexton under the microscope. Same goes for him being the centerpiece of the Irving trade.

    That's actually the crux of the comps. Instead of asking for a different piece in the Boston trade, the Cavs demanded the unknown of the "Brooklyn pick" that became Sexton. If Sexton -- and to a lesser extent Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Ante Zizic and Rodney Hood -- is all the Cavs have to show for a deal involving the franchise's second-best player, is that enough? 

    In a way, Sexton is the guy who is in Cleveland because Irving isn't. 

    That daily reminder can be tough to shake, especially when four years of going to the Finals has quickly turned into a miserable first month.

    But perhaps Thompson is right. Maybe the focus should be about Sexton's growth already in such a short time. After all, he's gone from being in his teammates' crosshairs to a player who has earned the full-time starting gig when George Hill comes back from injury. 

    He's fourth among rookies in scoring. Another sign of promise. He's got 17 double-digit scoring games in the first 22. 

    So what if he got dominated by Irving, who scored 29 points on 11-of-15 from the field while Sexton had 15 on 6-of-18 shooting?

    Even on this night, there was another positive Thompson noticed: The look in Irving's eye. 

    "Play good basketball and you are going to get guys' best games," Thompson said. "That's what you want though. That means they fear if they don't come out and play hard that you'll get the better of them. That's nothing but respect. It's when they don't care and take a night off on you, that's when you're not good enough."

    Irving certainly didn't take the night off. Quite the opposite. He gave Sexton the full treatment. That's a pretty important chapter in Sexton's book.


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    The Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Toronto Raptors on the second night of a back-to-back Saturday.

    BOSTON -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-17) will host the Toronto Raptors (19-4) on the second night of a back-to-back Saturday. 

    When: 8 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: This Cavs lost to the Raptors 116-104 on Opening Night. 

    Cavs minute: This will be the second of four matchups against the East-leading Raptors. ... Rookie Collin Sexton has tallied double figures in scoring in each of his 11 starts this season. ... He was averaging just 10.5 points on 40.7 percent from the field in 10 games off the bench. ... Tristan Thompson recorded his 11th double-double of the season against the Celtics Friday night. ... Jordan Clarkson scored 16 points on 5-of-14 from the field in the lopsided loss in Boston. Clarkson has tallied double figures in 19 of 21 games. ... The Cavs suffered their worst loss of the season Friday night, losing to the Celtics by 33 points. ... After a season-long two-game winning streak recently, the Cavs have dropped three in a row. ... The Cavs ended the Raptors' season at The Q in last year's conference semifinals. 

    Raptors minute: The Raptors, boasting the NBA's best record, have won seven straight games. The last time the Raptors won seven consecutive was Feb. 27-Mar. 16 when the team recorded a franchise-best 11 straight victories. ... Toronto has dropped 11 of the last 12 regular-season and playoff games at The Q since 2014. ... A win Saturday against the Cavs would mark the fastest the Raptors have ever reached the 20-win mark (24 games). ... Pascal Siakam scored a career-high 26 points Thursday night vs. Golden State. It marks the seventh time this season he has contributed 20-plus points, something he did only once in his first two NBA seasons. ... Kawhi Leonard tallied a season-best 37 points against Golden State. It was his fifth 30-point game this season. ... Danny Green, who arrived in a trade with Leonard this off-season, ranks first in the NBA in plus-minus rating (+263). He has finished with a plus rating 17 times. ... Kyle Lowry ranks first in the NBA in assists per game (10.3). He has dished out 10 or more assists in 13 games. 

    Probable starters

    Cavs

    F Cedi Osman

    F Larry Nance Jr.

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G Collin Sexton

    Raptors

    F Kawhi Leonard

    F Pascal Siakam

    C Serge Ibaka

    G Danny Green

    G Kyle Lowry


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    Hill, who missed the previous 11 games with a sprained right shoulder, will be on a minutes restriction, expected to play around 20 minutes.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- George Hill will make his return to the lineup on Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors. 

    Hill, who missed the previous 11 games with a sprained right shoulder, will be on a minutes restriction, expected to play around 20 minutes. 

    "We don't want to try to burn him out his first game back and we don't want the shoulder to get fatigued or start bothering him again, so we'll really keep a close, close eye on him," head coach Larry Drew said.

    Drew also said he may put Hill back in the starting lineup, pairing him alongside rookie Collin Sexton. But that decision hasn't been made yet.

    Whether Hill starts or not, Sexton will remain in the starting group where he has flourished since taking over for the injured Hill on Nov. 7. 

    "It gives us another ball-handler on the floor, another guy who can make plays," Drew said. "It gives us speed, it gives us quickness. I like Collin's ability to play off the ball, too. I don't want him to be just a one-dimensional player where everything is happening with the ball in his hands. I think he can be a terrific player off the ball and teams can't lock into him as easy as he is on the ball. There's some pros and cons to playing them both together, but I do think the pros outweigh the cons."


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    Fred VanVleet will get the start for Lowry, who will be missing his first game of the season.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- While the Cleveland Cavaliers will get George Hill back in their lineup, the Toronto Raptors will be short a point guard, as Kyle Lowry has been ruled out because of a sore back that popped up earlier Saturday. 

    Raptors head coach Nick Nurse made the announcement during his pregame meeting with reporters. 

    Fred VanVleet will get the start for Lowry, who will miss his first game of the season. 

    Lowry, the league leader in assists, scored 27 points and dished out eight helpers during the 116-104 Opening Night win against the Cavs in Toronto. 


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    Glenville grad Jimond Ivey led Akron past Detroit Mercy for the Zips' sixth victory.

    AKRON, Ohio -- Akron senior Jimond Ivey snapped the Zips out of their 30-minute doldrums to spark a 71-59 victory over Detroit Mercy Saturday night in Rhodes Arena.

    When the going is tough and it's a struggle to get things done, veteran experience and leadership often is the difference. Ivey, a 6-5 senior from Glenville, turned a struggle into a breather with his work down the stretch inside the final eight minutes.

    He led Akron with 25 points, 21 in the second half, to go with 13 rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot.

    "In my head, I knew I had to do something to take charge,'' Ivey said.

    That offset 27 points from Detroit freshman Antoine Davis, the second leading scorer in the nation (30 points per game).

    Before that, it was a blindingly bad performance for both teams at both ends of the court.

    "We missed a lot of shots, and turned the ball over (13) . . . at an alarming rate,'' Ivey said.

    The Zips (6-2) had trouble solving Detroit's zone defense. Despite a lack of size, the Titans (3-5) were quick enough to make their zone a test against Akron.

    It was a good early measuring stick for Akron because Detroit's non-conference schedule is laced with seven teams from the Mid-American Conference. The Titans entered the game 2-2 so far against the MAC.

    Both teams focused on 3-pointers, most of them misses, trying to get their offenses going. The 25-25 halftime tie was a result of 34.5-percent shooting by Akron overall and 35.7-percnt (5-of-14) on 3-pointers.

    Just as there was little separating the teams shooting the ball, the 20-20 match on the glass, with both teams scoring eight points in the paint, pointed to a hot hand in the second half potentially being the difference.

    It proved to be Ivey, and the Zips shot 52 percent the second half.

    Still, the score remained a two-possession game or less until Ivey took charge, first getting a hoop inside, followed by a 3-pointer, then a rebound and stickback that pushed the lead to 53-42 with just under six minutes to play.

    Akron never was challenged again.


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    Cleveland trimmed a one-time 21-point Raptors lead to seven with less than four minutes remaining with a mashed-together lineup.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The odds of the Cleveland Cavaliers beating the Toronto Raptors are really low -- even on a night All-Star Kyle Lowry sat out because of an achy back. 

    Sometimes it's up to the head coach to try to increase that chance. That's what Larry Drew attempted to do in Saturday's 106-95 loss.

    Given the Cavs' situation -- an overall lack of talent, depth and far too many injuries -- the expectations need to be lowered, especially against the team with the league's best record. For the rebuilding Cavs, staying competitive against retooled Toronto is about the best outcome.

    But Drew wanted more. Forget the moral victory this time. 

    Cleveland trimmed a one-time 21-point Raptors lead to seven with less than four minutes remaining with a mashed-together lineup that found success and he wanted to give that group a chance to finish. 

    So Drew tossed player development to the side for one night and rode that group the rest of the way. It wasn't enough. But it was telling. 

    That decision meant putting prized rookie Collin Sexton on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. In the first three quarters, Sexton had scored 10 points on 5-of-12 from the field. But Sexton also committed three turnovers, as Toronto's length and athleticism kept bothering him -- just the same as Boston one night earlier.

    It meant giving extended playing time to newbie Alec Burks, who scored 13 points in the second half.

    Even playing Tristan Thompson 40 minutes, as Drew couldn't afford to take him off the floor. Thompson scored 18 points to go with 19 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. With Thompson on the floor, the Cavs outscored the Raptors by a two, one of two players on the right side of the point differential Saturday night. 

    For much of the fourth quarter, Drew went with Jordan Clarkson, Burks, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman and Thompson.

    "With (Burks) in the game he gives us another ball handler," Drew said. "He gives us speed in the open court. He gives some size. We're able to do some things with him out on the floor, particularly when he's out there with Cedi and Rodney, which I really like that combination. He plays a lot with JC. It's really starting to look like they're learning to play off of one another, which I was hoping would happen.

    "Alec, he's a willing passer. There's calls for having the ball in his hands, if he looks to break the defense down, he's a good passer. He makes the right play and that really helps JC out a lot. Helps all of our guys out a lot that we can put the ball in their hands and we can make a play."

    The last time the Raptors visited Quicken Loans Arena, they were heading back across the border staring at an uncertain future. That loss, which led to a sweep in the conference semifinals, forced the Raptors to reassess their future, ultimately opting for a head coaching change and a franchise-altering trade for Kawhi Leonard. 

    Following this most recent defeat, it was Cleveland's turn to ponder what's next. 

    Four straight losses have wiped away those good vibes felt just one week ago after a pair of impressive wins against the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets. Drew has more lineup calls to make while trying to implement one new player (Burks) and guys who will be coming back from injury soon. He will have to walk the line of trying to win and develop the youngsters. The front office has to figure out the best approach when it comes to trades. 

    Those are all questions facing the Cavs as the calendar has flipped to December. In the meantime, Cleveland needs to find short-term answers to boost its fading offense. 

    On Saturday night, the Cavs failed to reach the 100-point mark for the fourth consecutive game. 

    "You're going to have your ups and downs and you're going to have times where you play well and you're going to have times where you play bad," George Hill said. "We're a young team, we're still learning and it's not like we're going to wake up tomorrow and be a great, great team. That's something that we have to build to, so we're going through those moments right now but if we have to continue to try and learn from it."

    Against Toronto, Cleveland didn't hit its first 3-pointer until early in the third quarter. The Cavs went just 5-of-22 from beyond the arc, as they remain a two-point team in an era dominated by 3s.

    Against the switch-heavy Raptors, the Cavs got trapped in isolation frequently. It led to a 38.6 percent shooting night. They had just 14 assists on 34 made shots. The team ball at the center of a promising three-game stretch has vanished.

    Meanwhile, the player added to shape Toronto's future did his job. Leonard tallied a game-high 34 points and rebuffed Cleveland's late run. 

    That's why the Raptors will likely be playing into late May and the best the Cavs can typically hope for against this caliber of opponent is to fight until the buzzer. 

    George Hill quiet in return

    Hill returned from a sprained shoulder after missing the previous 11 games. On a minutes restriction, Hill played just 19 minutes, getting the start alongside rookie Collin Sexton. 

    Hill scored eight points on 3-of-5 from the field. 

    Up next 

    The Cavs will travel to Brooklyn for a matchup against the struggling Nets who have lost six straight games. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. on Monday night. 


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    Check here for the live final-round leaderboard for Hero World Challenge 2018 on Sunday, Dec. 2, in the Bahamas.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tony Finau, Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson were tied for the lead entering the final round of Hero World Challenge 2018 on Sunday, Dec. 2, in the Bahamas. Tiger Woods is in the field.

    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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    With those spots available, the Cavs have signed Jaron Blossomgame and Jalen Jones to Two-Way contracts.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers have waived Billy Preston and Andrew Harrison -- a pair of players on Two-Way contracts, league sources told cleveland.com. 

    With those spots available, the Cavs have signed Jaron Blossomgame and Jalen Jones to Two-Way contracts. 

    Blossomgame, a 25-year-old forward, was a 2017 second-round pick by the San Antonio Spurs. He was recently acquired by the Canton Charge in exchange for John Holland.

    In 11 games (eight starts) in the NBA G League this season with the Austin Spurs and the Charge, Blossomgame is averaging 20.7 points on 53.7 percent shooting to go with 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 32.6 minutes. 

    In five G League games with Canton, Blossomgame is averaging 17.2 points on 49.2 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from 3-point range. 

    Jones, 25, was a member of the 2017 D-League All-Star Team. After being waived by the New Orleans Pelicans last January, Jones spent the rest of the 2017-18 season with the Dallas Mavericks on a Two-Way deal, appearing in 12 NBA games while averaging 5.8 points on 13.5 minutes. 

    Given his NBA experience, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him stay with the Cavaliers for a few upcoming games, especially with David Nwaba still dealing with knee soreness and Sam Dekker set to hit the one-month mark with his injury Monday night in Brooklyn. 

    By rule, players on Two-Way deals act as a 16th and 17th roster spot. In the case of the Cavs it's the 15th and 16th. They can spend up to 45 days with the NBA team. But, according to a front office source, those days are pro-rated over the course of the season so the Cavs' two newest players can have up to 34 days in Cleveland. 

    Preston, an exciting 6-foot-10 forward and former McDonald's High School All-American, signed a Two-Way contract with the Cavs on July 7.

    There had been recent internal conversations about calling him up from Canton while the Cavaliers were shorthanded. But ultimately, the team determined he was still too far away in his development and couldn't help with their immediate needs.

    While the Cavs recognize Preston's untapped potential and the inherent risk in letting him go, he hasn't been able to put it all together playing in Canton. 

    In 10 games with the Charge, Preston is averaging 6.1 points on 35 percent shooting and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc, covering 2.1 attempts per game, to go with 3.8 rebounds. 

    Historically, the Cavs have given younger G League players opportunities to earn bigger roles and this is not different. Last February, they signed swingman Marcus Thornton to a 10-day contract.

    Cleveland was looking at Harrison, a long-limbed point guard, as someone who could possibly earn the team's final roster spot. He was signed to a Two-Way contract on Nov. 9 and appeared in 10 of 11 games for the Cavs, averaging 4.3 points on 30.8 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from beyond the arc to go with 1.7 assists and 1.5 rebounds.

    At the time the Cavs signed Harrison, head coach Larry Drew cited a need for an extra ball-handler. With George Hill back from his shoulder injury and the addition of Alec Burks recently, Harrison -- who did not play in Saturday's loss against Toronto -- became expendable.

    Drew said following Saturday's loss that Burks would continue to share ball-handling responsibilities for the revamped second unit. That was the role Harrison previously occupied. 


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    Five power conferences and qualified outsiders will not go into the four-team College Football Playoff. Fixing it means rewarding league champions and increasing fairness.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Like the camel, memorably called "a horse designed by a committee," but worse, the College Football Playoff is a jumble of contradictory designs.

    If you're going somewhere you might get thirsty, a camel is a fine creature to have around.

    If you're trying to administer a national championship, the CFP in its current form is  marred by subjective judgment, flawed compromise, and an exclusionary result that disenfranchises the traditional powers it is meant to placate while also snubbing the new powers rising from places known for home fries and hash browns (Boise State), or Disney mice and ducks (Central Florida).

    Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma make up this year's field.

    Every game doesn't always matter

    The CFP casts itself as the guardian of the regular season, because "every game matters," but cheapens it by admitting to its little playoff quartet teams that don't even win their league's division (Alabama 2017, Ohio State 2016.)

    It asks almost everyone, blueblood or upstart, to lay it on the line in conference championship games, even if they are rematches (Texas-Oklahoma, this season), yet gives an appalling pass on the extra game to Notre Dame

    The Irish bye

    This is because Notre Dame is often the only football independent worth mentioning. And because the Irish squeaked by big names Michigan (which came within 23 points of Ohio State) and Southern Cal (which, at 5-7, had its worst team since 2000 and its fewest victories since 1991.) Notre Dame's highest-ranked victim outside of the Wolverines was No. 20 Syracuse.

    It seems fitting that the CFP selection committee, like the Last Supper, has 13 members, providing enough betrayal and scheming to account for the presence of several Judases.

    Two straight years of B10, Pac-12 snubs

    Ohio State (12-1) finished sixth, behind two-loss Georgia. The Buckeyes and the Pac-12 champion, Washington, were snubbed by committee chairman Rob Mullens of the Nike-owned subsidiary known as the University of Oregon and his cohorts.

    The Buckeyes and Huskies will meet Jan.1 in the Rose Bowl.

    This makes back-to-back years two of the most prestigious and storied conferences and their fans have had no representative. 

    It is frankly hard to believe that Power 5 conference fans and commissioners will stand for this. 

    The OSU vs. OU decision

    Ohio State owned one-point victories at Maryland, where the Buckeyes twice trailed by 14 points, and at Penn State where the Nittany Lions led by 12 points in the fourth quarter. This was a very tough environment, with the game held  on a White Out night.

    Oklahoma, was judged superior, because its loss was by three points on a neutral field to traditional rival Texas and Ohio State's was by 29 in an actual road game at Purdue.

    Oklahoma also gave up 40 or more points five times, including four in a row, played a 59-56 flag football game at West Virginia, and was taken to overtime before subduing a service academy, Army.

    Eight teams, no wild-cards,

    Fixing this mess is actually simple:

    Every Power 5 conference champion qualifies for the CFP. There are no wild cards.

    The defenders of the  current format say it makes every game matter. 

    The sensible change is to make every conference game matter more than anything else. Like the World Series, playoff teams will have to win a conference "pennant" to qualify.

    Three additional spots are guaranteed to a mix of independents (most likely, Notre Dame or Brigham Young) and non-Power 5 schools.

    Cries of academic hardship during the protracted playoffs ring hollow. The FCS schools hold a 24-team playoff, with four or even five wins needed, and the ivory towers still stand.

    It's time to put the camel out to pasture. Er, oasis.


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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-18) will try to snap their four-game losing streak against the Brooklyn Nets (8-16) on Monday night.

    BROOKLYN -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-18) will try to snap their four-game losing streak against the Brooklyn Nets (8-16) on Monday night. 

    When: 7:30 p.m.

    Where: Barclays Center

    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 Nets 102-86 on Oct. 24 in Cleveland. 

    Cavs minute: This is the second of four contests between the two opponents this season with each team hosting one more (2/13 at CLE, 3/6 at BKN). ... The Cavs are 13-4 in their last 17 meetings against Brooklyn. ... The Cavs had six players finish in double figures versus Toronto on Saturday (Jordan Clarkson - 18, Tristan Thompson - 18, Rodney Hood - 13, Alec Burks - 13, Cedi Osman - 12, Collin Sexton - 10). It's the 10th time the Cavs have had at least six players score in double figures this season. ... Thompson recorded his 12th double-double of the season Saturday night, scoring a team-high 18 points to go with 19 rebounds. It was the sixth time he has grabbed at least 15 boards in a single game, matching his most 15-plus rebound games in a season (achieved twice, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons). ... Sexton tallied 10 points against the Raptors. Sexton has scored in double figures in 18-of-22 games this season, including all 12 of his starts. ... Burks posted his second consecutive double-digit scoring game as a Cavalier, pouring in 13 points off the bench against the Raptors. 

    Nets minute: The Nets have lost six straight games and seven of their last eight. ... Caris LeVert will be missing his 11th straight game. ... Brooklyn was 6-8 with LeVert and is just 2-8 without him. ... A win Monday would mark the second consecutive win for the Nets against Cleveland. It would give the Nets their first consecutive wins over the Cavs since the 2013-14 season. ... The Nets' reserves are averaging 45.1 points, which ranks fourth in the NBA. ... Brooklyn is second in the league in drives per game (51.8). ... Spencer Dinwiddie leads the NBA in double-digit scoring games off the bench with 21 -- one more than Cleveland's Clarkson. ... D'Angelo Russell ranks second on the Nets in scoring (17.5) and first in assists (5.8) and 3-pointers (58). ... Former Cavalier Joe Harris made 22 straight starts to open the season prior to sitting the last two games with left adductor tightness. The 22 starts are already a single-season career-high. 

    Probable starters

    Cavs

    F Cedi Osman

    F Rodney Hood

    C Tristan Thompson

    G George Hill

    G Collin Sexton

    Nets

    F Allen Crabbe

    F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

    C Jarrett Allen

    G Spencer Dinwiddie

    G D'Angelo Russell

    See Cavs stats

    See Nets stats 


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    Was the Buckeyes' blowout loss to unranked Purdue too much to overcome?

    Selection Sunday has come and gone, and not only did Ohio State miss out on the College Football Playoff, but it was also ranked below two-loss Georgia -- despite winning the Big 10 championship. Many argue that winning a conference title should grant any team a shot to play for the national championship. Still, the Buckeyes' blowout loss to unranked Purdue earlier in the year was too much to overcome. What do you think? [?]

    PERSPECTIVES

    Apparently, conference championships mean nothing to the College Football Playoff selection committee. Ohio State only lost one game all season, had a tougher schedule than Notre Dame, won the Big 10 title, and still didn't make it into the playoff.

    Oklahoma was the last team in the College Football Playoff, but can't stop a nosebleed with its 96th ranked defense. To add insult to injury, Georgia is ranked ahead of Ohio State despite losing two games. The Buckeyes got robbed. 

    Column: OSU knows more College Football Playoff heartache than any team

    Ohio State won its conference championship, but that doesn't mean anything if the team isn't one of the four best teams in the country. The selection committee wasn't blinded by the notion that a conference title is an automatic berth to the College Football Playoff. That only gets you so far and it wasn't enough for Ohio State.

    A blowout loss to unranked Purdue is enough to sink any talk of Ohio State being included in this year's playoff. The selection committee got it right.

    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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    On the very next possession, Drew called a play for the new guy Burks and he delivered the biggest basket of the game -- the prologue to what he hopes is a new story in his basketball career that has been wrecked by injuries and a lack of playing time in recent years.

    BROOKLYN -- The game was starting to slip away, shades of an early November matchup against the Orlando Magic where the Cleveland Cavaliers coughed up a five-point lead in the final 40-plus seconds and lost in stunning fashion. 

    Monday night featured the same horrible late-game execution -- the bad habits the Cavs are trying desperately to eliminate. They committed five costly turnovers in the fourth quarter. Poor shot selection wrecked any offensive flow. That one-on-one basketball that has become Cleveland's crutch when pressure hits popped back up. 

    The fourth quarter was once again a horror show. But that night in Orlando, the Cavs didn't have Alec Burks. This time in Brooklyn they did.

    That turned out to be the difference, as his thunderous two-handed dunk with 3.2 seconds led the Cavs to a 99-97 win against the Brooklyn Nets. 

    Welcome to Cleveland. 

    In just his third game, the newest Cavalier who said he viewed this opportunity as a "blank sheet," saved the Cavs from another late-game collapse.

    When the Cavs did get stops in the fourth quarter, looking up to the challenge of holding off Brooklyn's surge, they gave up offensive rebounds, including a missed 3-pointer from D'Angelo Russell that was tossed back in by Rodions Kurucs to tie the game with the shot clock off. 

    An 11-point Cleveland lead with around four minutes remaining was completely wiped away. 

    On the very next possession, head coach Larry Drew called a play for the new guy Burks and he delivered the biggest basket of the game -- the prologue to what he hopes is a new story in his basketball career that has been wrecked by injuries and a lack of playing time in recent years. 

    After getting a switch, Burks drove to his right, went behind his back, lost defender Spencer Dinwiddie and threw down the game-winning dunk.

    "The execution on the play was good," Drew said. "He just made a fantastic, athletic play. It was a clearout for him and he made a terrific move."

    The bench exploded. Kevin Love, in a suit once again, led the cheers, pounding Burks' chest. Prior to the season, the Cavs -- and Love -- had visions of him being in that spot, the team's go-to guy when needing a bucket. His injury led to a committee approach, with Burks' number being called this time. 

    Following a timeout, Dinwiddie missed a 3-pointer -- his chance at redemption -- over Tristan Thompson and the Cavs escaped Brooklyn with a needed win. 

    Burks finished what he started alongside Jordan Clarkson in the first quarter. 

    Long before the heroics, poor play had carried over from the previous four games and it looked like Cleveland was staring at a fifth straight loss. 

    That's when Drew signaled for a new duo -- one he excitedly spoke about early Monday morning at a nearby college where the Cavs held shootaround. 

    Clarkson and Burks. 

    Both players sparked a turnaround and then Burks punctuated it late for the Cavs, who led by double-digits on a few separate occasions and even pushed the lead to 13 points at one time. 

    "I think Alec complements Jordan," Drew said. "And I think Jordan complements Alec. There are some good combinations there. We just have to put it all together."

    With the Cavs looking lethargic early on, Drew inserted the lively pair at the 3:36 mark of the first quarter. The Cavs were trailing 23-18. Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 12-6 to finish the quarter, taking a one-point lead into the second. 

    Burks ended the night with 13 points on 5-of-13 from the field to go with seven rebounds in 29 minutes. 

    Clarkson poured in 20 points and grabbed 11 boards -- his first double-double of the season and fourth of his career. 

    Drew said he was going to experiment with different lineup combinations. It appears he has found one with Burks and Clarkson together.

    Drew also might now have another crunch-time option. 

    "He attacks the basket," Drew said of Burks. "Because he's so athletic, he can maneuver to the basket and get a shot off. The one thing I was trying to do, I wanted to be aggressive on the last play of the game. If the same shot hadn't gone in, just wanted to take them to overtime. We were going to get the last shot. He just made a really good move with the basketball."

    Thompson continues dominance 

    More vocal than he's ever been, Thompson has taken on the primary leadership role this season, trying to teach Collin Sexton, Clarkson and others the many lessons he learned during four seasons with LeBron James.

    But Thompson has also become the leader on the floor.

    Not only the linchpin of the defense, Thompson has become integral in the Cleveland offensive attack. His screens open looks for teammates. He pulls down offensive rebounds, getting second-chance opportunities -- a must for a team whose offense fluctuates nightly. He's also become a threat at the elbow or in the post, showing he's much more than just a dynamic roller and put-back specialist. 

    Thompson recorded his 13th double-double and seventh in the last eight games. He scored 19 points to go with 14 rebounds. He had a vital put-back following a Burks missed layup in the final minute. 

    George Hill getting more comfortable

    In his second game back from a sprained right shoulder, Hill looked much more comfortable. He attacked defenders off the dribble and wasn't worried about taking contact in the paint.

    Drew said he wanted to keep Hill around the 20-minute mark while monitoring his stamina and effectiveness. With the game hanging there late in the fourth quarter and the Nets making a late surge, Drew ignored that restriction because he felt it was best. 

    "I was going on feel," Drew said. "I actually had taken Jordan out the game too, and Cedi, I took them both out of the game. But I strictly went on feel and putting Jordan back in and putting Alec back in. And then deciding to go ahead and stay with G Hill, although I did play him a little bit too many minutes."

    Hill finished with six points in 35 minutes. He was on the court the entire fourth quarter.  

    Up next

    The Cavaliers return home for the start of a three-game homestand against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. 


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    Late Monday night, on that same court where he was pulled early and his life forever changed, Burks was endearing himself to his new teammates after his two-handed dunk saved the Cavs from a fourth-quarter collapse.

    BROOKLYN -- Less than a week ago, Alec Burks was inside the Barclay's Center as the Utah Jazz were set to play the Brooklyn Nets. That's when he got the news: Burks had been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers along with a pair of second-round picks in exchange for Kyle Korver.

    Late Monday night, on that same court where he was pulled early and his life forever changed, Burks was endearing himself to his new teammates after his two-handed dunk saved the Cavs from a fourth-quarter collapse.

    Talk about full circle.

    "I didn't even look at it like that," Burks said. "But yeah, it's crazy. Maybe I will look back later after this whole thing."

    In the meantime, Burks still has plenty of work to do. He knows that. Given his contract situation, an expiring $11.5 million deal, he's one of Cleveland's most appealing trade chips. For a team looking to acquire assets, they may have no other choice. 

    The Cavs aren't interested in trading Kevin Love unless they get blown away by an offer. They signed him to a lucrative extension this off-season and it wasn't a deal solely about this year. They want him around for the long haul, when Collin Sexton is more mature, when other youngsters are added and the vision comes into focus.

    JR Smith is at home and his only value comes in the form of a contract that's not fully guaranteed following this season. Tristan Thompson has become the team's anchor and leader, the kind of player a rebuilding team needs. Cedi Osman is still viewed as part of this team's future. Who knows how much the Cavs can get for George Hill, a 32-year-old point guard who has dealt with injuries over the last few seasons and watched as his production has declined. 

    That leaves Burks. His contract may even have more value than what he brings on the court. Although performances like the one he had in Brooklyn certainly point the other way.

    After the game Burks was asked if Cleveland is where he wants to be.

    "Hopefully. That's not up to me," Burks said. "We will see what happens."

    Still, it can't be easy having that question hovering over him. Rodney Hood admitted that his contract year and being traded to Cleveland in February was a weight too heavy. He lost himself and had a hard time staying focused. Hood will use that experience, his own shortcomings, to help guide his buddy Burks. 

    "It's tough. But he's a mature dude," Hood told cleveland.com. "This is his eighth year. We start to learn about the business as we go along. As long as you have a job in the league, it's great. I'm sure he's fine and at peace with it. The future will take care of itself. I think Alec can flourish here." 

    Burks is doing his best to focus on this opportunity. It's essentially his trial period. So far, so good.

    Head coach Larry Drew raves about Burks' fit, pointing to his speed, playmaking, ball-handling and athleticism. All of it was on display on that late-clock rack-attack.

    "That's his game. He attacks the basket," Drew said. "Because he's so athletic, he can maneuver to the basket and get a shot off. The one thing I was trying to do, I wanted to be aggressive on the last play of the game. If the same shot hadn't gone in, just wanted to take them to overtime. We were going to get the last shot. He just made a really good move with the basketball."

    Even though Burks is still getting acclimated and admits chemistry needs to keep building and he's not in a good rhythm yet, it helps that he has Hood and ex-teammate Hill -- the two other players coincidentally involved in the set that led to the game-winning dunk against Brooklyn.

    With the shot clock off and the score tied, Drew called the play for Burks. Three games into his Cavaliers tenure, the newbie was the team's go-to guy.

    Not Jordan Clarkson, who bricked a jumper on the previous possession. Not Sexton -- he was on the bench, pulled with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter. Not Hill, who faltered late against the Magic in November and had a costly turnover in the final minutes Monday. Not Hood, who was having an off night.

    It was Burks. The next scene in his audition.

    The play was designed for Hood to set a peel screen. When the Nets switched and put Spencer Dinwiddie on Burks, it was go time. Dinwiddie had five fouls. He didn't want to pick up another in case the game went into overtime. That had Burks thinking attack all the way.

    "He'd be reluctant to make any bad decisions, so I just tried to be aggressive," Burks said. "It feels great. (Drew) trusts my talent, my abilities and my teammates trust me. I've only known them for what, three days, and they trust me too. So it's a great feeling."

    Burks was all smiles leaving Brooklyn this time. Quite a difference from the whirlwind Wednesday when he was leaving the arena, his teammates and the only franchise he ever knew.

    That night, there was no warning. Burks found out shortly before the news hit Twitter. He was trying to process what just happened, trying get a handle on his future, which admittedly still remains foggy.

    Nights like Monday can start to clear it up.


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    The competitive rookie wasn't happy. The look he shot to the bench spoke volumes.

    BROOKLYN -- With 2:42 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Cleveland Cavaliers clinging to a four-point lead, head coach Larry Drew signaled for Collin Sexton to come out of the game.

    The competitive rookie wasn't happy. The look he shot to the bench spoke volumes.

    It was a pressure moment, the Cavs' offense fading down the stretch again and in need of better execution. Sexton wanted to be part of that. He wanted to lead the team, take the next step in his development.

    But this can be used as a learning experience too. It can teach him how to handle adversity, how to deal with a decision that can be disappointing in the moment.

    Drew went to Jordan Clarkson -- one of the players who has shared closing responsibilities since Kevin Love's injury. The swap was logical, as Clarkson scored a team-high 20 points.

    When asked after the game whether sitting Sexton late will stunt his growth, Drew was emphatic that it wouldn't.

    "No because we got a long way to go. He's going to be in the situation a lot, a lot more," Drew said. "You can learn just as much sitting over there watching, so you can kind of get a feel and see what other guys are doing, but it's a long season and we're going to be in a lot of different situations where he's going to be allowed to experience some of this stuff. Which he already has. He's experienced late-game situations. Right now, as I said we're in the game and I strictly went on feel as far as who I wanted in the game at that particular time. But he's going to get his opportunities."

    That decision came less than 40 seconds after Sexton hoisted an early-clock mid-range jumper that bounced off the rim and led to a few exasperated looks on the sidelines.

    It wasn't always pretty. But Drew's choice turned out to be correct. Ultimately the Cavs left Brooklyn with a win, snapping their four-game losing skid.

    Still, this season -- because of a gruesome start and a handful of injuries that have forced Cleveland to play shorthanded for most of the season -- is supposed to be more about the process than results. It's why players pull positives from losses and don't get beaten down when they can't hang with elite teams like Oklahoma City, Toronto and Boston recently.

    In the last two games, Drew has pushed player development to the side. In the last two games, the team's most important building block has played three total minutes in the fourth quarter.

    Instead of the youngster who needs more experience in those moments, Drew opted for 32-year-old veteran George Hill.

    He was supposed to be on a minutes restriction, with Drew saying around 20 before tipoff. But Hill played the entire fourth quarter, logging 35 total minutes.

    "I was going on feel. I really was," Drew said. "I actually had taken Jordan (Clarkson) out the game too, and Cedi (Osman), I took them both out of the game. But I strictly went on feel and putting in Jordan back in and putting Alec (Burks) back in. And then deciding to go ahead and stay with G Hill, although I did play him a little bit too many minutes."

    Hill's results were mixed down the stretch. His lazy pass was taken away by Rodions Kurucs and ended with a D'Angelo Russell put-back to cut the lead to two. Hill didn't score, didn't take a shot and committed two turnovers in the fourth quarter. But he's been in those situations before and that's why leaning on him is easier.

    As Drew said, and he's right, Sexton has had his chances prior to Monday night. A play was drawn up for him late against Chicago on Nov. 10. Sexton drove all the way to the basket, missed the shot, had his follow-up swatted away and the Cavs lost by one. They've played four games already that came down to the final few possessions. He was in there late against the Lakers. He got chances against Minnesota and repeatedly came up empty. Given the way this season has gone, the Cavs will probably get more.

    Maybe not now. But eventually Sexton will need to be on the court during those moments and he likely will. That's a big part of what this season is about.

    Way back during training camp, members of the front office talked about the anti-tanking approach and the role Sexton's development was going to play in that. The Cavs wanted him to be a part of meaningful games, where he could help determine outcomes. Those situations were going to help him learn. But they were also going to teach the Cavs plenty about Sexton, giving them a better, deeper evaluation.

    On Monday, Drew went a different direction, opting for the lineup that he felt gave the team the best shot. Tough to quibble too much given the excitement when the buzzer sounded.

    The Cavs needed something positive after a few blowout losses recently and with the Golden State Warriors coming to town Wednesday.

    In the locker room after the game, Sexton carried the same demeanor as usual. He didn't seem bothered by the benching.

    "It was a big win," he said. "Just making sure that when I'm out there, I'm out there giving my all, doing whatever it takes for the team to get a win."

    Yes, even if that means watching the final few minutes from the sidelines.


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    Cleveland's first female IMG agent Buffy Filippell reaches the top of her game with TeamWork Consulting and TeamWork Online, companies she founded. The Shaker Heights resident boats some of the top clients in the Cleveland sports community including the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Sports Commission. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Buffy Filippell has been called the Godmother of Sports Management. 

    The 64-year-old Shaker Heights resident was the first female IMG sports agent in Cleveland in 1978 and nine years later founded TeamWork Consulting, which recruits executives for jobs in sports and live events. She developed TeamWork Online in 2000.

    Not that Filippell considered herself a trailblazer. She just wanted to do the work, to create a family of clients she takes care of.

    "I think being naive helped me take risks when I was young. I just didn't know better," Filippell said. "Maybe it was coupled with a stubbornness? Women can't be afraid to take risk, particularly when we don't have anything to start with." 

    A self-proclaimed tomboy, Filippell was an athlete herself, participating in the 1974 USTA Women's National Collegiate Tennis Championships as a student at Indiana University. That gave her the boost to get her first job. 

    Now, her company and its online offshoot boasts more than 1,200 employers - 85 percent of all major league sport organizations, plus minor leagues, golf, tennis, motorsports, mixed martial arts, colleges, major events and the majority of National Governing Bodies. Her top clients in Cleveland include Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Sports Commission and IMG.

    Filippell last year was one of three winners of the WISE Women in Sports and Events Women of the Year Award, given previously to big names like Billie Jean King and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

    Shatter spoke with Filippell about her career, her role models and her advice for women today. (Hint: Call your mom.) 

    The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

    Who were the greatest sports influences in your life growing up? 

    The sports influence came from my brother.

    I used to comb my hair back like him. I used to play Matchbox cars with him, we played with baseball or football cards of sports players and he drew up football or baseball plays on the carpet, depending on the players we were playing with.

    With white shirt cardboard from my dad's shirts, he also drew up color-coded plays on the cards and we would run basketball plays on the driveway. There's a picture of me throwing a baseball wearing a party-dress and a cowboy hat and mitt on my other hand. My brother is the brain in the family; my sister is a fabulous artist. I had to find my place.

    But my mother (Betty Gordon Searle), who somehow tolerated that, was the real influence in my becoming an entrepreneur. We were tied at the hip.

    I can still remember the joy in going to the grocery store with her and I would sit in the cart looking back at her. I also traveled with her much more than my other siblings. When my father passed away, my stepfather and her support of my own business was immensely helpful in encouraging me.  

    The acorn doesn't fall too far from the tree. She lived in Cleveland for a few years in her youth. She was a big Bob Feller fan.  

    Connie Schultz, the wife of Sen. Sherrod Brown and entrepreneur herself, is godmother to my son, Davis. My husband Mark and I are godparents to her daughter, Caitlin. Connie knew my mother. I think these two women were my greatest influence, more than people know. 

    How did your success in tennis at Indiana University help you in your career?  

    I was good athletically. I swam, ran track, played basketball, golf, field hockey and even won awards in a private girl's middle school for being the top athlete. I moved around a lot, and sports was always a way for me to connect to my classmates as the "new girl." I even rode a unicycle.

    My success in tennis - playing in the 1974 USTA National Collegiate Tennis Championships which I did because I volunteered to do so, as two players from any school who had a team could "volunteer" - was the credential I needed to get my first job with Wilson Sporting Goods in their tennis promotion department. I had been to the national championships, so I knew the top players. Of course, I knew them from watching them in the stands. I lost in the preliminary draw. 

    When you were hired as the first female agent at IMG in 1978, what obstacles did you face being a woman in a male-dominated industry? How did you overcome those obstacles? 

    While I certainly could tell I was the only woman who had an office and a woman as a secretary, I didn't think of myself as a role model or a trailblazer. I think you just try to figure out how to survive.

    One of the most memorable moments that brought home to me I was a woman, was when we talked about salary. It seemed I wasn't considered the "breadwinner" of my family and thus wasn't eligible for a certain level of compensation. Men could say that even if they didn't have a family.  

    Do you challenge anyone? No, you just try to do your best and call your mom when you are stressed. 

    How did your mom help in your career? 

    My sister and brother were older and off at college. My mom and I became quite close. She was my sixth grade teacher at a private girls school. We drove to school every day. When I was in college, she became a bridge teacher at the Women's Athletic Club in downtown Chicago and the Casino Club. She was a fairly young, Life-Master Bridge Player, and she competed in bridge tournaments up until her 80s. She taught at various country clubs and then gave private lessons to women's groups. She had her own business. 

    She was busy; she was popular and she had a lot of friends. She didn't encourage me to start my own business, but she was incredibly supportive of it and always proud of me.

    As she aged, I became more like her and served in the role she had with her mother. The flexibility of my career allowed me to do more with her and for that I'm always grateful. 

    What motivated you to found TeamWork, the first recruiting company to focus on sports executive recruiting, in 1987? 

    My father died in April of 1987. I was in my early 30s, recently married and had been working for a big executive search firm, Korn/Ferry. On my second annual review, I was told I wasn't a good recruiter when my father was in a coma from his brain cancer, so I knew I couldn't go back to Korn/Ferry.  

    When he died, I just cried all the time and wrote to all of my women friends and apologized for anything I had ever done wrong to them. I was going to make sure I made amends with my friends before I died.  

    Then I read an article in Time Magazine about how painful situations often lead starting businesses. Fortuitously, I then I received a phone call from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association who said they wanted me to do a search. I told them I didn't work for Korn/Ferry any longer. They said, "Fine, you are the only person who knows what we've been doing for the past year." So, my business was kind of founded for me. 

    How did you get the nickname "Godmother of Sports Management?" 

    Dr. Bill Sutton, who will be retiring from the University of South Florida this August, coined the phrase in an article for SportsBusiness Journal. We have been very close over the years. When I first started recruiting, I helped him get a job. I was six months pregnant, and met him on my back porch. I cared about him.  

    In fact, I cared about all of the people I work with and have recruited. I used to give the recruits a directory of all of the others I recruited and a T-shirt every year. I felt like they were members of my family; I was going to take care of them.  

    As I've gotten older and had a family of my own, I hope I've fulfilled this role of "Godmother."

    What advice do you have for women hoping to build or maintain a sports career? 

    I would encourage women to take risks in their career. Find the companies with the best reputations and work there, do your best and get to know everyone there. Make sure you do well enough so people rely upon you for the business success. Look for opportunities that are underserved and fill those needs. 

    What networking tips do you have for people in any industry? 

    You need to present yourself as attractive; be excited about your life. Take a picture with someone you want to meet again, and follow up. This can be an employer or even a friend. Keep following up until you can set another time to meet that someone again. The second time, have a longer conversation. Then you'll know if you really connect. Keep making those connections.  

    People are busy. Don't let that stop you. Have get-togethers at your home and invite people to come. My husband and I would have a holiday party every year and it really helped in developing better relationships with people in our community. 


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