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    An MRI conducted Tuesday morning showed no fractures.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson will miss approximately 2-4 weeks with a sprained left foot. 

    Thompson suffered the injury in the third quarter of Monday's 108-92 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks when he landed awkwardly on Malcolm Brogdon's foot. Thompson tried to shake it off, played a couple more possessions and signaled to the bench before heading to the locker room. He did not return to the game. 

    An MRI conducted Tuesday morning at the Cleveland Clinic showed no fractures. 

    Thompson told reporters after the game his foot was "a little sore and swollen." He was evaluated at the arena and set for further imaging when the team returned to Cleveland. That testing confirmed the sprain. 

    "I just fell forward on it, it'll be all right," Thompson said. "It happens when you're rebounding and the little guys are down there. It's part of the game. I'm just glad I was able to walk off on my own two feet."

    Thompson has started every game for the Cavaliers at center this season. He is in the midst of a career season, averaging 12.0 points and 11.6 rebounds. 

    This becomes the latest injury in a season dotted with them. Kevin Love remains sidelined following surgery on his foot and is not expected back until after the new year. David Nwaba has missed nine straight games with knee soreness. 

    Larry Nance Jr. is expected to take Thompson's spot in the starting lineup.

    Nance has come off the bench the last two games with head coach Larry Drew opting for a smaller five-man group. He has started eight of his 25 games -- all coming alongside Thompson. 

    The Cavs are 6-21 on the season. They host the Knicks Wednesday night. 

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    It wasn't long ago when Thompson was viewed as an offensive liability. He was a player with an untradeable contract and diminished value in a league focused on offense, spacing and 3-point shooting. Not anymore.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- There's a question the Cleveland Cavaliers will eventually need to answer as they assess the best path back to respectability.

    How valuable is Tristan Thompson?

    The Cavs might be able to figure that out in the next month while Thompson is sidelined with a sprained left foot that he suffered in the third quarter of Cleveland's 108-92 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks.

    You know what they say: you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

    It wasn't long ago when Thompson was viewed as an offensive liability. He was a player with an untradeable contract and diminished value in a league focused on offense, spacing and 3-point shooting. Not anymore.

    "He's been the anchor," Cavs head coach Larry Drew told recently. "Everybody knows he's a workhorse. When you're going through tough times you need that workhorse mentality from everybody so you can work your way out of it. That's what he's been."

    Thanks to a more focused summer, one that included a changed diet and more weightlifting sessions, Thompson is averaging career-highs in points (12.0) and rebounds (11.6).

    He has a team high 15 double-doubles, including two games with at least 20 points and 10 boards. He's one of 16 players averaging a double-double this season. Thompson's Player Efficiency Rating ranks in the top 40, the highest he's ever sat in that category.

    While it's a longshot, there have even been questions about whether Thompson deserves All-Star consideration.

    The numbers don't match other candidates, but they are tough to ignore -- 10th in the NBA in rebounding and No. 2 in offensive boards. A team that fluctuates nightly on offense, the Cavs need those second-chance opportunities. With a dearth of high-end talent, they must take a team-oriented approach and win the areas that sometimes get overlooked. In other words, everything that defines Thompson.

    He still has his limitations, no doubt. But there's a reason the Cavs have a 112.8 offensive rating with him on the floor and the number drops to 106.0 when he's not in the game. He's become more of a focal point on that end, getting the ball at the elbow or in the post where he has added an effective jump-hook to his repertoire, shooting 62.3 percent on those attempts this season.

    Away from the ball he continues to make the customary impact. According to stats, Thompson is tied for the league lead with Utah's Rudy Gobert in screen assists, averaging 5.7 and leading to 12.6 points. Thompson's expected replacement, Larry Nance Jr., averages just 2.6 screen assists that lead to 6.3 points. 

    Before JR Smith left, he always used to refer to Thompson as the "heart of the team."

    "We always go as far as he lets us go," Smith said. "He's the backbone on offense and defense and really the only shot blocker we've had since I've been here. I think he has the biggest role on the team, being physical every night and bringing it every night, with the intensity and what he's known for and that's a hard thing to do, especially as a big."

    Beyond everything else, the Cavs will miss Thompson's leadership during what will be a brutal stretch. He's learned well from LeBron James and members of the organization have seen a more vocal player this season. Earlier in the year, when guys weren't paying attention to defensive schemes, Thompson tore into them. He speaks up during film sessions, giving advice and holding teammates accountable.

    Along with setting the emotional tone with hustle, energy and a won't-back-down attitude, Thompson has become the team's on-court mouthpiece, constantly barking out defensive instructions while helping guide the youngsters during stoppages.

    "We feed off his energy and activity," Drew told "If he's not giving us that I don't think we would give ourselves a chance. We need a guy like him because we know from him night in and night out we're going to get energy, intensity and we're going to get a guy on the glass. His overall approach to everything thus far -- practices, film sessions, games -- they have really been a big deal. It's not easy to get off to a start like this and still as a veteran come out and play with that mindset. He's been a real pro."

    Nance will try to step into Thompson's old starting role. It was just a few months ago when former head coach Tyronn Lue entered with a plan to rotate Thompson and Nance at center. That never materialized. Thompson earned the job and forced the coaching staff to stick with him.

    Nance said following Monday's game that he's ready to pick up the slack. It won't be easy. Thompson is no longer just a role player. He's become irreplaceable.

    Statistically speaking, the Cavs have been around five points per 100 possessions better with Thompson than Nance, who has the third-lowest net rating on the roster. Of all the lineups to log more than 10 minutes this season, Thompson appears in each of the top 4.

    The Cavs were going to lose plenty of games regardless. They already have 21 losses. But Thompson was the guy showing them the right way, bringing the competitive juice that can make losses more tolerable. No Cavalier was playing better than him in the first few months -- the guy the new guard could look to as the rock when things started to come unhinged.

    The others expected to shoulder that responsibility are gone. George Hill and Kyle Korver have been traded. Kevin Love remains sidelined following foot surgery and it's tough to lead from the training room. Smith isn't around anymore.

    This becomes Cleveland's latest obstacle.

    There were two players the Cavs couldn't afford to lose this season. Not if they wanted to stay competitive. Love and Thompson. They are both likely sidelined until 2019.

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (6-21) will host the New York Knicks (8-20) on Wednesday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (6-21) will host the New York Knicks (8-20) on Wednesday 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 Knicks 110-98 in the 2017-18 regular season finale on April 11, 2018. 

    Cavs minute: This is the first meeting between the Cavs and Knicks this season. ... The Cavs hold a 12-2 record in the last 14 games against the Knicks. ... The Cavs will be without starting center Tristan Thompson who could miss up to a month with a sprained left foot. ... Thompson became the 17th player in franchise history to record 5,000 career points during Monday's loss against Milwaukee. ... Cleveland's bench scored 51 points in Monday's game. It marked the 20th time outscoring an opponents' bench and the seventh 50-plus point performance of the season. ... Collin Sexton extended his double-digit scoring streak Monday. ... He has now scored in double figures in 23 games so far, which is second-most among all rookies. ... Matthew Dellavedova (1,999) needs just one point to reach 2,000 for his career. ... He scored a season-high 11 points in his first game back with the Cavs -- the only time he has reached double figures all season. 

    Knicks minute: Emmanuel Mudiay has scored in double figures in 12 games this season, including nine out of the last 12. ... Rookie Kevin Knox, taken one pick after Sexton in the 2018 NBA Draft, is averaging 15.6 points on 39.2 percent shooting in his five games in December. ... Tim Hardaway Jr. had recorded just seven 30-plus point games coming into the season. He is one away from matching that career total this season alone. ... Hardaway is tied for fifth in the NBA with 77 made 3-pointers. ... Enes Kanter has tallied 18 double-doubles, which ranks third. ... Noah Vonleh has set a new career high for double-doubles in a season with seven in 27 games. His previous best was four.

    Probable starters:


    F Cedi Osman

    F Rodney Hood

    C Larry Nance Jr.

    G Alec Burks

    G Collin Sexton


    F Noah Vonleh

    F Mario Hezonja

    C Enes Kanter

    G Emmanuel Mudiay

    G Tim Hardaway Jr. 

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    David Nwaba was able to participate in the morning shootaround and is listed as questionable.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers may be getting one of their injured players back for Wednesday's matchup against the New York Knicks. 

    David Nwaba was able to participate in the morning shootaround and is officially listed as questionable. 

    Nwaba has missed the last nine games with right knee soreness. He started three games at power forward before suffering the injury, helping transform the Cavs into a tougher, more versatile defense while guarding the likes of LeBron James and James Harden. 

    With Nwaba out of the lineup, Cavs head coach Larry Drew has used a handful of different players at the 4 spot. Most recently, Drew opted for a starting group featuring Rodney Hood and Cedi Osman as the other two frontcourt players and may continue with that against New York.

    On the season, Nwaba is averaging 6.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 17.4 minutes. 

    The Cavs will once again be without Kevin Love, who isn't expected back until the new year, and Tristan Thompson, as he could miss up to a month with a sprained foot. 

    The Cavs are 6-21 on the season. 

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    Mahomes shattered expectations this year, blasting teams with his cannon arm and poise under pressure. But Brees has deadly precision that no one can equal. Watch video

    NFL stars blew up the league in 2018, but two players truly stand above the rest. Patrick Mahomes came into the year with a lot of and still managed to shatter those expectations, blasting teams with his cannon arm and poise under pressure. Drew Brees came into the season at a youthful 39 years old, an age where most athletes transition to the television booth, and lit up the league with deadly efficiency. Who is the NFL's MVP? 


    Mahomes was hyped as the next unflappable gunslinger of the NFL. More than halfway through the season, he's managed to exceed expectations.

    The Chiefs quarterback has shown the ability to make huge throws in the pocket, and on the run, as Kansas City sits atop the AFC West. Mahomes has powered the Chiefs' winning efforts, throwing for 3,628 passing yards and a league-leading 37 touchdowns through 11 weeks. His right arm opens up the running game, resulting in the team explosive offense. No other player means more to his team than Mahomes.

    NFL MVP betting odds

    At 39 years old, Brees is still picking teams apart like he's in his twenties.

    He might not have a gun for an arm like Mahomes, but Brees has deadly precision that no one can equal. Through 12 games, Brees has been the most accurate quarterback in the league, completing 75.5 percent of his passes. He also has the highest passer rating through the regular season, thus far.

    Brees is an old dog, but he still has plenty of tricks to make defenders look silly. That's why he should be this year's MVP.

    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 natural reaction would be to wallow in the misery of a brutal season that's about to get even worse.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- A few months ago, now-fired head coach Tyronn Lue revealed his grand plan at starting center, saying he was going to rotate Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson depending on the matchups.

    It never happened. Nance hasn't started a game at center this season. As he said Wednesday morning, "plans change."

    That's happening once again for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will be without starting center Tristan Thompson for possibly a month, leaving Nance as the temporary fill-in.

    "It's obviously tough to lose Tristan the way he was playing, the way he was leading this year," Nance said Wednesday following shootaround. "But the responsibility doesn't fall on one guy, it's us all as a group -- myself, Collin (Sexton), Cedi (Osman), Channing (Frye), guys that have been in the rotation and guys that have been around to pick up his leadership and fill in for his absence."

    The natural reaction would be to wallow in the misery of a brutal season that's about to get even worse.

    The Cavs have already been without their best player, Kevin Love, since October and won't get him back until the calendar flips to 2019. Now Thompson goes down with a sprained foot. It's the latest injury to hit a team that has been playing shorthanded since the second week.

    Earlier this season, before he was traded to Milwaukee, George Hill was sidelined for weeks with a sprained shoulder. While that loss was tough at first, it also gave Sexton a much bigger opportunity. He took advantage, blossoming into a Rookie of the Year candidate, showing the kind of development that has front office members giddy about his future and making Hill expendable.

    Thompson's injury is one Cleveland can't afford. Everyone recognizes his value. But that loss could have a positive impact on Nance.

    "There are certain things that happen that you just can't prepare for," Nance said. "You see Jaron (Blossomgame) and Jalen (Jones) get an incredible opportunity. You get to see Collin expand his game more. Myself, I get to handle a little bit more responsibility. It's going to sound corny, but when life gives you lemons ... we've just got to figure out how to make the best of it and we'll be ready for them to come back."

    In a way, this is the opportunity Nance thought he was getting from the beginning, when Lue mentioned Nance and Thompson sharing starting center duties.

    "Plans change," Nance said. "That's something that I can't sit here and sulk about. Like I said, Tristan has been awesome. He's been awesome. Not a player on the team happier for him than I am. It's not something that I look at like, 'Man I'm getting screwed out of an opportunity.' I'm so happy for Tristan and now that I am getting comfortable in a role -- it had been starting, not starting, starting, not starting, at the 4, at the 5 -- so now that I'm getting comfortable in a role I'm starting to pick it up and really catch a rhythm. Unfortunate that he went down, but now it's time for me to expand on it."

    Nance admitted that he's "pretty excited" about this chance. He's already been able to show different elements of his game -- pushing in transition, ball-handling, passing and improved outside shooting. Now he will be getting more minutes, a chance to bump up from his 23.6 per game.

    With Thompson down, Nance said he needs to pick up the rebounding slack. Thompson was averaging 11.6 boards, including 5.0 on the offensive end. Nance is averaging 6.6 overall. 

    "I need to rev that up a little bit more and really start showing that we have two guys that can do that," Nance said. "He'll be in my ear, even though he's back on the training table. He'll be in my ear on where I can go for loose balls, chase rebounds and how to improve in that manner. He's off the court, but he's not off the team."

    Thompson's leadership void will need to be filled as well.

    During a season wrecked with injuries, head coach Larry Drew has had the same message. It won't change now. Effort and defense cannot wane just because of a few losses. Filling the massive void falls on everyone and the team can't afford any negative thoughts about what these setbacks mean to their chances.

    "Nobody is feeling sorry for us," Nance said. "The Knicks aren't going to be like, 'Oh man you guys lost two pretty good players so we're going to give you this game tonight.' Nobody is going to lay down for us. We just have to keep on playing, keep on fighting.

    "We're all NBA players and we're all super-talented. Just have to trust one another and trust everybody is going to make the right decision."

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    Dellavedova, a longtime fan favorite, received a boisterous ovation, as some fans even welcomed him back by rising to their feet and showering him with an ovation usually received for star players. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers fans welcomed Matthew Dellavedova back to Cleveland with open arms on Wednesday night. 

    In his return to Quicken Loans Arena as a member of the Cavs, Dellavedova checked in for rookie Collin Sexton at the 4:14 mark of the first quarter. Dellavedova, a longtime fan favorite, received a boisterous ovation, as some even rose to their feet and showered him with an ovation usually received for a star. 

    Moments later, Dellavedova drained a 3-pointer. Then he buried another one, causing the crowd to erupt once again. Delly scored nine points in his first nine minutes. 

    "I appreciate the love from everyone," Dellavedova said recently. "Definitely makes me feel very welcome."

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    Gone are the days of centering the franchise on one player -- even if those days were memorable, successful and glorious.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Everything with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season is about a team-first committee approach. 

    That's how they've been able to survive Kevin Love's absence, losing their most important player four games into the new season. It's how they were able to pull off an improbable 113-106 win against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, just days after Tristan Thompson was lost because of a sprained foot and Cleveland was forced to use a pair of Two-Way players in its primary rotation.

    Gone are the days of centering the franchise on one guy -- even if those days were memorable, successful and glorious.

    The Cavs don't have that luxury anymore. No one player can fill in the gaps when an injury pops up.

    On Wednesday, they got just enough of a boost, with the guards picking up the scoring slack and Rodney Hood delivering the dagger in the final seconds. 

    The Knicks erased one-time 22-point Cavs lead, reclaiming the edge with 32.5 seconds after rookie Kevin Knox threw down a dunk in transition to give New York a one-point advantage. 

    With the Cavs teetering, head coach Larry Drew called the final timeout and diagrammed a play for Hood. The Cavs don't have a designated closer. They've been using different players each night. Against New York, it was Hood's turn.

    He used a Larry Nance Jr. screen, got back to his dominant left hand and buried a runner in the lane to put the Cavs back in front.

    Then Cedi Osman hit a pair of free throws and Matthew Dellavedova thwarted one last out-of-bounds play from the Knicks, taking away the first two options as Nance stole the ball away. 

    Hood finished with 23 points on 9-of-14 from the field. 

    Jordan Clarkson added a season-high 28 points on 12-of-21 from the field. Rookie Collin Sexton fizzled late, but still tallied 19 points, extending his double-digit scoring streak to 18 games. The reserves combined for 64 points. 

    Dellavedova, still a fan favorite, poured in a season-best 15 points off the bench, getting showered with MVP chants as he toed the free-throw line late. 

    "Feels great to be back out there. Big rims here," he said with a smile. "It was great to see a few go in early. I really appreciate the support of everybody and I love the fans here and I appreciate everything they do. Just try to give back to them playing hard and doing what I can."

    Dellavedova made his return official at the 4:14 mark of the first quarter, replacing Sexton and receiving his first boisterous ovation. Moments later, he canned a 3-pointer that caused the crowd to erupt. He hit two more in the first half, burying his first three shot attempts in his Cleveland return.

    Prior to the game, Drew said he would turn to Dellavedova to handle more responsibility, especially in pressure moments. He's one of the few that's been in those situations. His feisty defense and infectious energy brought back memories of Cleveland's championship runs when Dellavedova turned into a folk hero. 

    On Wednesday night, it felt like Dellavedova never left. He made his usual impact, with the Cavs outscoring the Knicks by 17 points in 22 minutes with him on the floor.

    "How do you describe the impact Delly made? I have no idea," Nance said. "He was everywhere, it seems. It was not even the stuff that he did on the court so much. Obviously he played really well, shot 3s, hit big free throws, played Delly defense. But the energy of the crowd provided while he was on the court making those plays and being involved was a major boost to us."

    Another chapter in his growing legend.  

    Spot start

    With Thompson sidelined in a walking boot, Drew opted to go with Channing Frye, giving the veteran his first start of the season.

    Hours before the game, the coaching staff was still deciding between Frye, Nance and Ante Zizic. It was a tough matchup against New York's bulky frontline of Enes Kanter and Noah Vonleh and Drew felt Nance would have had a tough time matching up physically. 

    Frye scored zero points in 15 unproductive minutes.

    Nance shined off the bench, filling the box score with three points, seven assists, three steals, three blocks and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes. 

    Up next

    The Cavs will continue their three-game homestand when they host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. 

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    When he buried his first two shots, a pair of 3-pointers, the arena went ballistic. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Matthew Dellavedova walked into Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night as the newest member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. After more than two years away in Milwaukee, floundering on the bench and failing to live up to his contract, he was back in the building where his legend started to grow.

    Wearing an all-black suit, Dellavedova strolled down the hall and went by the old locker room entrance with a smile on his face. Security guards cheered his return.

    "Welcome back Delly," they shouted with excitement.

    About an hour later, as Dellavedova met with members of the media, fans plastered themselves up against the windows at a nearby hang-out spot adjacent to the player's tunnel. They snapped photos, captured video and pounded on the glass to get his attention, wanting a close-up with the beloved Cavalier who endeared himself during the franchise's best times.

    That night, fans only got a brief moment to reconnect, as a mini-tribute video was shown and "Reunited" played through the speakers inside The Q while old teammates mobbed him.

    It was just the prelude. Wednesday night was the climax.

    Dellavedova popped off the bench for the first time at the 4:14 mark of the first quarter, replacing rookie Collin Sexton. Dellavedova was greeted by cheers -- fans standing on their feet and holding up signs in his honor. It was the kind of boisterous ovation typically reserved for the team's best.

    When he buried his first two shots, a pair of 3-pointers, the arena went ballistic.

    "He's a folk hero," Kevin Love told "Bron will have a statue outside and Delly will have a little, smaller one."

    In Dellavedova's second game back with the Cavs -- and first at The Q -- he poured in a season-high 15 points off the bench in 22 minutes. It's the second time he's reached double figures this season -- both games with Cleveland. 

    Despite being on a minute restriction, Dellavedova was part of the team's closing lineup, turning back New York point guard Emmanuel Mudiay on a go-ahead drive and then recovering in time to challenge his shot with 17 seconds left. Moments later, with the Cavs clinging to a three-point lead, Dellavedova stymied New York's out-of-bounds play, racing to cover a pair of Knicks players while giving the tenacious effort that everyone remembered so fondly. It led to a turnover.

    "Thought he did a terrific job," head coach Larry Drew said. "Not just from the shots he made, but that last possession where they took it out on the side and I don't know how many people even noticed, but Delly was on the ball and they started their play and he did a phenomenal job of tracking the ball on the inbounds and it forced a turnover. We as a staff we look at that and that was to perfection. He just brings so many intangibles to the game. Things that we really need on this team."

    After Larry Nance Jr. stole the ball away, he tossed it to Dellavedova who was fouled before walking to the free-throw line. Fans once again showed their appreciation.

    MVP, MVP, MVP.

    "I was leading the MVP chants," Nance told "Yeah, he deserved it. Good to see them rally behind him like that. It was awesome. It was cool to see the city rally behind him. Granted I was in L.A. but I was tuned into my Cavs while he was doing his thing here."

    Nance grew up in this area. He understands the fan base, probably better than any player inside that locker room. When he was a high school star at nearby Revere, he remembers the fanfare surrounding Anderson Varejao -- a player like Dellavedova who built his reputation on toughness, hustle and passion.

    "Because Delly's not one of us, but he is," Nance said when asked about Dellavedova's popularity. "He's a hard-nosed, dive on the floor, grit, fight, leave it all on the court type of guy. At least for me growing up a Cleveland fan, that is the type of guy -- Anderson is the perfect example. You love guys like that. No matter what happens, good or bad, they are giving their all. That's what Delly is and it's infectious for the team really."

    Everyone has a favorite Dellavedova memory, something to add to his story. For Tristan Thompson, it was the IV game, when Dellavedova tired himself out trying to contain Golden State star Stephen Curry in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. So exhausted, Dellavedova ended up in the hospital that night. 

    Channing Frye lights up when thinking about Delly getting his own coffee line and having his own logo. Some will remember Dellavedova's importance in Cleveland's 2015 Eastern Conference finals series win against the Chicago Bulls -- the big shots Dellavedova made while stepping in for an injured Kyrie Irving.

    Love recalls the championship parade.

    "He was in the car right behind me," Love told "However long the parade ended up being, all I heard the whole time was 'Del-ly, Del-ly, Del-ly.' All these cheers, I was thinking maybe LeBron or Kyrie (Irving) were behind me and they were saving the best for last. It was Delly."

    The Dellavedova-Cleveland fairy tale is a script that writes itself.

    Like Cleveland, Dellavedova has always been counted out. A shooting guard out of high school, Dellavedova was a three-star recruit ranked 72nd at his position. He ended up at St. Mary's -- not exactly a basketball power. Even after finishing his college career as the school's all-time leader in scoring, assists, games played, free throw percentage, and three-point shots, he went undrafted and had to work his way onto Cleveland's roster and then into its rotation.

    Sometimes undersized, he never backed down from a challenge, tussling with Al Horford and Taj Gibson in the playoffs. He pestered opponents at every turn, even getting labeled "dirty" by some of them.

    His blue-collar nature and unrelenting work ethic mirrors the city well. He's had to scrap and fight for everything. Who doesn't love an underdog story, especially in a city that gets poked at repeatedly because of sports shortcomings?

    Now he's back, sparking a pile of unforgettable memories, eager to make new ones.

    Just like Wednesday night, as he received a (folk) hero's welcome -- a near-standing ovation and MVP chants while helping the undermanned Cavaliers to an unexpected win.

    "It's awesome," Dellavedova said. "I mean, I really appreciate the support of everybody and I love the fans here and I appreciate everything they do. Just try to give back to them playing hard and doing what I can."

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    Two rookies have lit the sports world on fire, sending fans on to social media to look for highlights daily. Watch video

    Two rookies have lit the sports world on fire, sending fans on to social media to look for highlights daily. New York Giants rookie Saquon Barkley has sprinted his way into fans' hearts with his explosive runs. Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic is still a teenager, but is guiding his squad to wins with deadly shooting and a deft understanding of basketball. Which rookie is more exciting?


    Size, speed, and power. There's nothing Saquon Barkley can't do on the field. Need someone trucked? Call Barkley. Need to leap over a defender? You have Barkley. Need to outrun an entire defense? Hello, Barkley speaking.

    He already has over 1,100 yards rushing and over 1,750 yards from scrimmage. Every week he's doing something that wows everyone. There is no one close to him.

    BuT hE dIdN't Go To CoLlEgE.

    Doncic's draft position raised a lot of eyebrows, but he proved he's worthy of the hype. At just 19 years old, he is showing NBA defenders a full repertoire of offensive moves and a competitive streak made for the NBA. He is averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists as of December 10, including a fourth-quarter outburst that sealed the game for the Mavs against the Rockets.

    But, you know, he didn't do it against Duke, so his EuroLeague MVP last year as a teenager against grown men meant nothing. 

    He's by far the best rookie.

    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 Indians have reacquired Carlos Santana in a deal with Seattle.

    LAS VEGAS -- The Indians have traded for DH-first baseman Carlos Santana in a three-way deal with Seattle and Tampa Bay.

    The Indians sent DH Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle for Santana. They then traded infielder Yandy Diaz and a player to be named to Tampa Bay for first baseman Jake Bauers. The player is reportedly minor league pitcher Cole Sulser.

    Santana played for the Indians from 2010-17. After last season he turned free agent and signed a three-year, $60 million deal with the Phillies. The Phillies recently traded him to Seattle in a trade involving Jean Segura.

    Encarnacion has played for the Indians for the last two seasons. He had one year left on a $60 million contract.

    Diaz has played parts of the last two seasons with the Indians. Bauers can play first base and the outfield.

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (7-21) will continue their homestand on Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks (18-9).

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (7-21) will continue their homestand on Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks (18-9). 

    When: 7:30 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 Bucks 108-92 on Dec. 10, 2018. 

    Cavs minute: It's the Cavs' second game against the Bucks in five days. ... The Cavs have won six straight home games over the Bucks and are 10-1 against them at The Q since Jan. 25, 2013. ... Cleveland's reserves rank seventh in the NBA in scoring, averaging 43.0 points. ... The Cavs' win on Wednesday night against New York marked the first time winning back-to-back home games this season. ... Jordan Clarkson is in the midst of a career year, averaging 16.4 points, which ranks fifth among all bench players. ... Rookie Collin Sexton scored 19 points in Wednesday's win against New York. It was his 18th straight game in double figures, the sixth-longest double-digit scoring streak by a rookie in franchise history. ... Matthew Dellavedova scored his 2,000th career point Wednesday night. He also reached double figures for the second time this season -- both games since joining the Cavs. ... Rodney Hood (497) is three 3-pointers away from reaching 500 for his career.

    Bucks minute: The Bucks were held under 100 points for just the second time this season during Wednesday's loss against Indiana. ... Milwaukee has the league's second-best record, only trailing the Toronto Raptors. ... Eric Bledsoe tallied a team-high 26 points on Wednesday. It was his fourth game scoring at least 25 points and shooting better than 60 percent, which is tied for the second-most such games among Eastern Conference players this season. ... Giannis Antetokounmpo has led the Bucks in rebounding in 23 of his 25 games played this season. He is averaging 13.1 rebounds, which ranks fifth in the NBA. ... Antetokounmpo is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists this season. ... The Bucks are tallying an NBA-high 118.1 points, which is the third-best mark in franchise history. 

    Probable starters:


    F Cedi Osman

    F Rodney Hood

    C Larry Nance Jr.

    G Alec Burks

    G Collin Sexton


    F Khris Middleton

    F Giannis Antetokounmpo

    C Brook Lopez

    G Malcolm Brogdon

    G Eric Bledsoe

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    "Just something I've got to fight through," he said following Friday's shootaround. "See if it gets better over time."

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers swingman David Nwaba said his achy right knee is "feeling a little bit better," but is not 100 percent. 

    "It's still pretty sore. Just something I've got to fight through," he said following Friday's shootaround. "See if it gets better over time."

    Nwaba returned to the lineup on Wednesday night, his first game since being shut down for more than two weeks because of continued soreness. He scored nine points in 10 minutes, as Cleveland outscored New York by 14 when he was on the court. 

    While sidelined, Nwaba continued to get treatment and tried taking it easy. When he didn't see the improvement he was hoping for, he decided to give it a go. 

    "I just felt like it was something I could still play on," Nwaba said. "I wanted to be out there. I felt like it was time to return."

    Nwaba said the timing of his comeback had nothing to do with Tristan Thompson going down or any other injury on the roster. After his first action in weeks against New York Wednesday night, the 25-year old known for his rugged defense said his knee feels close to the same.

    The positive is it doesn't feel worse after taking contact, running up and down the court and leaping for an emphatic dunk that punctuated Cleveland's 113-106 win. That moment, according to Nwaba, was an important one in clearing a mental hurdle. 

    "I think it's more just being hesitant," he said. "When it comes to the game there's a lot of adrenaline, I'm not thinking about it. But there's sometimes when I'm a bit hesitant, just try to fight through that. It's all a mental thing at this point."

    The Cavs' plan is to bring him back slowly. They've seen his importance. Given his play this season, he should remain a mainstay in head coach Larry Drew's rotation. Nwaba, who was wearing a knee brace during shootaround on Friday as a precaution, wants to use this upcoming stretch to get more comfortable -- both physically and mentally. 

    This is an important season for him. Along with how he was playing, knowing what's at stake was part of the frustration of missing nine straight games. Nwaba had just entered the lineup, given the responsibility of defending the opponent's best scorer, trying to solidify himself as a stopper. It was the opportunity he signed up for when bypassing other offers from contenders. 

    He wanted to bet on himself, inking a one-year deal in Cleveland, hoping a bigger role would help him cash in this summer when numerous teams will have money to spend in free agency. When healthy, he has showcased his ability. Now he just needs to get back to that point. 

    "It doesn't help being sidelined, but at the same time it's still a long season, 82 games," Nwaba said. "There's still a lot of time that I'll play basketball."

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    In the second quarter of Friday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Matthew Dellavedova made the kind of play that has endeared him to the fan base. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- By now you've seen the video. It's gone viral. Sorry, Fred McLeod.

    In the second quarter of Friday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Matthew Dellavedova made the kind of play that has turned him into a fan favorite, the one that makes teammate Kevin Love believe a plucky backup point guard who averages 5.9 points in his career will one day have a statue next to LeBron James outside Quicken Loans Arena.

    One that had head coach Larry Drew smiling after the game -- in part because he backpedaled to avoid disaster.

    "I feel kinda bad because I moved out of the way," Drew said, referring to Cavaliers television play-by-play man McLeod taking the brunt of the collision. "But I know he was trying to save the ball. That's who he is. That's why he's in this league, because he's still making plays like that. I don't know what the score was at that point, but it's a loose ball. I don't know many guys that would have attempted to save that ball."

    Dellavedova did and it wasn't a surprise to anyone. 

    The end result was a saved rebound that deflected off Larry Nance Jr.'s hand and nearly went out of bounds.

    The hustling Delly crashed into the broadcast table, flinging a pile of notes in the air and taking McLeod to the ground while the headseat flew off his perfectly quaffed hair. Dellavedova never though twice about throttling down and popped up quickly before getting into an offensive set that ended in a missed 3-pointer.

    Sometimes the end result doesn't matter most in these situations.

    "That's our boy," Nance said. "That's the type of thing that endears him to these fans and to us as teammates. You see him doing that and it makes me want to dive on the floor, makes J.C. (Jordan Clarkson) want to dive for loose ball just because you see your teammate giving everything they've got. We need more of that."

    In the three minutes that followed that play, the Cavs started to cut into the lead. Cleveland's bench, which was terrific on Friday night, even closed to within seven at the 5:01 mark -- one of the few times in the second quarter the Cavs actually faced a single-digit deficit.

    On this night, the Cavs couldn't keep up with the Bucks. They're too talented. Giannis Antetokounmpo was unstoppable, matching his career-high with 44 points.

    But Cleveland fought all the way to the end. For a rebuilding team, those things matter. Playing hard can't be a choice. Not this season, not with this talent level. That's why plays like the one Dellavedova made in the first half go so far.

    Dellavdova finished with just 10 points on 4-of-8 from the field. And yet, he was the topic after, pivotal in Cleveland's late-game comeback effort.

    Those are the traits Cleveland is trying to instill in some of the younger players, demanding that they find ways to impact games even when not scoring at a high clip. Impact doesn't have to be defined by the box score. 

    Drew admitted after the game that Dellavedova has brought juice to the team, an infectious energy that is starting to spread throughout the locker room.

    "When he gets into the game, the energy and the intensity goes up," Drew said. "You can not only see it, but you can feel it. I certainly can see with some of our other players how it's rubbing off, and that's a good sign. We need that second unit to be an energized unit. I know if I put guys in before him, if they're not energized, I know once he gets in the game the energy is going up and they better be ready and they better be ready to get on board.

    "It's nice having a player like that because you know night in and night out from an energy standpoint that he's going to bring it. You're not always going to make shots, I say that all the time, but you can bring energy and you can bring intensity. And I know with him he's going to bring it every single night. I definitely can see where it's starting to rub off on some of our guys."

    Dellavedova joked after the game that his shoulder is a bit sore from plowing into McLeod's "rock-hard abs" and now owes him a nice bottle of wine.

    Then, in true Dellavedova fashion, he shined a light back on the other aspects of the game. For Dellavedova, his play is going to run on loop on the highlight-type shows. That doesn't matter to him. Only the loss does.

    "Obviously wanted to get the win and we came up short tonight," he said. "Just keep working and try to get one Sunday."

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    One of the greatest shooters ever, Korver worked behind the scenes with a few Cavaliers this season. Larry Nance Jr. was one of his pupils.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Kyle Korver only spent a little more than a month with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season before getting traded to the Utah Jazz.

    That was plenty enough time to make an impact.

    It wasn't so much about what he did on the court. Korver's minutes fluctuated and he only hit double figures in scoring four times in 16 games. In terms of advanced stats, the Cavs weren't very good with him on the floor. But as was the case during much of Korver's Cleveland tenure, it was more about the little things.

    One of the greatest shooters ever, Korver worked behind the scenes with a few teammates this season. Larry Nance Jr. was one of his pupils.

    "We worked a good little bit together," Nance said Friday night. "It wasn't even so much mechanics, it was more so the mindset and confidence to step into it knowing this is a good shot for me and good shot for our team."

    Nance said he hasn't tweaked much even though he is getting more arch on his jumpers. There's only so much Korver -- or any other coach -- could do about Nance's unique form. As he said, it's a "weird little motion," with his left elbow popping out a bit. 

    "It's all about the finish," Nance said. "My finish is as good as anybody's."

    Nance is known most for his high-flying dunks and boundless energy. He rocked the rim in the third quarter Friday night against Milwaukee, as old teammate George Hill moved out of the way, unable to do anything to stop the soaring bucket. Nance has also shown off his playmaking skills, becoming one of Cleveland's best passers. Only two players are averaging more assists this season: Matthew Dellavedova and Kevin Love.

    Against the Bucks, Nance tallied a team-best six assists. It was the second straight game he has led Cleveland in that particular category. His game continues to evolve. The 3-pointer appears to be the next step.

    "Since I got in the league I've been shooting the heck out of the ball in workouts, practices and stuff like that," Nance said. "But like I said, Kyle really helped me with the mentality of shooting it in games."

    During Friday's 114-102 loss, Nance scored 14 points on 5-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. He would've had a third triple, but the shot clock expired, wiping away an important basket in the third quarter that turned into a six-point swing in favor of the Bucks.

    It's the third time in the last two weeks -- and just the fourth in his career -- Nance has made multiple 3-pointers in a game. Prior to this year, the most 3s Nance had ever made during a season was 10. He did that in 2016-17 over 63 games with the Lakers. He's already reached that mark in 26 games this season. This month alone, he has six made 3s.

    More importantly, he's shooting 41.7 percent from deep on the season and providing some needed floor-spacing on a team bereft of 3-point shooters.

    If Nance can keep delivering from deep, he will get more minutes and raise his value in a new era where more bigs are shooting from the perimeter to survive. He will also provide the Cavs with a different dimension on the offensive end.

    The 3-point shot is still a work in progress and Nance understands his primary role on the team isn't to bomb from the outside. He will leave that to the guards. But he's already started to change the coaching staff's view, taking that one-time red or yellow light and turning it green.

    "I encourage him to shoot the 3, particularly when he has his feet set," head coach Larry Drew said. "I would prefer if he could get it within the offense of what we're doing. I don't want him bringing the ball down and shooting a pull-up 3 by no means. It looks like his confidence is starting to rise with his ability to shoot the 3-point shot. He looks very comfortable, he looks very confident in shooting it, so if he gets a clean, open look and it's within our offense, I don't mind him shooting it at all."

    Thanks to Korver's advice, that hasn't been a problem. 

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    The season took a sharp turn the wrong way early, as the Cavs started 0-6 and replaced head coach Tyronn Lue with Larry Drew.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers chairman Dan Gilbert is preaching patience during a transitional season that has gotten off to a bumpier-than-expected start.

    "Our future plans are, as they've always been, commit to keep building the franchise into a perennial team that competes for a championship," Gilbert said during a wide-ranging conference call on Friday with Wine and Gold United members that dialed into. "I have no doubt that if we continue the path here that we will be competing in a shorter period of time than people think. As you build this thing for the long term, I think you are going to see something emerge here in the next couple of years that will be a core and base.

    "So take the next two, three years, including this year, and create a core, system and organization that will sustain itself in a competitive nature for maybe six, seven, eight, nine years or whatever from that point. I believe in the mission and the plan. Think we have the right people to lead it."

    After LeBron James left in free agency this summer, the Cavs knew staying near the top of the conference was unlikely. Gilbert had gone through a complete rebuild once, seeing the challenges firsthand when James bolted for Miami in 2010.

    But the organization felt they were in a better spot than eight years ago. Given that, the Cavs entered with a plan to compete, signing Kevin Love to a lucrative contract extension and keeping a few of the veterans remaining from the four-year championship run.

    The season took a sharp turn the wrong way early, as the Cavs started 0-6 and replaced head coach Tyronn Lue with Larry Drew.

    The front office has also made a few bold moves in the first few months, trading Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz and recently sending George Hill to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team trade that brought back John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova and a pair of future draft picks. JR Smith was also exiled, a move best for both parties while the Cavs continue to explore trade options.

    "I know there's been a lot of change and sometimes people don't like change," Gilbert said. "But you have to move fast and make changes in this world to get ahead.

    "I think the front office is in the best shape it's ever been. At least, in the 12 or 13 years I've been in Cleveland. You have people who are very, very smart, very dedicated. Understand metrics, understand the game, understand drafting, understand trades." 

    Gilbert says his willingness to spend money won't change even as the losses add up. The franchise will continue to "explore every possible angle," to improve the team while he provides the front office necessary resources to turn the Cavs into a winner once again.

    Gilbert also thinks there are ways for general manager Koby Altman, assistant GM Mike Gansey, Brock Aller and the rest of the staff to move salary around if needed to create more flexibility in trades, much like they already have in a pair of deals.

    Still, Gilbert admitted improvement during the season can be tough because two of the three primary avenues (free agency and the draft) happen in the summer.

    The Cavs dropped to 7-22 Friday night, the third-worst mark in the Eastern Conference. With Love sidelined until sometime after the new year and Tristan Thompson, one of the team's most productive players this season, possibly missing a month because of a sprained foot, it's sometimes hard for fans -- and players -- to stay positive.

    Gilbert said on the call he gets frustrated as well. But is excited about the young talent acquired over the last few years, singling out rookie Collin Sexton who has elevated his play since becoming a full-time starter.

    Cleveland's 3-4 mark over the last seven games is another sign of progress.

    "I know the record doesn't reflect it if you judge everything on record this year, but I really believe from a business standpoint and across the basketball operations it has the best people, more people swimming in the same direction than we've ever had," Gilbert said. "It just feels way different, way better, more optimistic (than the first time LeBron left). We feel we have more assets, more talent to trade, not necessarily to trade but more assets to deal with, options to trade if we want to or to make moves to improve the team so, that's the good news.

    "The first time we did end up making a ton of moves and being able to deliver a championship to Cleveland and a lot of that work started in those four years. I don't think it will be four years here before you start seeing significant improvement."

    The other thing that happened during that first rebuild: plenty of draft luck. The Cavs won the lottery in 2011, 2013 and 2014. But snagging Kyrie Irving first helped set the foundation.

    Speaking of Irving, Gilbert once again defended the Irving trade without actually referencing him by name and spoke about the importance of this upcoming summer.

    "When you look at this draft coming up, it would be nice to get one of those top players here," Gilbert said. "If we're in the lottery, we have a good shot to grab some talent up top."

    The Cavs have laid out their plan. It doesn't guarantee success. It's a long road back to the top. Everyone recognizes that. That's part of the reason Gilbert said season-ticket holders will see a decrease in price if they renew next season.

    "We feel they deserve a break," he said.

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    The Cavaliers (7-22) will wrap up their three-game homestand against the Philadelphia 76ers (19-11) on Sunday afternoon.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cavaliers (7-22) will wrap up their three-game homestand against the Philadelphia 76ers (19-11) on Sunday afternoon. 

    When: 3:30 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 beat the 76ers 121-112 on Nov. 23. 

    Cavs minute: Cleveland is 12-2 in its previous 14 meetings against the 76ers. ... The Cavs are 1-6 against the top five teams in the Eastern Conference (Toronto, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Boston and Indiana) this season. The lone victory came against the Sixers. ... Jordan Clarkson led the Cavs in scoring once again Friday night. ... After pouring in 23 points, Clarkson has three 20-point games in his last five contests and has reached double figures 25 times this season. ... The Cavs' bench held a 52-23 scoring edge over Milwaukee's reserves on Friday. It was the ninth time this season the bench has scored 50-plus points and the 22nd time outscoring an opponents' bench. ... The Cavs hit 13 3-pointers against Milwaukee, their 14th game with double-digit bombs. ... Larry Nance Jr. recorded his second double-double of the season Friday night, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Nance has tallied double figures in five of his last six games. ... Collin Sexton failed to reach double figures in Friday's loss, snapping a streak of 18 straight. ... Matthew Dellavedova has scored double-digits in each of his first three games since joining the Cavs. 

    76ers minute: The Sixers are 10-3 with Jimmy Butler in the lineup. Butler has missed the last two games with a strained groin. ... Joel Embiid recorded his league-leading 25th double-double with 40 points and 21 rebounds in Friday's loss against the Pacers. Embiid became the first Sixer to total at least 40 points and 20 rebounds since Charles Barkley (40 and 22) on Dec. 7, 1990. ... Philadelphia has lost two straight games. ... The Sixers will be attempting to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Jan. 28-31.

    Probable starters


    F Cedi Osman

    F Alec Burks

    C Channing Frye

    G Rodney Hood

    G Collin Sexton


    F Furkan Korkmaz

    F Wilson Chandler

    C Joel Embiid

    G JJ Redick

    G Ben Simmons

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    The change didn't work. The five starters played a significant role in Cleveland's 128-105 loss against the Philadelphia Sixers.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew changed his starting lineup once again Sunday afternoon, the 12th different group he has tried during an injury-filled season. 

    The change didn't work. The five starters played a significant role in Cleveland's 128-105 loss against the Philadelphia Sixers. 

    Tristan Thompson's foot injury combined with Joel Embiid's size led to the new quintet, with Drew believing he needed the bulk of Ante Zizic in this particular matchup. This is not the first time Drew has spoken about his concern with Larry Nance Jr. not being able to handle the bigger centers. 

    Zizic struggled, finishing with seven points and two rebounds in 17 minutes. Rodney Hood got into early foul trouble before rallying to finish with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Collin Sexton struggled defensively and cooled off after a fiery start. Sexton tallied 12 points, with just four coming in the final three quarters. Alec Burks had another forgettable night. 

    In all, the Cavs' starters were outscored 90-55. None of the five finished with a positive point differential. Not even Cedi Osman, who poured in 18 points. 

    Each time the Cavs cut into Philadelphia's lead, which happened a few different times throughout, it was the bench sparking the turnaround.

    Many teams are going to struggle against the Sixers' loaded starters. But this has become a nasty trend that could force Drew into yet another lineup change.

    Osman played well on Sunday. But the Cavs are starting to wonder whether he is more suited to come off the bench, where not nearly as much is expected of him. 

    Burks hasn't looked nearly as comfortable as a starter, failing to reach double figures in scoring for the third time in the last four games since his role changed. 

    The lack of consistent production from the starting unit once again put too much pressure on the backups.

    The reserves -- led by Jordan Clarkson, Matthew Dellavedova, Nance and David Nwaba -- helped rally the team from a sluggish start, even pushing the Cavs in front to a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter. There was another late surge to pull within four heading into the fourth quarter.

    Cleveland's bench combined for 50 points, outscoring Philadelphia's reserves by 14. But the Cavs couldn't sustain that same effort in the fourth quarter and the Sixers pulled away late. 

    Ben Simmons recorded a triple-double, scoring 22 points to go with 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Embiid, the player who forced Drew to adjust, had 24 points and nine rebounds.

    All five of Philadelphia's starters reached double figures, as the Cavs had few answers on the defensive end.

    Up next

    The Cavaliers will open a three-game road trip against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. 

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    The Cavs have urged Hood to be aggressive since the start of the season. They've demanded more from him in Kevin Love's absence.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- On Wednesday night, with 32.5 seconds left and the Cleveland Cavaliers trailing by one -- another game starting to slip through their grasp in the fourth quarter -- head coach Larry Drew could've diagrammed the play for anyone.

    Jordan Clarkson was sitting on a season-high 28 points. Those late-game pressure moments are supposed to be earmarked for rookie Collin Sexton as part of his development. Matthew Dellavedova had a chance to cap a storybook return to Cleveland with a go-ahead basket.

    Instead, Drew went to Rodney Hood.

    The Cavs recognize they don't have a predetermined closer. It's about matchups and feel. Hood had the look early, repeatedly attacking the defense on his way to a 13-point first quarter. But he cooled off as the game progressed. That's why choosing him in that moment might have had a deeper meaning, especially given what Drew said nearly two weeks ago.

    "I mean, the one thing I try to do with Rodney is be that little birdie on his shoulder and just to tell him to stay aggressive," Drew said. "When I say stay aggressive that doesn't mean always shooting the ball. That means staying in an attack mode if the defense allows you to get to the basket or get to your pull-up then so be it.

    "With the ball in his hands I always want him in attack mode and then allow his natural basketball instincts to take over. If there's help on his drive then he makes the right pass out. If he's in the post and they double then he makes the right pass out. It's about making the right play. When you're aggressive it does not mean to shoot the ball every time you touch it. It just means to be in attack mode and take what the defense gives you."

    Sometimes that takes a little nudge. The Cavs have urged Hood to be aggressive since the start of the season. They've demanded more from him in Kevin Love's absence.

    Admittedly it's not always easy for Hood to be that assertive. It's not his nature. It's a constant fight. With himself. 

    "I'm a naturally talented scorer and people take it as passiveness or stuff like that," Hood told "But I play the game the right way. Sometimes I come into the game and Collin is really aggressive or JC is really aggressive and I turn more into a playmaker and try to get the ball moving. Sometimes it's to a fault."

    Hood looks the part of an elite scorer. A 6-foot-8 wing that can fill it at all three levels, he's oozing with intrigue. According to early-season NBA stats that haven't been updated this month, Hood was playing like one of the league's best as a pick-and-roll ballhandler.

    That's where the Cavs went in that moment against New York.

    Hood took the inbounds pass and dribbled a few times near the top of the key before Larry Nance Jr. scrambled over to set a screen for him. Hood went around to his dominant left hand and then between his legs. He darted right of the key, stopped, spun back to his left and drained a left-handed runner over the smaller Frank Nkilitina.

    It was a confident, aggressive move without any hint of hesitation.

    If your next question is, "Why doesn't Hood do that more often?" you aren't alone. Members of the organization sometimes have the same thoughts.

    "I'm not a gunner," Hood told "I think it's not great for our team for me to be a gunner. We have a lot of guys who can score the ball. ... When I draw attention (I'll) make the dump-off pass and make the right play. ... Some nights we hit shots and it's great and some nights we don't hit shots and it's like, 'You need to shoot the ball more.'

    "Just figuring it out. Trying to figure out the even balance of being real aggressive and making plays like I've been trying to do."

    On the season, Hood is averaging 13.0 points -- the fourth-highest mark on the team -- on 44.4 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc. His numbers are up across the board compared to his 21-game stint with the Cavaliers last season, but still way down from what he was doing in Utah in the first half of the 2017-18 campaign when he seemed to be morphing into a legitimate second scoring option.

    That's what the Cavs were hoping he would become this season. Before head coach Tyronn Lue's firing, that's the label he kept using.

    This seems to be the ideal situation for Hood to be a little more selfish. The Cavs have been without All-Star Love since the fourth game. Tristan Thompson is now sidelined for possibly a month and the Cavs will need to replace his scoring production. Someone needs to score. Someone needs to create.

    Hood turned down a three-year deal worth around $20 million with the Cavs this past off-season. He chose to bet on himself, entering into an extremely important contract year with teams all over the NBA looking for guys with his skill set.

    Through the first month-plus of the season, Hood ranks tied for fourth on the team in shot attempts, taking just 10.7 per game -- the fewest since his rookie year and a number probably too low given Cleveland's needs. He's fifth in usage.

    Hood's talent is undeniable and flashes like Wednesday night against New York only add to the appeal. But when he starts to drift in and out of the offense while sometimes appearing passive, it can lead to a reputation -- as the guy who leaves teams wanting more. 

    Finding his balance continues to be an internal battle. 

    "I think this year has been exciting for me, it's been good," Hood said. "I've been great in spurts and there are other times where I've still been trying to figure it out."

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (7-23) will open a three-game road trip against the Indiana Pacers (20-10) on Tuesday night.

    INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (7-23) will open a three-game road trip against the Indiana Pacers (20-10) on Tuesday night. 

    When: 7 p.m.

    Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse

    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 Pacers 119-107 on Oct. 27 -- the final game with Tyronn Lue. 

    Cavs minute: Head coach Larry Drew used his 12th starting lineup during Sunday's loss against Philadelphia. The five starters were outscored 90-55. ... Cleveland received 50 points from its bench on Sunday against Philadelphia, the fourth consecutive game with 50-plus points from the reserves. That matches a franchise record established from Dec. 17, 1991 to Dec. 21, 1991. ... The Cavs dished out a season-high 28 assists on 41 made field goals versus the Sixers. ... Cedi Osman had a team-high tying 18 points in 35 minutes of action against the Sixers. Osman has scored in double figures in 16 games this season. ... Larry Nance Jr. recorded his first double-double of the season in the first matchup against Indiana. ... The Cavs will be without Tristan Thompson, who is set to miss his fourth consecutive game with a left foot sprain. 

    Pacers minute: The Pacers have won seven straight, in which they are holding opponents to 97.4 points per 100 possessions. ... Victor Oladipo recently returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for 11 games. Oladipo had his best game since his return on Sunday, scoring 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers. ... Bojan Bogdanovic leads the NBA in 3-point percentage, hitting 50 percent from deep. He has tallied double figures in each of the last 20 games, which is the longest streak in his NBA career. ... Thaddeus Young is one of eight active players to record 11,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 1,000 assists and 1,000 steals. ... Myles Turner ranks third in the NBA with a career-high 2.75 blocks per game. ... Indiana is 13-3 against Eastern Conference opponents this season, including a 7-1 record at home. 

    Probable starters:


    F Cedi Osman

    F Rodney Hood

    C Larry Nance Jr.

    G Alec Burks or David Nwaba

    G Collin Sexton


    F Thaddeus Young

    F Bojan Bogdanovic

    C Myles Turner

    G Victor Oladipo

    G Darren Collison

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