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    James scored 18 straight in the fourth quarter to put the game away. He left the game in the third quarter after receiving a facial cut.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cavaliers medical professionals stitched LeBron James' face and then he sewed up the game.

    James scored 23 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and the Cavs outlasted the Brooklyn Nets, 119-109, on Wednesday night. He piled up an astounding 18 points in a row with his team clinging to a one-point lead with 4:25 remaining.

    James, who became the 26th player in league history with 1,500 3-pointers for his career, left the game with 9:30 to go in the third quarter because of a facial laceration. It took about five minutes to stitch him up, and when he returned his team trailed by seven.

    Clearly, James was seeing red, behind the blood pooling in his mouth. Now, he and his teammates are looking at a six-game winning streak.

    "You can't force it, you've got to let it come to you," James said. "It's times when you wish you can do it and some times when the ball just doesn't go in. But I put a lot of work into my craft and I believe that every shot I take is going to go in.

    "But without my teammates setting screens and defending, getting the rebounds, cutting, and things of that nature, then none of that is even possible for me, so, they get the most credit."

    Kevin Love added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Dwyane Wade scored 18 points with five assists and three rebounds off the bench. Jae Crowder scored 14 and Kyle Korver contributed 12.

    The Cavs, who, you may remember, have the Nets' No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, avenged a 112-107 loss from Oct. 25 that started a four-game losing streak.

    James saw to that. He entered play leading the NBA with an average of 9.1 points in the fourth quarter and, yeah, he built on that.

    "My team looks at me to be that scorer now," James said. "The last couple years, Kyrie (Irving) obviously being as great as he was in the fourth quarter, we kind of pick our games. There was games half the time that he had it going and, 'hey, go get.' There was games half the time where I had it going and I'd go get it.

    "But right now my teammates look at me and they're like, OK, like this is your quarter you've done this your whole career," James continued. "Let's try to make some things happen and it's very important that I try to come through for them."

    The Cavs were ahead 100-99 when he toed the foul line with 4:25 left. He sunk both free throws, followed with a putback on a Wade miss, and converted a layup with 3:27 remaining for a 106-101 advantage. His stepback 3 with 1:51 put the Cavs ahead by eight, and he closed his personal run with another 3-pointer (his fourth of the night) with 55.6 seconds to go.

    James appeared to cut his mouth after contact with Tyler Zeller under Brooklyn's basket. He had just eight points at the time of the injury.

    James finished with six rebounds and five assists and shot 11-of-17 from the field, but it was kind of a rough night. He bricked a dunk with 3:39 left in the first quarter, and it was a doozy. James stepped in front of a Carl LeVert pass and no one in front of him. James took his time as he went to the rim to prepare for his coming acrobatics, and may have jumped too early. He banged it off the rim.

    The Cavs were ahead 18-10 at the time, and by 10:44 of the second quarter were trailing 23-20. It was 46-45 Brooklyn at halftime. Starting with the dunk try, James missed his last five shots of the half and was 3-of-8. Love was 2-of-9 from the field.

    "I told him at halftime you messing around," coach Tyronn Lue said. "He got a little upset and that's good. Get hit again. ... He scored 23 in the fourth and we needed every bit of it."  

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson paced the Nets with 20 points. Former Cavalier Joe Harris finished with 18 points off the bench and four 3-pointers, but missed both of his 3-point tries in the fourth quarter.

    The Cavs coughed up 17 3s against Brooklyn last month and 14 more on Wednesday. Since losing to the Nets, the Cavs are 8-2. They've won seven of eight.

    "This is a different team than we played the first time, that's for sure," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said.

    NEXT: The Cavs host the Charlotte Hornets at 8 p.m. Friday. Fans are asked to wear black in honor of the Black Friday shopping holiday.

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    The Milwaukee Admirals avenged a pair of weekend losses by defeating the visiting Cleveland Monsters in a shootout Wednesday, 3-2.

    MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin -- Bobby Butler scored in the third round of a shootout to lift the Milwaukee Admirals to a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Monsters in an American Hockey League game Wednesday at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

    Butler beat Monster goalie Brad Thiessen after he had stopped Milwaukee's first two shots. Milwaukee goalie Anders Lindback stopped Cleveland's Zac Dalpe, Paul Bittner and Carter Camper to secure the win.

    The Monsters, who won two straight against Milwaukee over the weekend in Cleveland, now stand 7-4-2-2 on the season, while the Admirals are 9-7-0-0.

    The Admirals jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Harry Zolnierczyk at 10:18 and Butler at 14:46. It was a team-leading sixth goal for each player.

    Joe Pendenza got the Monsters on the board with his fourth goal of the season at 6:40 of the second period.

    Alex Broadhurst tied it a 2-2 with his second goal of the season at 15:26 of the third, forcing the overtime.

    Broadhurst had an assist on Pendenza's goal.

    The Monsters had a 38-16 edge in shots on goal in regulation, then Milwaukee had a 4-3 edge in the five-minute overtime session.

    Thiessen stopped 18 of 20 shots for the Monsters in falling to 4-1-3. Lindback finished with 39 saves to improve to 9-3-0.

    Roster moves: The Columbus Blue Jackets assigned Gabriel Carlsson and Matiss Kivlenieks back to Cleveland earlier this week. ... The Monsters' Cameron Gaunce served the first of a three-game suspension for a boarding incident against Milwaukee on Saturday.

    Up next: The Monsters are home to the Texas Stars on Friday at 1 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. ... Cleveland will then travel to Manitoba to face the Moose on Thursday and Saturday, both games at 8 p.m.


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    Tyronn Lue had already yelled at LeBron James to play better before Tyler Zeller head butted hm in the mouth. Then James scored 23 in the fourth quarter and 18 in a row. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Raise your hand if your were happy LeBron James was hit in the mouth Wednesday night.

    Ty Lue? Is that you?

    "Good," he said.



    Umm, have you lost your mind?

    "He was messing around," Lue said. "I told him at halftime you messing around. He got a little upset and that's good. Get hit again."

    The huge, can't miss, elephant-in-the-room takeaway from the Cavaliers' 119-109 win over the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday was that LeBron James scored 23 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, including eight straight in a crucial, four-minute stretch that began with the Cavs ahead by a point.

    The 23 points were the second most in a quarter of James' career, and the 18 consecutive points were the most he's scored in a row in the fourth quarter, according to Elias Sports.

    In the third quarter, James was head butted by Tyler Zeller as James stole the ball from him. He was cut and bleeding, and came out of the game with 9:30 left to go get stitches.

    But even before Zeller drew blood, James was already reeling a bit from a talking to delivered by Lue at halftime. James had eight points on 3-of-8 shooting through two quarters, and seemingly the entire team slipped on a banana peel after James bricked a dunk in the first quarter.

    "He'll get mad like 'I'm not messing,'" Lue said. "But I didn't say messing around."

    Lue famously challenged James like this at halftime of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals. He was incensed, but, as you may recall, responded and the Cavs were crowned champs.

    This is only the latest example, as Lue continues to push James during a season in which he's putting up near career-high numbers on offense. They've had a few exchanges this season.

    Lue declined to explain how James was...well...whatever word Lue actually used in the locker room on Wednesday night. But James said it what he did after blowing the dunk.

    First, on that missed dunk attempt, he stole a pass from Car LeVert and clanged it off the rim after slowing up to get his timing right for some acrobatics. That was at 3:39.

    Then, James fired up a bad 3-point shot that missed. Then another. Lue called timeout.

    It was 18-10 Cavs when James blew the dunk, and the Nets were ahead 23-20 by the 11:11 mark in the second quarter.

    "Whatever T Lue say goes, so, you know, he knows how to challenge me sometimes," James said. "After the dunk, I came and pulled up for a 3, that was a bad shot. But they felt like the other one in the corner was a bad shot, against their big, and called a timeout after that point and kind of took the life out of the team.

    "So, I know it starts and ends with me, so, I gotta be better, which I was in the second half."

    Yes, better. In the fourth quarter, James was 7-of-8 from the field with three 3s and was 6-of-7 from the foul line. He also contributed two assists. Like garnishments on a turkey platter.

    "Sometimes we have to pick him up," said Dwyane Wade, who scored 18 off the bench. "He's so great and everyone is expecting him to be great every minute, but sometimes we have to do a job of picking him up and giving him a chance of getting into the game. I thought in the second half we were able to do that as we made our run and he just took over from there."

    Yes, yes he did.

    "LeBron really took over. There's no other way to put it," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said.

    "He scored 23 in the fourth and we needed every bit of it," Lue added.

    Kick James in the pants, and smack him in the mouth. See what happens?

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    Letting the opponent surge with LeBron James sidelined was a problem in past seasons, but Wade has made a concerted effort to change that.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue was noncommittal when asked about Dwyane Wade keeping the role of second-unit anchor when the team finally gets to full strength.

    But the answer wasn't needed. Wade has earned that job.

    "I enjoy it. I think we all do," Wade said following the Cavs' 119-109 win against the Brooklyn Nets. "In that second unit we stay talking. When we're on the bench our whole job is to, you know, come in and make a positive impact on the game and if we're down we're out there talking about what we need to do to help us get back. If we're up we're able to talk about what we need to do to extend. It's about getting stops in that unit. If we get stops then we can just play freely."

    In the first half, the Nets outscored the Cavs by six points during the minutes with the second unit on the court, something Wade lamented following the game.

    It wasn't the group's most productive night. That frustration shows how seriously he takes the new responsibility. Letting the opponent surge with LeBron James sidelined was a problem in past seasons, but Wade has made a concerted effort to change that.

    He shouldered more of the offensive load early in the third quarter after James went to the locker room to get stitches just above his upper lip after bumping into Tyler Zeller.

    At that time, the Cavs trailed by three points and James was having a quiet night -- by his standards. When he came back, the Cavs were still in a hole, only it was manageable.

    "I thought we did a good job," Wade said. "Definitely always try to be a positive so we definitely played better in the second half and we had to. But when he went out and got the stitch we had to continue to stay aggressive, continue to make the push and when he came back in we continued to do that until it became a one-possession game and each time down the floor we gave it to our best player, the best player on the floor, and that's what he was."

    James finished with 33 points, including 23 in a masterful fourth quarter, increasing his league-leading scoring average to 10.0 points in the final period.

    As Wade said, when the Cavs needed him most, James morphed into superman. But every super hero needs a sidekick. Even at 35 years old, late in his career, Wade has shown there's still some "Flash" in his game.

    And each night, he looks more comfortable in this new sixth man role, one he requested after early-season struggles as a starter.

    "Him being (on) the second unit, being able to control that second unit, be aggressive and we run everything through him," Lue said. "That gets him in a better rhythm. I think he understands it and he enjoys it."

    In three games as a starter, Wade was averaging 5.6 points on 28 percent from the field to go with 3.3 assists and 2.7 turnovers. He looked old and out of place on a team with title aspirations, as opponents outscored the Cavs by two points with him on the floor.

    Since being moved to the bench, Wade has flourished. He's averaging 11.1 points on 44.8 percent from the field to go with 4.1 assists and 1.9 turnovers. He has a plus-minus of 4.2.

    "He's been big," Love said of Wade's growth. "Tonight in particular, especially when 'Bron was out, he gave us everything. And he got to the basket quite a bit. Got us into the offense. Was finding guys miss or make. And he's done a good job of that. He's been much more vocal now that he's got really comfortable in his role."

    With the ball in his hands, Wade can be more of an offensive focal point, the way he's been used throughout his Hall-of-Fame career. Earlier this season, he called himself a rhythm player. Being with the starters kept him from finding that. With James, Love and Jae Crowder, the shot attempts weren't available and instead of being the primary or secondary option, Wade was third or fourth in the pecking order.

    That isn't a problem anymore.

    Playing alongside sharpshooter Kyle Korver and stretchy Channing Frye, the court is spread, allowing Wade to ferociously attack the hoop, scoring around the rim like his prime years or getting to the foul line. He can also get teammates involved, a necessity given how many specialists dot the second unit.

    It's just a better fit, accentuating Wade's strengths, and giving the Cavs the second-unit playmaker they've missed since Matthew Dellavedova's departure.

    Early this season, Wade was searching. He was wondering about his role. He wasn't himself. Now he's showing the leadership and high basketball IQ the Cavs raved about when he signed.

    "He's one of those guys, he's always talking, he's always talking the game, he does a great job," Korver said. "He's had to read defenses for so many years, now people are guarding him. He's really passing that on to everybody. He's really seeing what's there and he's relaying it in a good way. You can just yell at everybody and tell everybody what to do or you can...he's done a really good job just talking to everybody. He's added to this group in a lot of ways, but that's definitely one of them."

    Wade can still fill it up too. He scored 18 points on 8-of-13 from the field against the Nets. It's the seventh time he's hit double figures. He also added a team-high five assists and four rebounds.

    After a rocky start, Wade's found his place as leader of Cleveland's revamped second unit, a group he's helped become one of the league's best.

    "It's a fun unit for us and I think it's going to be a very important unit for us as we get deep into the season and in the playoffs," Wade said. "That's the reason I wanted to come here and be a part of it."

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    Ohio State's players hosted local law enforcement and children on Wednesday for a meal and a special event to unify the community of Central Ohio.

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    Ohio State plays Gonzaga to open PK80 play in Portland, Ore. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State basketball goes on the road for the first time this season for the PK80 Phil Knight Invitational Thursday to Sunday in Portland, Ore. Here's everything you need to know about the first matchup with Gonzaga on Thursday night:


    Who: Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) vs. No. 17 Gonzaga Bulldogs (3-0).

    When: Friday, 12 a.m. ET (Tip is scheduled for 9 p.m. PT Thursday night).

    Where: Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Portland, Ore.).

    TV: ESPN2, with Doug Sherman and Dan Dakich on the call.

    * Full PK80 Brackets


    Ohio State: G C.J. Jackson (6-1, Jr., 11.0 ppg); G Musa Jallow (6-5, Fr., 6.8 ppg); F Keita Bates-Diop (6-7, Jr., 19.3 ppg); F Jae'Sean Tate (6-4, Sr., 15.3 ppg); C Micah Potter (6-9, Soph., 8.8 ppg).

    Gonzaga: G Silas Melson (6-4, Sr., 11.7 ppg); G Josh Perkins (6-3, Jr., 13.3 ppg); G Corey Kispert (6-6, Fr., 11.7 ppg); F Jonathan Williams (6-9, Sr., 11.0 ppg); F Killian Tillie (6-10, Soph., 12.3 ppg).


    * Full Ohio State stats

    The Buckeyes get their first real test under new head Coach Chris Holtmann after winning by double-digits in each of their first four contests. Ohio State will play three games in four days while out in Portland ... Ohio State was up 41-12 at one point of its 80-5 win over Northeastern last Sunday ... This will be the second-ever meeting between Ohio State and Gonzaga. The Buckeyes won the first one, 73-67, in the 2012 NCAA Tournament ... Portland is the site of the Buckeyes last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015 ... The Buckeyes faced some turnover trouble in the first two games of the season, but have seen that number come down every game. Ohio State is No. 124 in the country in turnover percentage (18.1 percent) ... Ohio State is among the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, ranked No. 28 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage ... Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop had a three-game double-double streak snapped in the win over Northeastern, but still finished with 19 points and seven rebounds ... Senior forward Jae'Sean Tate set a program record by going 10 for 10 from the field against Northeastern ... Sophomore center Micah Potter suffered an ankle sprain against Northeastern, but is expected to play against Gonzaga ... Ohio State shoots just 28.4 percent from the 3-point line, among the worst marks in the country ... The Buckeyes overall are ranked No. 67 in the KenPom ratings.


    * Full Gonzaga stats

    Gonzaga is 3-0 with wins over Texas Southern, Howard and Utah State ... The Bulldogs will present the most physical test the Buckeyes have seen to date. Gonzaga is No. 7 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage (43 percent), and No. 2 in the country in block percentage (2.3 percent) ... Senior forward Jonathan Williams gets to the free throw line at a high rate, 9.2 times per 40 minutes (No. 21 in the country) ... Junior guard Josh Perkins is shooting 45.8 percent on 3-point attempts, while taking eight attempts per game from deep ... Sophomore forward Killian Tillie averages 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game ... Gonzaga reached the National Championship last year, where it lost to North Carolina (the Buckeyes will also play UNC this year). Perkins and Williams are the only returning starters from last year's team ... Gonzaga is ranked No. 24 in KenPom, the first top-100 team Ohio State has faced this year.


    Ohio State basketball links from the past few days:

    * Five thoughts on Ohio State basketball now that the schedule turns brutal

    * Musa Jallow looking like the cornerstone the Buckeyes didn't know they had


    Bill's pick: Gonzaga 69, Ohio State 61. Even when they were struggling over the past two years, Ohio State usually showed up for these kind of games. Remember the upset of Kentucky two years ago? Right now I think the Buckeyes could leave Portland with two wins, but I'm not sure this is it. Gonzaga is a physical team, and I'm not sure how a young Kaleb Wesson and a banged-up Micah Potter handle that front line.

    If Keita Bates-Diop goes off, all bets are off and the Buckeyes can win. That's going to be the case most nights I think. Ohio State had a length and physicality advantage in its first four games. That changes now. I'm mostly interested in seeing how composed a player like C.J. Jackson is against some tough guards. We can learn a lot about Ohio State in this game, even if it's a loss.

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    Check out the tripleheader on Thanksgiving with Minnesota at Detroit, L.A. Chargers at Dallas and N.Y. Giants at Washington.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Minnesota Vikings at the Detroit Lions is clearly the best game scheduled for Thanksgiving Day.

    The Vikings and Lions kick off at 12:30 p.m. on FOX followed by the L.A. Chargers at the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 om CBS and at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, the New York Giants at Washington.

    The Vikings (8-2) are one of the hottest teams in the NFL with six straight wins. The offense averages 24.1 points and 372.5 total yards per game and the defense holds opponents to 17.2 points per game.

    The Vikings hold a two-game lead over NFC North rival Lions (6-4), who are in second place in the division. But the Lions are also on a roll. The Lions have won three straight and average 27.1 points and allow 23.4 per game.

    In the later games, the Cowboys will try to regroup from last week's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys host a Chargers team that blew out the Buffalo Bills by 30.

    Washington will face a New York Giants squad that won its second game of the season in a snooze fest over the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Below is the complete Week 12 schedule and TV (all times Eastern). You can get live scores along with previews and updates from all the games all weekend on our NFL Scoreboard.

    WEEK 12 SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)


    Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m., FOX
    L.A. Chargers at Dallas, 4:30 p.m., CBS
    N.Y. Giants at Washington, 8:30 p.m., NBC


    Buffalo at Kansas City, 1 p.m., CBS
    Tennessee at Indianapolis, 1 p.m., FOX
    Cleveland at Cincinnati, 1 p.m., CBS
    Tampa Bay at Atlanta, 1 p.m., FOX
    Miami at New England, 1 p.m., CBS
    Chicago at Philadelphia, 1 p.m., FOX
    Carolina at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m., FOX
    Seattle at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m., FOX
    New Orleans at L.A. Rams, 4:25 p.m., CBS
    Jacksonville at Arizona, 4:25 p.m., CBS
    Denver at Oakland, 4:25 p.m., CBS
    Green Bay at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m., NBC


    Houston at Baltimore, 8:35 p.m., ESPN

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    Those of us in the writing business should never forgot there is no "us" without you -- the readers. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- "Are you going to write that same Thanksgiving Day column again?"

    Someone recently asked me that question. My sense was he thought it wasn't the most original idea.

    I've been writing a "Thank You" column to readers since 2007, when I returned to The Plain Dealer.

    I probably did the same for about 10 years before that when I was at the Akron Beacon Journal.

    But here's the answer ... You better believe I plan to thank the readers.

    More this year than ever ... because you have so many more choices beyond The Plain Dealer and

    I still believe the best overall coverage of Northeast Ohio comes from us. I write that knowing we have our weaknesses and issues.

    But I also know our readers are patient with us, and we are grateful for that.

    While so many people read me online, I still consider myself a newspaper guy.

    I still get two papers delivered to my home. On the days when The Plain Dealer doesn't deliver, my wife Roberta stops at the store and buys a copy.

    She loves the comics and the food section.


    She also does the first read/edit on many of my stories, Lord bless her soul!

    In fact, when she's not available, I write a little warning to my boss: "No Roberta on this one."

    That means ... look out ... here come the typos!!!

    I was sitting at a small press table after a Cavs playoff game last year. I had emailed Roberta my game column. She read it, called me back and was giving me the corrections.

    A couple of younger writers looked strangely at the entire process.

    I told them, "Roberta has been reading my garbage longer than you guys have been alive!"

    That also includes all 31 books.

    We've been married 40 years. She started helping me with my writing not long after we met ... and that will be 44 years ago in January.

    And she recently just celebrated her 31st birthday!

    Hint: Guys, that's how you compliment that person who has been running life's marathon with you!


    Without you, there is no us ... as in us at The Plain Dealer and

    My first job was helping my mother, Mary Pluto, when she worked at Parmatown Lanes. She had me cleaning the bowling shoes when they were returned. You don't want to know the details...

    I worked at the old Fazio's Warehouse, where my father rose from unloading trucks to running the place.

    I used to watch the warehouse guys read The Plain Dealer, talking about what Hal Lebovitz, Chuck Heaton, Dan Coughlin and others wrote about.

    I'd think, "If I could make a living with a typewriter..."

    Yes, it was that long ago. I also took the stagecoach to work.

    The reason I'm still around is you ... who keep reading me and the rest of us.

    Yes, even the guy who wrote, "How can you keep drawing a paycheck?"

    So yes, this is another Thanksgiving column to the readers.

    You deserve it, more than once a year.

    PS: If there are any mistakes in this column, it's not Roberta's fault. I hid it from her because I didn't want her to know she would be in the paper. She'd edit that part out!

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    During James' masterful fourth quarter, there were a trio of 3-pointers, including two lethal step-backs, and six free throws -- areas that used to be weak spots for James. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers could see the look in LeBron James' eyes.

    For Love, the next step was clear.

    "Sometimes it's being aggressive and picking your spots and other times it's, 'Get the hell out of the way,'" Love said.

    On Wednesday night it was the latter. Sure, James has shown that look before. He rescued the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter on Opening Night, keeping old teammate Kyrie Irving from celebrating a signature win. He buried the Washington Wizards with a 57-point performance in early November. He spearheaded Cleveland's second-half surge against the Charlotte Hornets, punctuating a win to finish the four-game road trip.

    Fourth quarter dominance has been his calling card, as James leads the league in scoring, averaging 10.0 points in the quarter.

    Still, this was different. James scored 23 points in the final period, including 18 straight. According to Elias Sports, it's the most consecutive points he's scored in the fourth quarter in his career.

    It wasn't just the 23 points that had his teammates running out of superlatives. It wasn't that he shook off a nasty head butt from Tyler Zeller, which led to James getting an undisclosed amount of stitches above his upper lip during the third quarter. Or that he outscored the Nets by himself during that dazzling stretch of 18 straight. It wasn't even that he rebounded from a sluggish start where it appeared his streak of consecutive double-figure scoring games was in slight jeopardy.

    No, on Wednesday, it was how he shredded the Nets. Believe it or not, James found a new way to impress his teammates, including Kyle Korver.

    "My man has worked his way into being a real shooter. Like, for real. He can really shoot," Korver said. "His fundamentals, he has worked on it, in this last year that I've been here. His shot is really, really good."

    That's high praise coming from one the best shooters in NBA history. And Korver would know.

    On gameday, following each morning shootaround, Korver is part of James' customary shooting group along with J.R. Smith, Cedi Osman and Channing Frye.

    The four players go all around the court, hoisting a variety of shots. There are standstill 3-pointers, off-the dribble triple tries, pump-fakes that end with pull-up jumpers and off-balance heaves. They even mix in some bank shots at tough angles. The foursome starts at one corner and finishes at the other, going to both wings and the top of the key where each player is required to make a certain number before the next gets to fire.

    "You can tell he thinks about it, he studies the game, he studies his own mechanics, he puts in a ton of time and he's confident shooting that shot," Korver said. "He's doing a good job of mixing it up, when to attack the basket and when to shoot it. He knows when his shot's going to be there and when he needs us to take it. It looks really, really great to me and I watch these things. He's worked hard and it's showing."

    During James' masterful fourth quarter, there were a trio of 3-pointers, including two lethal step-backs, and six made free throws -- areas that used to be weak spots for James.

    Remember some of those NBA Finals when opponents would sag off him in isolation, almost daring him to settle for outside jumpers, believing he couldn't make them pay? Or when opponents would go under screens to keep him from plowing his way into the paint? How about when he would get sent to the stripe late in games, testing his shaky free-throw stroke?

    The Nets were helpless Wednesday night. 

    "LeBron really took over. There's no other way to put it. We didn't ever find a solution to stop him in the fourth quarter," Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson said. "We were trying different stuff. I guess we could have trapped him but he's such a great passer we didn't want to give up 3s. You've got to give him a lot of credit."

    This season he is shooting 58.5 percent from the field, 42.7 percent from beyond the arc and 78.2 percent from the foul line -- all career-bests. 

    These are his advanced shooting numbers: 78.3 percent in the restricted area, 42.9 percent on mid-range jumpers, 45.2 percent on above the break 3's, 42.3 percent on fadeaways and 55.6 percent on pull-up jumpers.

    It all stems from plenty of hard work -- and an important adjustment.

    As he told recently, James altered his shooting stroke this summer after his right elbow mysteriously swelled to the size of a tennis ball for a few weeks after the NBA Finals. But James doesn't take time off. Not even in the off-season. So instead, he made changes, ending his shot with a higher release point in order to minimize discomfort. And he's stayed with the new motion.

    Korver, who once dealt with something similar, said his elbow injury led to positive results as well.

    "If you shoot it just a little bit wrong, it hurts. So you've got to shoot it perfect for it not to hurt," Korver said. "Just the little things that you don't really think about unless you're dealing with an injury. When you're dealing with an injury you start thinking, 'It has to be perfect,' the details of your shot. In some weird way it probably helped him. But whatever he did, it looks great."

    Korver said James looks more compact and his shot looks stronger, two things he has mentioned to James before. And it's certainly tough to argue with the results.

    During James' 23-point outburst in the fourth quarter, he made 7-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range.

    "My team looks at me to be that scorer now," James said of his approach during crunchtime. "The last couple years, Kyrie obviously being as great as he was in the fourth quarter, we kind of pick our games. There was games half the time that he had it going and, 'Hey, go get it.' There was games half the time where I had it going and I'd go get it.

    "Right now my teammates look at me and they're like, 'OK, like this is your quarter you've done this your whole career. Let's try to make some things happen.' It's very important that I try to come through for them."

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    The matchup between Ohio State's Parris Campbell and Michigan's Khaleke Hudson is another one that could help decide the game.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Every day leading up to Saturday, we're looking at one of five key positional matchups for Ohio State vs. Michigan. We'll take a closer look at the players, how the opposing teams plan to stop them, and who will have the biggest impact in The Game.

    Today's matchup

    Ohio State H-back Parris Campbell vs. Michigan DB Khaleke Hudson

    The skinny: It's all about versatility with today's matchup.

    Campbell can do a little of everything and line up just about anywhere on Ohio State's offense. He is a guy who can take a simple bubble screen or crossing route and turn it into a massive play.

    Hudson has taken the role of viper in Michigan's defense, which Jabrill Peppers did last year for defensive coordinator Don Brown. The viper is essentially a safety that can do anything on any play, whether it be coverage, blitzes or run stopping.

    Fans can expect these two getting involved in the game in multiple ways.

    Campbell's 2017 stats: 35 receptions, 518 yards (14.8 avg.), 2 TDs, 6 carries, 95 yards (15.8 avg.), 1 TD, 9 kickoff returns, 329 yards (36.6 avg.).

    Hudson's 2017 stats: 67 tackles, 16 TFLs, 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, 6 pass breakups.

    What Campbell has done against Michigan: He did not play in last year's game vs. Michigan. Campbell played against the Wolverines in 2015, but did not record a statistic.

    What Hudson has done against Ohio State: Hudson took snaps on special teams vs. Ohio State, but did not record a stat.

    How Campbell can impact Michigan's defense: Campbell was banged up in the middle of the season, catching just one pass in the comeback win vs. Penn State.

    But he looks much healthier in the last two games.

    When healthy, Campbell can do this: take a short pass and turn it into a massive gain like he did vs. Indiana.

    Campbell has not returned kicks since coming back vs. Michigan State. So Ohio State has to find other ways to get him the football.

    They have run bubble screens to him throughout the season as well as short routes up the field.

    Here's another option, as he gained 44 yards on this reverse vs. Illinois.

    Even though the move faked out the cameraman for a bit, Campbell showed what makes him so dangerous. He is fast and fluid and knows how to get into open space quickly. That makes him the rare player who can turn a short play into a big gain, and that is a very dangerous thing.

    How Hudson can impact Ohio State's offense: Hudson had big shoes to fill, stepping into the viper role previously held by Jabrill Peppers.

    It's so hard to live up to the standard of Peppers. But he has held his own.

    Sixteen tackles of loss for a safety is a staggering number.

    Hudson had a special game earlier this season against Minnesota. He had 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble, which came on this chasedown sack against Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft.

    Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown can move Hudson all around the defense and put him anywhere.

    Here's another good play where he runs downhill at Minnesota running back Rodney Smith, who tries to make a move against him. Hudson is too strong for this move and still brings him down while leaning in the other direction.

    He also has a pair of interceptions this season, so he is very capable in pass defense as well. But Hudson is an attacker on defense and, like Devin Bush, plays great when going downhill.

    Vote: Who will have a bigger impact on The Game?

    Other matchups

    * J.K. Dobbins vs. Devin Bush

    * Denzel Ward vs. Donovan Peoples-Jones

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    In what amounts to another bye, the New England Patriots face the Miami Dolphins at home as part of NFL Week 12.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Washington Redskins, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals will be among winners against the spread in NFL Week 12. At least that is how I see it (for entertainment purposes only, of course).

    On Thursday, the Redskins play host to the New York Giants. On Sunday, the Patriots entertain the Miami Dolphins and the Bengals play host to the Cleveland Browns.

    In this space, I decline to take the easy route when picking ATS. I pick all of the games, even when I don't have a good feel for some. At the same time, I am realistic. I think batting .500 ATS -- as opposed to straight-up -- is an accomplishment, and I make no guarantees. (And don't yell at me too loudly when I have a bad week(s) because, after all, this is for EPO. We are playing with Monopoly money and Get Out Of Jail Free cards. Thank goodness for that.)

    I have researched each team/matchup, but the plan is to rely more on gut than anything else this season. 

    For continuity's sake, each week I will use the MGM Mirage lines from as of late Wednesday afternoon unless noted. Games are listed as I came upon them, not by order of certainty. I do not adjust picks even if injuries occur and/or lines change between Wednesday afternoon and Sunday. (Such an approach has cost me more victories than it has saved.) At the same time, I have given myself license to change picks for my best "bets'' video Sunday based on updated info; in those rare instances, the original full slate of picks will not change.

    I am picking NFL ATS for the third straight season.

    • In 2015, I went 122-127-7 in the regular season and 4-6-1 in the postseason.
    • In 2016, I went 130-118-8 in the regular season and 9-2 in the postseason.


    • Week 1: 6-9
    • Week 2: 9-7
    • Week 3: 7-9
    • Week 4: 6-10
    • Week 5: 7-6-1
    • Week 6: 5-9
    • Week 7: 6-7-2
    • Week 8: 6-7
    • Week 9: 4-8-1
    • Week 10: 5-9
    • Week 11: 6-7-1

    Week 11 recap: For as difficult as picking all NFL games ATS can be, I never imagined six straight sub-.500 weeks. It is utterly ridiculous. I could write four volumes on the crazy stuff that has happened to my teams this season.

    I should have been 7-6-1. Once again, the Browns cost me. (I know, I know: I continue to fall for the banana in the tailpipe, so I got what I deserved.)

    I had the @ Browns (+8) over Jacksonville. Browns trailed by three and had possession midway through the fourth quarter. DeShone Kizer threw an interception.

    Browns trailed by six with 1:14 left. On first-and-10 from the Browns 20, Kizer was drilled from behind and fumbled into the end zone. Jaguars recovered for a 12-point lead. I still had a chance, though.

    Browns trailed by 12 but had 1st-and-10 @ Jaguars 27 with 37 seconds left. Kizer was going to deliver me a fabulous backdoor cover....until INC, INC, COMP for 5 YDS, INC. Jaguars won, 19-7.

    Nonetheless, I am thankful. I am thankful to be living in a city with an NFL franchise.

    Week 12

    Here are the predictions for NFL Week 12, with winner (against spread, not always outright) listed first:


    @ Detroit (+3) over Minnesota

    Skinny: I typically like the Lions at home on Thanksgiving -- but not enough for the outright victory this time. Vikings, 24-22.

    @ Dallas (PK) over L.A. Chargers

    Skinny: Cowboys sans suspended RB Ezekiel Elliott have been a mess, but they find a way to beat the Chargers primarily because Dallas' D is stingy in the red zone. Cowboys, 23-20.


    @ Washington (-7 1/2) over N.Y. Giants

    Skinny: Giants can't be expected to replicate their performance in 12-9 victory over Chiefs in Week 11. Redskins QB Kirk Cousins puts up phone numbers. Redskins, 30-19.


    @ Cincinnati (-8 1/2) over Browns

    Skinny: Browns (0-10) have been competitive deep into some of their games, and their opponent is the Bengals (4-6). Regardless, I'm not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe again -- until further notice. Bengals, 27-17.

    @ Philadelphia (-13 1/2) over Chicago

    Skinny: Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who should have been a Brown, does his thing and receives plenty of assistance. Eagles, 27-12.

    @ New England (-16 1/2) over Miami

    Skinny: Yes, the spread is outrageously high. But I'm not going to be the one to pick against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady when they are as locked-in as they are now. Patriots, 33-13.

    @ Kansas City (-10) over Buffalo

    Skinny: Bills pay for Chiefs having lost at Giants. Chiefs, 29-13.

    @ Atlanta (-9 1/2) over Tampa Bay

    Skinny: It is dangerous to trust the Falcons, who are coming off a victory in Seattle. I do so here because the Buccaneers are going nowhere. Falcons, 30-17.

    @ N.Y. Jets (+4 1/2) over Carolina

    Skinny: I just noticed I've gone exclusively with home teams. Where this game is concerned, I'm not sure why. Panthers, 22-19.

    Tennessee (-3 1/2) over @ Indianapolis

    Skinny: Line from Westgate Superbook. Titans (6-4) have too much at stake to falter against a bad outfit. Titans, 23-17.

    @ San Francisco (+7) over Seattle

    Skinny: This pick is based more on fear of the banged-up Seahawks not covering than on any confidence in the 49ers. Seahawks, 24-18.

    New Orleans (+2 1/2) over @ L.A. Rams

    Skinny: I can't believe the Rams are favored against a team that has won eight straight. Saints, 24-20.

    @ Arizona (+5) over Jacksonville

    Skinny: If the Jaguars can struggle periodically in Cleveland in Week 11, they can fail to cover in Arizona in Week 12. Jaguars, 19-15.

    Denver (+5) over @ Oakland

    Skinny: Broncos are reeling, but the Raiders aren't exactly on fire. Raiders are giving one too many points. Raiders, 22-18.


    @ Pittsburgh (-14) over Green Bay

    Skinny: See New England-Miami; sub in Mike Tomlin for Belichick and Ben Roethlisberger for Brady. Steelers, 31-10.


    @ Baltimore (-7) over Houston

    Skinny: Wild-card-hunting Ravens are feeling it after 23-0 victory in Green Bay in Week 11. Ravens, 25-10.

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    Ohio State's scout team players wear Michigan's helmet and colors during practice during the week of The Game.

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    We pair Ohio State football players with the corresponding Thanksgiving dish. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Happy Thanksgiving. We're two days away from Ohio State vs. Michigan, and we're talking turkey. More to the the point, we're talking about how Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett is just like the centerpiece to any T-day meal.

    We're not taking a break from seriously writing about Ohio State and Michigan today. You can find plenty of other real football stuff at Here we're having fun, and getting in the spirit of the holiday by pairing Buckeyes with their corresponding Thanksgiving dish.

    Our picks are in the video above.

    Feel free to give us yours in the comments section.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

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    The Buckeyes and Wolverines used to wear their home jerseys, back before television was a thing. Let's bring it back. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- J.T. Barrett has the chance to become the first Ohio State quarterback to ever go 4-0 in his career starting against Michigan. That would be a pretty cool story to tell his grandkids some day.

    When he sits them down 40 years from now, and they're looking at the photos from the game (probably displayed via the computer chip embedded in all of our brains by then), Barrett will have some explaining to do.

    That's a cool story, grandpa, but didn't you play for Ohio State? The team in these pictures looks like Boise State.

    This won't be a diatribe against alternate uniforms. They serve a purpose. Money. Recruiting, kind of. The all-white road version of Ohio State's "Land of the Wolves" uniforms that the Buckeyes will wear on Saturday against Michigan are sleek. The helmet should be white, storm trooper look, but that's a conversation for another day.

    Otherwise these uniforms look pretty cool.

    They just shouldn't be worn for a game against Michigan.

    Against Illinois? Sure, wear whatever you want. If Ohio State wanted to wear uniforms with LeBron James' face on the jersey, and Phil Knight's face on the helmet. Go for it. They're for sale at Buckeye Corner for $150. Hurry up. Supplies are running out.

    Just not against Michigan.

    It's Thanksgiving, and in these divisive times, let's try to unite around one thing. When Ohio State plays Michigan, the Buckeyes should look like the Buckeyes, and the Wolverines should look like the Wolverines. What better way to make sure that's always the case than to have both teams start wearing their traditional home uniforms every year?

    They used to do it.

    "Oh yes, many times," Ohio State football historian Jack Park told "Up until probably the mid 1950s. I'm pretty sure the 1954 game, played in Columbus, Ohio State wore red and Michigan wore blue. Pictures of that game are in black and white, and it's very hard to tell the two teams apart."

    The colorized photo above is from the 1950 "Snow Bowl" game in Columbus. Here's what the 1954 game looked like:

    It's hard to find archived photos from every game, but by 1958, Michigan was wearing white when it came to Columbus. Here's a photo from that game:

    1958 Ohio State vs. MichiganHere's what Michigan's uniforms looked like when they came to Columbus in 1958. 

    Michigan lost by the way, but carried then-coach Bennie Oosterbaan (coaching his final game) off the field anyway.

    Blame TV for the change. It was hard to tell who was who back when both teams would wear colored jerseys for black-and-white broadcasts. 

    Ohio State vs. Michigan was traditional home vs. away uniforms for years until 2009, when Nike saw the dollar signs and put Ohio State in some 1954 throwback uniforms to honor the national champions that year. Except those throwback uniforms were white, even though the Buckeyes wore scarlet, and Michigan wore blue when the teams actually played in 1954 (See above).

    2009 Ohio State vs. MichiganThe uniforms Ohio State wore against Michigan in 2009. 

    Ohio State wore alternate uniforms against Michigan in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. Some of those were recycled looks. It's not even like Ohio State broke a fresh alternate uniform every year.

    Last year the Buckeyes wore a hodgepodge of past alternate uniforms: The jerseys from their playoff run in 2014, their normal gray pants, and the cannon ball-inspired helmets from the 1916 throwbacks it wore against Nebraska last season. It looked clunky. Let's clean it up.

    Doing so would require some teamwork.

    The NCAA used to have a rule against this. Visiting teams had to wear white. USC and UCLA took a stand against that in 2008, when the Trojans showed up to the Rose Bowl in their home cardinal jerseys anyway. They were docked a timeout to start the game for the infraction. UCLA burned a timeout too, to make things even. Beautiful.

    Now, teams can both wear their home uniforms. USC and UCLA do it every year when they play each other. North Carolina and South Carolina have done it in the past, so have Florida and Georgia, and others. Here's what the NCAA rule book says about both teams wearing colored uniforms:

    * The home team must agree in writing before the game.

    * The home team's conference must certify that the color of the visiting team's jersey is in contrast with that of the home team.

    * If the visiting team wears colored jerseys without meeting these conditions, it is assessed a 15-yard penalty before the first play from scrimmage after the opening kickoff in each half.

    So this is on Ohio State, Michigan and the Big Ten to get this done.

    Ohio State would not return any requests for comment about whether or not this has ever been talked about with Michigan. Nike would have to be in on the conversation, too, most likely. Not much money in wearing your normal uniforms for the biggest game of the year, every year. Just do it anyway.

    No more throwbacks. No more wolves. No more throwing crap against the wall and seeing what sticks. At least not in this game. You want to be able to look back and have no doubt what two teams you're looking at.

    Ohio State should look like Ohio State. Michigan should look like Michigan.

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    How do the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines stack up when it comes to the QBs they have lined up for 2018 and beyond?

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    Is Sam Darnold the best choice for the Cleveland Browns? How about Josh Rosen? Baker Mayfield? Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- It's that time of year again...

    Draft time....

    That's right, the 2018 NFL Draft is April 26-28, only five months away!

    After all, we are talking about the Cleveland Browns.

    And quarterbacks.

    And the Browns never-ending search for a quarterback.

    Regardless of how DeShone Kizer plays the rest of this season, I want the Browns to draft a quarterback ... with their top pick.

    If Kizer turns out to be a good player ... outstanding! How about the Browns actually having two viable NFL quarterbacks.

    Of course, if that happened, I'd probably need to be checked for heart problems. It definitely will have stopped.


    Last Saturday, UCLA's Josh Rosen faced USC's Sam Darnold.

    The two quarterbacks didn't play against each other, but it was fun to watch them matched up in the same game.

    I had seen Darnold more than Rosen. I kind of like Darnold, but it was based more on reputation and a few good games that I watched.

    Having a chance to compare Darnold and Rosen, it wasn't even close.

    I fell in love with Rosen. He took snaps under center. He did a nice job on play-fakes to running backs when he dropped back to throw.

    Rosen played at least some of the time in a pro-style system, and that's a huge advantage.

    Rosen just looked more like an NFL quarterback than Darnold.


    Dane Brugler is one of my favorite draft experts. He is a Northeast Ohio guy, a Mount Union product. His draft guide is worth buying each year.

    His first mock draft just came out on He based the order of the picks on where the teams rank right now.

    With the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, Brugler has your Cleveland Browns selecting ... Sam Darnold, USC.

    "If Darnold declares (and that's a big IF), he boasts the instincts and intangibles that put him in the running for the top pick," Brugler wrote.

    OK, I have a different idea. I want Rosen.

    Brugler sent Rosen to the New York Giants with the No. 3 pick.

    "Rosen is far from a clean prospect, but his natural passing skills and arm talent are star quality," Brugler wrote.

    And that arm and passing skills are exactly why he is my favorite.


    Wyoming is one of my favorite places to hike and visit. I became a Wyoming fan when former Cleveland State assistant basketball coach Larry Shyatt became the head coach of the Cowboys -- and he signed Larry Nance Jr. from Revere.

    I tend to watch Wyoming basketball and football games when they pop up on late night TV.

    Suddenly, Wyoming has a quarterback prospect. Josh Allen is a projected first-rounder.

    His coach is Craig Bohl, the same coach who recruited Carson Wentz at North Dakota State.

    Bohl runs the same pro-style offense at Wyoming as he did at North Dakota State. That really helped Wentz adjust quickly to the NFL.

    I watched Allen in three games this season. He looks like a very raw Joe Flacco. In the last two seasons, he has completed only 56 percent of his passes. He is more athletic than Flacco.

    Most analytics say you want a college quarterback in this era to complete at least 60 percent of his passes. Darnold and Allen are at 62 percent.

    Brugler has Allen being the No. 8 pick in the draft, going to Arizona.

    "While underdeveloped in several areas, Allen has the physical traits that will drive his draft value into the top 15 selections," Brugler wrote.


    Then there's Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.

    He has stunning stats: 34 TD passes compared to five interceptions. He completes 71 percent of his passes.

    Brugler has Mayfield as the No. 11 pick, going to the L.A. Chargers.

    "Mayfield won't be for everyone," Brugler wrote. "But his skill-set and competitive fire will get him drafted in round one."

    He's listed at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. He plays in the Big 12, where it seems no one plays much defense. I'm not going to compare him to Johnny Manziel, because the former Browns quarterback had so many personal problems.

    But small quarterbacks from the Big 12 have not had much success, at least in Cleveland. I'm thinking Colt McCoy and Manziel. I'm also thinking Brandon Weeden, who is a big quarterback from the Big 12.

    They seem to have trouble adjusting to the NFL game.

    OK, fans, it's early draft season.

    Let's talk about it.