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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com
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    Former Cleveland Indians players Brian Anderson, Marquis Grissom, Sam McDowell and Greg Swindell met fans at the annual TribeFest and recalled memories from their playing days. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - As part of the annual Cleveland Indians TribeFest, an alumni network of Brian Anderson, Marquis Grissom, Sam McDowell and Greg Swindell greeted fans - many of whom weren't born when they played, others much older.

    People came, they reminisced, they asked for autographs. (Current coach Sandy Alomar, always a fan favorite, joined them for the afternoon session.) Here's a look at the former Indians, their memories about their time in Cleveland, and what they are up to now:

    BRIAN ANDERSON

    Anderson compiled an 82-83 record and 4.74 ERA in 13 seasons (1993-2005).

    Time with Indians: 1996-97, 2003.

    Toughest batter faced: "Based on sheer numbers, Shane Andrews. I couldn't get him out to save my life. For whatever reason he just owned me. (Andrews was a lifetime .220 hitter.) But Edgar Martinez - his bat control, his plan at the plate." Anderson said Martinez would even take a few cuts during batting practice with a donut on his bat.

    Good player you had success against: "Tony Gwynn. I owned him."

    Memorable moment in Cleveland: The fans. The sellout streak. (From 1995 to 2001, the Indians sold out 455 consecutive games at home.) The talent, especially offensively. It felt like the Oakland Raiders. Everything went as long as we won. And I played at home. (Anderson went to Geneva High School.) The Drive, The Fumble - I remember sobbing after that. So I told my mom 'I'm going to play on the first championship team to win in Cleveland.' I hadn't even made my high school team yet. (Anderson was on the Indians roster in 1997, when the team lost a seven-game World Series to the Florida Marlins.)

    Today: Color analyst for the Tampa Bay Rays. "I love it. Outside of playing, it's the next best thing. Your highs won't be as high, your lows won't be as low. You better have done your homework. It keeps you close to the game. It's the one thing I've found since I left playing that gives you that little bit of heart flutter."

     

    MARQUIS GRISSOM

    Grissom hit .272 over 17 years, 1989-2005.

    Time with Indians: 1997.

    Toughest pitcher faced: "All of 'em. I would have to say Randy Johnson. I think I was 0-25, but I got him at the end."

    Good pitcher you had success against: "Curt Schilling. I loved the challenge."

    Memorable moment in Cleveland: The whole year. The team we had, the amount of talent we had. It took us before the All-Star break, we started to gel. ... It was an unbelievable season. I enjoyed watching them play before I even got there."

    Today: The first of 15 kids in his family to go to college, Grissom recognizes the importance of education. He is founder and president of the Marquis Grissom Baseball Association in Mableton, Georgia. The MGBA is a mentoring organization for high school students, giving kids a chance to learn and pay the game as well as offer curriculum-tutoring opportunities to "let them know there's a business side of baseball, it's not just on the field." He added: "Just trying to pay it forward."

    SAM MCDOWELL

    McDowell went 141-134 and 3.17 ERA in 15 years in the Majors, 1961-75.

    Time with Indians: 1961-71. He went 122-109.

     

    Toughest batter faced: "Frank Howard. In my particular case, no matter what I threw him, he hit it out. I would throw spitballs; he still it out. My manager, Alvin Dark, made a deal - 'If it's the seventh inning and the game is up by two runs, you're not pitching to him.' " (He also mentioned Frank Robinson.)

    Good player you had success against: Mickey Mantle. Most of the big hitters didn't give me much of a problem - Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew." (Oliva hit .304 lifetime while Hall-of-Famer Killebrew smacked 573 home runs.)

    Memorable moment in Cleveland: Being in the stands when we had 77,000 fans against the Yankees. That was awesome. Back-to-back consecutive one-hitters (McDowell's one-hitters came in 1966: April 25 against Kansas City and May 1 against Chicago.) The game (Detroit pitcher) Denny McLain said 'We're going into Cleveland, we can relax.' " McDowell said he asked for the rotation to be switched so he could face McLain. "We beat him. And I don't think he beat us the rest of his career."

    Today: McDowell has worked for 37 years as a consultant and counselor with Major League Baseball. He is retiring Wednesday, Jan. 31, and his son Tim - a former pitcher in the Pirates organization - will take over. For years, both father and son have worked with B.A.T. - Baseball Assistance Team.

     

    GREG SWINDELL

    Swindell compiled a 123-122 record and 3.86 ERA in 17 Major League seasons (1986-2002).

    Time with Indians: 1986-91, 1996. He went 61-56 in those seasons.

    Toughest batter faced: "This guy (pointing to Grissom, sitting next to him.) We looked this up recently; he was 12-29 against me. When he came up, it was 'please take me out.' "

    Good player you had success against: "Barry Bonds. He hit one home run, but I think he was 1-36."

    Memorable moment in Cleveland: The large stadium - the nights it was full. It was an awesome place to play. I liked that old stadium. ... It was nostalgic." Growing up he said he loved fellow left-hander Steve Carlton while "(Nolan) Ryan was my righty."

    Today: Baseball analyst for the University of Texas Longhorns, his alma mater.

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    There wasn't much for the Cleveland Cavaliers to enjoy during the first half of Saturday's matinee game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, as the reigning Eastern Conference champs were booed multiple times during the first half.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- There wasn't much for the Cleveland Cavaliers to enjoy during the first half of Saturday's matinee game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, as the reigning Eastern Conference champs were booed multiple times during the first half. 

    However, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James connected for one highlight reel play. 

    Late in the second quarter, Wade stripped reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and sprinted the other way. Once in the lane, surrounded by three defenders, Wade tossed a high lob to James for a powerful one-handed dunk. It was one of James' nine made shots. 

    James and Wade. Like peanut butter and jelly.

    Only Cleveland didn't get enough of those exciting plays, trailing by 16 points at halftime. 


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    John Carroll is searching for a replacement for retiring Laurie Massa, senior director of athletics and recreation has begun.

    X00109_9.JPGLaurie Massa

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - John Carroll senior director of athletics Laurie Massa announced this week that she will retire at the end of this academic year.

    "I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead the John Carroll Department of Athletics during a time of growth and development," said Massa in a statement released by the school. "I am proud of our competitive success, and more importantly for the life changing experiences of our student athletes, which have helped them grow as men and women for and with others."

    Massa added that the experiences of the student athletes were made possible by the extraordinary commitment of coaches and support staff.

    Massa will retire after 14 years in which she was responsible for the operations of 23 intercollegiate varsity sports as well as the
    intramural, recreational and club sport areas of the university's
    athletics program.

    During her tenure, 16 of the 23 teams captured at least
    one Ohio Athletic Conference championship and several qualified for NCAA Tournaments.

    JCU hosted the 2009 NCAA Division III volleyball
    championships.

    John Carroll captured the OAC All-Sports men's trophy in each of the last three years, and the 11 conference championships won in 2016-17 matched the program record for most in a single year.

    Massa also helped launch men's and women's lacrosse and led efforts that increased the total number of student athletes from 520 participants in 2004 to nearly 700 today.


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    Between the playoffs, the preseason, the All-Star Game and the Olympics, James has done a lot of other scoring since he turned pro.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- LeBron James didn't reach 30,000 points Saturday, scoring 18 points in a 148-124 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder that left him seven points shy of the mark in his NBA career.

    But we know he really passed 30,000 points long ago. 

    James is still chasing 30,000 points in the NBA regular season, in which he has played 1,106 regular-season games. But think of all the other games he has played since he turned pro that don't count toward 30,000.

    There's at least another 8,000 points there.

    PLAYOFF POINTS: 6,163 points

    James has reached the playoffs 12 times in his career, including eight trips to the NBA Finals. So he has played in 217 playoff games and scored 6,163 points.

    That's a 28.4 points per game average. And it doesn't count in the 30,000 total. 

    ALL-STAR POINTS: 314 points

    James has been named to the All-Star Game 13 times, in every season except his rookie season. And he has played in all of them.

    His high point total was 36 points in 2012. He also scored 30 points in 2015. He scored at least 20 points in all but three games. In all, he has scored 314 All-Star points, an average of 24.2 points per game.

    OLYMPIC POINTS: 273 points

    James played in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, winning a bronze in his first Games and gold in his final two.

    In each of those Olympics, Team USA played eight games.

    James was a sub in 2004 and didn't score more than 11 points in a game, while totaling 43 points.

    But as a centerpiece in 2008 he scored in double figures in every game while getting the gold back, scoring 124.

    In 2012 he took it easier in some early games, but scored at least 18 in four of the final five games as the United States struck basketball gold again. He finished with 108 points.

    OTHER INTERNATIONAL POINTS: 586 points

    According to USA Basketball, James has been a part of 11 United States teams and has scored a total of 979 points for USA Basketball. Take out the 273 Olympic points and that's another 706 points in things like the World Championships and the FIBA America Championships. But 120 of those came in 2001 when he was playing in the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival. That was before he was a pro, so we aren't counting them.

    SUMMER LEAGUE POINTS: 94 points

    James played in six summer league games before his rookie season, two in Orlando and four in Boston. Thanks to game stories in our Plain Dealer archives, we know James scored 94 points in those games, including a high of 25 in his first Boston game.

    PRESEASON POINTS: Probably more than 650 points

    James' preseason career wasn't so easy.

    The NBA website only tracks preseason stats for the last four seasons, and it has James scoring 154 points in 11 games. So that's 11 other preseasons unaccounted for, and I couldn't find stats for them.

    If you can, email me at dlesmerises@cleveland.com or tweet me @DougLesmerises.

    James, fighting an ankle injury, played just one game this preseason. He's certainly played more than that in past preseasons. The NBA cut down to four or five preseason games this year from what was normally eight preseason games in the past. 

    If you go on the low side, and figure James for about 50 preseason games in those 11 other seasons, and 10 points per game in those 50 games, that's another 500 points. And again, that's just a guess that's probably low.


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    The Cavs tied a franchise record for most points allowed in a regulation game. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Hey, the Cavaliers played the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA's first ABC Saturday game of the year. How'd it go?

    Welp, Kevin Love lasted about three minutes in first quarter. Took about six minutes for the 20,562 at The Q to boo the Cavs lustily. And not even eight minutes for the home team to be down 19 points.

    Change the channel. CHANGE. THE. CHANNEL.

    If that explains your viewing experience, you didn't miss much. The Cavs were crushed by the Thunder, 148-124, and LeBron James fell short of the 30,000-point career milestone he so badly wanted to reach at home.

    The Thunder's 148 points were tied for the most points allowed by Cleveland in a regulation game, ever. The last time the Cavs allowed 148 was Jan. 2, 1972, against Philadelphia.

    "You give up 148 points, I mean, you're not going to beat nobody in the world, giving up 148 points," coach Tyronn Lue said.

    It's the third time the Cavs have coughed up a season high in points in two weeks. The closest the Cavs got after the first quarter was eight points with 6:37 left in the second. The Thunder's starters scored 121 points.

    Paul George destroyed Cleveland with 36 points and seven rebounds, but he wasn't alone. Carmelo Anthony added 29 points and 10 rebounds, and reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook went for 23 points, a season-high 20 assists, and nine rebounds.

    "I've never in my basketball life gave up 148 points, not even probably playing video games," James said. "They got everything that they wanted. Inside, outside, they had it moving. Big (Steve) Adams is a monster. Russ controlled their whole tempo. Paul George started off hitting threes. Melo... They were all solid. We scored 124 and still lost by 20. A lot to break down. We got an 11 a.m. practice tomorrow. It's going to be so much to break down. I'm looking forward to it. It's just a really bad, really bad loss on our part."

    James finished with 18 points, leaving him seven shy of becoming the seventh player in NBA history to score 30,000. Lue left James out there for the first five minutes in the fourth quarter of the blowout, apparently to give him a chance at reaching the milestone in front of family in Cleveland. He missed his only two shots in the fourth, finishing 8-of-17 from the field with seven assists and three rebounds.

    Thunder coach Billy Donovan played Westbrook in garbage time -- even past James' meaningless fourth quarter minutes -- until he reached 20 assists.

    Isaiah Thomas was the Cavs' high man with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Jae Crowder scored 17 points, and Jeff Green added 12 off the bench. Derrick Rose chipped in 12 points in his second game back after missing more than two months with ankle injuries.

    Love left the game with 8:56 left and didn't return because of an illness. He missed his only two shots -- both 3s -- and one went off the side of the backboard.

    The game was yet another black eye for the reeling Cavs, who were pounded by 28 by Minnesota and 34 by the Raptors earlier this month. Trade winds are swirling around this team -- which is only two games in the loss column ahead of the Miami Heat for third in the East.

    Before the game, Lue said he liked the Cavs' roster as is. His players are making it tough to maintain the status quo.

    "We all have to be better," Lue said. "It's not one person or one section of blame. It's everybody and we all have to be better."

    Oklahoma City's Adams was dominant with 25 points and 11 rebounds on 12-of-13 shooting.  The Cavs were outrebounded 52-28 and shot 10-of-27 from 3-point range.

    The Thunder led 43-24 after one quarter, setting a new opponent high mark for a quarter against the Cavs. According to ESPN's research staff, the 43 first-quarter points were the second-most a James team allowed in a quarter over his 15 seasons.

    It was 76-60 at halftime, in favor of, well, you know who. The 76 points were of course the most the Cavs have allowed in a half. Cleveland was 2-of-16 from 3-point land through two quarters. When adding to that total the Cavs' 3-point performance in the second half of Thursday's win over Orlando, the Cavs were 3-of-33 on 3s.

    The Cavs have lost five of their last six and are 3-9 since Christmas Day.

    "I think we need to hold everybody accountable a little more and I think that's the biggest thing right now, if guys ain't doing the right job they need to come out the game," Thomas said. "And that's just what it is."

    NEXT: The Cavaliers play at the San Antonio Spurs at 8 p.m. on Tuesday on TNT.

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    Former Ohio State defensive lineman and assistant coach Mike Vrabel is the head coach of the Titans.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State defensive lineman and assistant coach Mike Vrabel was hired as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.

    Vrabel was a two-time All-American and two-time Big Ten defensive lineman of the year as a player at OSU. He coached on Ohio State's defensive staff from 2011-13. He had been an assistant coach with the Texans ever since, and was their defensive coordinator in 2017.

    Vrabel played 14 seasons in the NFL and won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. He was also an All-Pro in 2007.


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    Jordan Blount led Illinois-Chicago to an 87-80 Horizon League victory over Cleveland State on Saturday.

    CLEVELAND -- Jordan Blount scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Illinois-Chicago to an 87-80 win over Cleveland State in a Horizon League men's basketball game on Saturday.

    Godwin Boahen added a team-high 18 points with 6-for-8 shooting, Tarkus Ferguson had 16 points and Tai Odiase got 12 for UIC (10-11, 5-3 Horizon League). It was Blount's second double-double of the season.

    The Flames got a 3-pointer from Michael Diggins at the end of the opening half to take a 40-38 advantage into the break and then opened the second half with a 25-6 run. Blount hit five of his eight baskets during the run and the Flames never trailed again.

    Cleveland State (5-16, 2-6) tightened it up late in the game with a 12-0 run that included a 3-pointer from Jamarcus Hairston, making it 79-71 with under two minutes left but UIC hung on down the stretch to go 3-0 on the road for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

    Tyree Appleby led Cleveland State with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Hairston finished with 16 points, Kasheem Thomas had 13 and Kenny Carpenter got 10 for the Vikings.


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    Check out how Ohio State players, including quarterback J.T. Barrett, performed during Saturday's East-West Shrine Game.


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    The Akron Zips defeated Northern Illinois, 82-67, in a Mid-American Conference game on Saturday.

    AKRON, Ohio -- Jimond Ivey had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as Akron rolled to an 82-67 victory over Northern Illinois in a Mid-American Conference men's basketball game on Saturday.

    Malcolm Duvivier and Virshon Cotton scored 17 points apiece to lead Akron (9-9, 2-4 Mid-American Conference), which has won two of its last three games. Daniel Utomi chipped in 16 points.

    Dante Thorpe and Eugene German had 16 points each for Northern Illinois (9-10, 2-4). Gairges Daow added 14 points.

    The Zips built a double-digit lead midway through the first half and held a 43-30 halftime advantage. Northern Illinois opened the second half with an 11-5 run to pull to 48-41. Ivey and Utomi answered with back-to-back 3s and the Zips cruised from there.

    Akron has won eight of the last 11 in the series and coach John Groce has a 5-0 record against the Huskies.


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    The Kanter-James feud began in November when James, in an attempt to praise Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., suggested the Knicks made a mistake passing on him in favor of Frank Ntilikina in the 2017 draft.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- New York Knicks big man Enes Kanter added a new chapter in his personal rivalry with LeBron James Saturday, firing off a biting tweet mere moments after the Cleveland Cavaliers got blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder, 148-124. 

    It was simple from Kanter, posting the number "148," as in the amount of points the Cavs allowed against the Thunder. Kanter capped the message with James' "Strive For Greatness" hashtag and a pair of emojis (lightning bolt and crown). 

    Cleveland has been a poor defensive team for a bulk of the season, but 148 is a new low, matching the most the franchise has ever given up. The Cavs' most recent loss gives them five in their last six games.

    In the locker room after the game, Kanter's tweet made its way to a few players and Cavs staff members, who simply rolled their eyes and reiterated how starved for attention Kanter is, something James said months ago. 

    "For Enes Kanter who always got something to say...he says, I don't know what's wrong with him," James said.

    The Kanter-James feud began in November when James, in an attempt to praise Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., suggested the Knicks made a mistake passing on him in favor of Frank Ntilikina in the 2017 draft. When Ntilikina and James traded shoves in the matchup at Madison Square Garden, Kanter quickly intervened and got into a shoving match before the two had to be separated. 

    "I don't care who you are. What do you call yourself? King, queen, princess, whatever you are," Kanter told reporters after. "We're going to fight. Nobody out there is going to punk us."

    James fired back in his session with reporters: "I'm the king, my wife is the queen and my daughter's the princess so we got all three covered."

    Stay tuned for the next chapter. The Cavs have two more matchups with the Knicks remaining -- April 9 and 11. But social media could spark another before those April showdowns.  


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    See reaction after the Cleveland Cavaliers fell at home 148-124 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. LeBron James came up short towards reaching 30,000 career points.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio --LeBron James' journey to scoring 30,000 career points was expected to end with fanfare Saturday at home in Cleveland. Instead the night will be linked to a Cavaliers' 148-124 loss to the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder with James coming up short of his milestone.

    The Cavaliers giving up 148 points was the most to an opponent this season eclipsing the 133-98 loss in Toronto on Jan. 11.

    On Saturday, James needed 25 points to reach the 30,000-point milestone. He'll get a chance to reach the benchmark Tuesday in San Antonio after scoring 18 against the Thunder.

    Reporters, analysts and took to social media to share their thoughts along with New York Knicks center Enes Kanter sharing an jaw dropping tweet after the game.


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    "I don't know what's going to happen with our team," James said after the Cavs were run out of their own building by the Oklahoma City Thunder. "I have no idea what conversations have been going on." Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- LeBron James said he hopes Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue isn't fired over the team's porous play, but "I really don't know" what's going to happen to him or anyone else.

    "I don't know what's going to happen with our team," James said after the Cavs were run out of their own building, 148-124, by the Oklahoma City Thunder. "I have no idea what conversations have been going on. Me personally, I've been trying to stay as laser-sharp as I can to keep my guys ready to go out and play. Obviously, it hasn't resulted in wins, but I got to stay as fresh mentally as much I can with the struggles.

    "I can't worry about job securities and trades and things of that nature."

    No one inside the organization suggested Saturday that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was preparing to fire the only coach who's won a championship for this organization, and Lue will not make changes to his coaching staff. But some sort of reckoning could be coming.

    The 148 points allowed tied a franchise record that's stood since 1972. Cleveland's lost its last two games on national TV by a combined 58 points. The Cavs are nearly the NBA's worst defensive team, and are 3-9 dating to Christmas.

    Their record is 27-18, thanks to a red-hot November and December when the team won 18 of 19.

    Gilbert is not afraid to make changes. As an example, coach David Blatt was fired in January of 2016 despite a trip to the Finals and a 30-11 record at the time he was let go. General manager Chris Grant was fired after an embarrassing loss -- the Cavs were drilled by a Lakers team that finished a game with only four players on the court -- in 2014.

    Gilbert let David Griffin, the GM for three consecutive Finals berths, walk over the summer.

    "Yeah, I don't know," Lue said. "Not sure. But you look at the score and you score 124 points and to lose by 24 that's tough to follow. I just thought they attacked us in every which way. I thought one-on-one defense, pick-and-roll, transition, they got whatever they wanted. We gotta be better. It starts from top to bottom, everyone has to buy into what we're doing and we just have to be better."

    The Cavs' losing and the discontent it's causing inside the organization is spilling into the public eye. After a loss to the Warriors this week, numerous marquee players expressed doubt that the Cavs could fix their problems or make a trade to address them.

    On Friday, there were numerous reports of the Cavs seeking deals for George Hill from the Kings and for DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams from the Clippers.

    After being railroaded by the Thunder, Isaiah Thomas said there was little accountability on the Cavs.

    "I think we need to hold everybody accountable a little more and I think that's the biggest thing right now, if guys ain't doing the right job they need to come out of the game," Thomas said. "And that's just what it is. It's never personal. It's doing what's best for this team and put this team in position to be successful.

    "Tonight was not on the coaches, though. That's on us -- 150 points, I don't think I've been a part of that since my two All-Star games, so that's on us as players."

    Thomas led the Cavs with 24 points and shot 8-of-14. It was his best game offensively out of the seven he's played.

    But Thomas' defensive rating -- points allowed per 100 possessions while he was on the court -- was 151.6. He was matched up against reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, who is six inches taller than Thomas and went for 23 points, 20 assists and nine rebounds.

    Time and again Saturday, Lue said after the game the Cavs had "matchup" problems, speaking primarily about Thomas on Westbrook.

    The Thunder traded for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, and the two combined for 65 points. With them on the floor alongside Westbrook, there are fewer opportunities to help Thomas on defense.

    "We were a better defensive team in Boston," said Thomas, who was traded by the Celtics to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. "That's what we laid our hat on, so it's not about me stopping anybody. You're not stopping just one person and not one person is stopping me, so that goes on the other end as well.

    "Stopping Westbrook, he gotta stop me too and that's with any guard in this league, but in Boston we were just a better defensive team. We played a lot harder. We have the guys to do that on this team. We just gotta do it."

    Lue was kind of all over the place in a sense on Saturday. He said he likes "who we have" on the team before the game, and blamed the reshuffling of lineups and rotations because of the return of injured players like Thomas and Tristan Thompson for stunting the team's momentum.

    But after Saturday's game, Lue cited matchups and the players' inability to play one-on-one defense. Matchups and defensive skills won't improve on this team without trades. If "skill" isn't the issue, then it would seem to be scheme.

    "We just gotta be better," Lue said. "I think it's tough for us one-on-one wise guarding the ball, one-on-one defense. I think a lot of times with our closeouts, it's tough. We've got a lot of guys who are closing out to guys who can shoot it and drive it. Puts a lot of pressure on your defense, so, we just gotta continue to keep working at it and look at different things to make us better."   

    James' final synopsis: "It is what it is."

    "I can't break," he said. "I'm the last one that can break at this point. I'm the leader of this team. Hopefully we can get some wins and that definitely helps, but I'm going to stay as positive as I can be."


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    Toledo ran its winning streak to five with a 72-65 victory over Kent State on Saturday.

    TOLEDO, Ohio -- Tre'Shaun Fletcher had his eighth double-double of the season, including seven points in the final four minutes, and Luke Knapke had 16 points and nine rebounds to help Toledo beat Kent State, 72-65, in a Mid-American Conference men's basketball game on Saturday night for its fifth win in a row.

    Fletcher finished 17 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, Jaelen Sanford added 14 points and five assists and Marreon Jackson scored 11 for Toledo (13-6, 5-1 Mid-American Conference).

    Sanford made a layup and then assisted on a dunk by Fletcher to spark a 13-6 run over the final four minutes, 27 seconds. The Rockets hit 4 of 5 from the field and all five of their free-throw attempts -- while Kent State was just 2-of-7 shooting, including 0 for 4 from 3-point range -- during that span.

    Kevin Zabo led Kent State (9-10, 3-3) with 20 points, his third consecutive game scoring at least 20. Jaylin Walker added 19 points.

    The Golden Flashes made five free throws and shot 45.5 percent from the foul line, both season lows.


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    But the biggest stands just 5-foot-9. It's Isaiah Thomas, who has been among the league's worst defenders for years. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers were hemorrhaging points on defense even before Isaiah Thomas made his long-awaited season debut.

    Jae Crowder hasn't lived up to his reputation as a tough and rugged 3-and-D wing. He's also out of position, a 6-foot-6 small forward moved over one spot to accommodate Cleveland's other starters. JR Smith has taken a massive step back, falling from his "best-defensive-player" perch that he was placed on by head coach Tyronn Lue a few years ago. LeBron James' effort fluctuates. Kevin Love is asked to protect the paint in a new small-ball, all-shooters starting lineup. Tristan Thompson hasn't been nearly as disruptive.

    Cleveland has a personnel problem. 

    But the biggest stands just 5-foot-9. It's Thomas, who has been among the league's worst defenders for years and is already the team's weakest. 

    Add it all up and Saturday's result happens, with the Cavs allowing 148 points, matching the most in franchise history, tying the horrible mark set in 1972 when the Cavs were an expansion team.

    "They scored a lot of points, but it's been the same thing," Dwyane Wade said following the 148-124 loss. "We're not the best individual defensive team, anyway. But we're not doing a good job helping each other. That comes with a little bit of looking at it and learning, but also more of a sense of urgency. With guys that can score like Paul (George) and Russ (Westbrook), Melo (Carmelo Anthony), you can't have moments where you're not communicating, you're not talking. Everything that we've been dealing with as a group kind of came as one today. We've got to figure it out."

    The grim truth for the Cavs is there may not be much to really figure out.

    They will point to building trust on that end of the floor, something that should get better with time, more reps as a fully healthy squad. That could come any day now with Iman Shumpert's impending return. They can preach about raising the intensity level, something that's been lacking as well. Maybe even chat about sprinting back in transition, an area where the opponent attacks them relentlessly each night.

    Perhaps Lue tries some new lineup combinations or different schemes. He admitted Saturday that the current defensive strategy is "basic." 

    "You definitely can't flip a switch," Wade said. "But you can get better. But what does that look like? What does that mean? Don't know.

    "First step into that is showing up tomorrow and figuring out a way and wanting to get better. That's the only way it's going to change. Everybody's in here wearing a Cleveland jersey and we've got to find a way to get better, to do something more individually to help the team."

    The Cavs will have a tough film session Sunday morning, showing numerous defensive breakdowns and open shots. But that's nothing new. The issues they had against the Thunder are the same ones that have existed since training camp, buried from time to time beneath a pile of unworthy opponents.

    The Cavs don't have the pieces to be a championship-caliber defense. And their bad habits turn it from poor to embarrasing rather quickly. At this point, becoming respectable would be an enormous victory and even that's unlikely given the players dotting the roster.

    It starts with Thomas, the head of the snake, the player responsible for slowing down the opponent at the point of attack. Without a true rim protector, auality perimter defense is vital. Following the blowout loss, Lue pointed to "matchup problems." He might as well have been singling out Thomas, who was no match for Russell Westbrook.

    After watching Westbrook fly past or leap over diminutive Thomas, even gesturing about Thomas being too small following a baseline layup in the second quarter, the Cavs attempted to hide Thomas on less formidable offensive threats.

    He spent a handful of possessions defending Andre Roberson, Josh Huestis and Jerami Grant, hoping that would help the defense. Not so much.

    There's no scheme that can make up for Thomas' limitations. Increased effort won't do enough either. There's no amount of offense that can allow the Cavs to survive with that porous play at the other end of the floor. The Cavs dropped 124 points on the Thunder, shooting an efficient 51.7 percent from the field.

    Thomas tallied a season-high 24 points on 8-of-14 from the field and 4-of-8 from 3-point range. It didn't even make a dent in the scoreboard.

    His disastrous defensive rating of 151.6 led to the Thunder outscoring the Cavs by 41 points per 100 possessions during Thomas' time on the court.

    It's taken just seven games for him to drop to the bottom of the league list in that important category, only ahead of two players who are no longer active (Jordan Crawford and Jeremy Lin).

    "We were a better defensive team in Boston," Thomas said. "That's what we laid our hat on, so it's not about me stopping anybody. You're not stopping just one person and not one person is stopping me, so that goes on the other end as well. Stopping Westbrook, he gotta stop me too and that's with any guard in this league, but in Boston we were just a better defensive team.

    "We played a lot harder. We have the guys to do that on this team. We just gotta do it. We gotta lock in on that end, really trust each other on that end. I think that's the biggest thing on defense is trusting that the next guy got your back and then that guy that helps, trusting that guy after that has your back. I think on that end right now we don't trust each other and that has to change."

    Beyond the Celtics' fesity style, they also had personnel better equipped to curtail Thomas' unavoidable defensive troubles.

    He shared the backcourt with either Avery Bradley, one of the premier on-the-ball defenders, or Marcus Smart, who built a reputation on that end. Al Horford, who typically ranks near the top in important individual defensive metrics, helped anchor the defense, erasing some mistakes around the rim.

    In Cleveland, Thomas' problems inflame.

    There's no one to protect him like Boston did, no one to take the assignment against the NBA's best point guards. And there's no rim protection to help the Cavs mitigate the constant off-the-dribble attacks. Helping in the post, which the Cavs did at times when he was checking bigger players, leads to a scrambling defense that lacks the habits and principles to rotate properly. 

    Each member of the starting group possesses a defensive rating of 112 or worse this season.

    "I think it's tough for us one-on-one wise guarding the ball, one-on-one defense," Lue admitted. "I think a lot of times with our closeouts, it's tough. We've got a lot of guys who are closing out to guys who can shoot it and drive it. Puts a lot of pressure on your defense, so, we just gotta continue to keep working at it and look at different things to make us better."

    Thomas isn't the only problem and he wasn't against Oklahoma City either. Crowder had an even worse defensive rating (154.9) Saturday -- if that's even possible to grasp. James didn't make much of an impact. Smith kept getting lost got coming off screens. The miscommunication on switch attempts was easy to spot. The Thunder starters combined for a whopping 121 points. 

    As James admitted Saturday there are a bunch of issues.

    "We got a lot of things going on," James said. "It's not 1. It's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We got some searching to figure out how we can be better."

    No matter where the search leads, the Cavs probably won't like the answer. This team won't be good enough defensively. 


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    Miocic won 50-44 on all three scorecards early Sunday and was never seriously tested by the raw but unrefined Ngannou.

    BOSTON -- Stipe Miocic set the UFC heavyweight record with his third straight successful title defense, turning the anticipated slugfest against Francis Ngannou into a methodical ground-and-pound bout in the main event of UFC 220 early Sunday morning.

    Miocic won 50-44 on all three scorecards early Sunday and was never seriously tested by the raw but unrefined Ngannou.

    Miocic (18-2) and Ngannou (11-2) had UFC fans buzzing with perhaps the most-hyped heavyweight title bout since Brock Lesnar was the class of the division. Both fighters have a history of finishing off their foes within two rounds and Ngannou was coming off a nasty knockout win just seven weeks ago.

    Both fighters were winded by the third round and Ngannou looked sleepy as he whiffed on a few blows in the fifth.

    Miocic and Ngannou tagged each other several times in the first round and both fighters were staggered and in trouble. But the fight got worse from there. Miocic spent the second and third rounds just banging away as Ngannou covered up, hoping for one last desperate knockout punch.

    He never found it.

    Miocic beat Fabricio Werdum to win the heavyweight title in May 2016, and followed with wins against Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos and now Ngannou to slug his way into the record book.

    In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier has defended his 205-pound title with a dominating performance over Volkan Oezdemir.

    Cormier (20-1) had the Boston crowd behind him and Oezdemir (16-1) taking shots in front of him Saturday night, putting him away just two minutes into the second round. Cormier raised his hands in triumph as UFC President Dana White wrapped the title belt around his waist. He dropped to his knees on the canvas and said he proved he was worthy of being called champion.

    Cormier was awarded the title after Jon Jones was stripped of his light heavyweight championship when he failed his latest doping test.


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    Those Cleveland Indians fans who say the team is having a rough offseason were hard to find at Saturday's TribeFest 2018 event. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Those "pessimistic fans" who lurk in the online shadows and comment with impunity on Twitter were nowhere to be found Saturday at TribeFest 2018 inside the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland.

    Inside, the 2018 Cleveland Indians season outlook was as sunny as a spring training afternoon in Goodyear, Arizona.

    Thousands of Tribe fans poured into the event, greeting 26 Indians players and coaches throughout the day while seeking autographs, posing for photos and playing interactive games. Response to the sixth-annual gathering's new expanded venue was overwhelmingly positive, as fans took to social media to share the experience of meeting their favorite players.

    Jennifer White of Avon brought her daughter, Ana, 9, in the hopes of getting a photo with Francisco Lindor.

    "He made her whole year just with that one picture," White said. "She'll cherish it long after the summer is over."

    While an ongoing narrative surrounding the Tribe's offseason is that the organization has struggled with free agent departures and a tepid trade market, fans on Saturday remained positive about the upcoming season.

    Tyler Davis of Chagrin Falls insisted that the Tribe's cupboard is hardly bare.

    "We're bringing back five All-Stars from last year, and the best starting pitching rotation in baseball," he said. "Other teams are going to have to score runs, too, you know."

    Manager Terry Francona appeared shocked that any fans would be pessimistic about the team's chances at winning a World Series in 2018, noting that the Tribe has the best record in the American League over the last five seasons.

    "This has been a good, good run of baseball and I don't see that going anywhere," Francona said.

    As far as losing Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce and Bryan Shaw, Francona admits they will be missed, but said there are players who nobody has on the radar that will step in and contribute.

    Francona said he was barely asked about Tyler Olson in spring training last season, but by the end of 2017, the rookie reliever had thrown 20 consecutive scoreless innings.

    "It happens every year and it will happen again," Francona said. "Some of the guys you just don't quite know who they are yet. But they'll rise to the occasion. They'll get an opportunity and they'll run with it."

    Jason Kipnis said fans who are only looking at the players the Indians have lost are not seeing the whole picture. He thinks once opening day rolls around, they'll get behind the Tribe's lineup.

    "It wasn't one person who won 102 games and it wasn't one person who put us on a 22-game winning streak," Kipnis said. "It was a group effort and this group is still capable of everything we want to accomplish."

    Lindor balked at the idea that the Indians have taken a step backward. He said adding an All-Star bat like Yonder Alonso and bringing back seven starting pitchers who won games year has him filled with optimism.

    "It's not about what you had, it's about what you have in front of you and what you can do with it," Lindor said. "We're going to miss the guys that left. We respect them. We love them. But, at the end of the day, we've got a job to do and we're trying to win."

    Jose Ramirez implored fans to trust the players and coaches who are still here.

    "We're going to keep giving our very best and we're going to come out every day to win, for ourselves and also for our fans, because they're so important," Ramirez said. "So trust in us, we're going to do our best for you all."