Per ESPN: “He could score 60 — in the 55s and 60s, all the time.” That was Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue talking about Cavs guard Kyrie Irving after Irving dropped a season-high 39 points in a 112-108 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday. (Full report.)
Also per ESPN: “Meanwhile, Irving has worked his skills into the team scheme and started to carve out a niche on the Cavs as their closer. We know Kevin Love is the opener — as that record-setting 34-point first quarter showed last week. And we know James does everything and then some.” (Full report.)
Per FOX Sports: “JR Smith played 38 minutes, 31 seconds and was 0-for-11 shooting to finish with zero points. According to Basketball Reference, the 38-minute threshold while going scoreless has been met 88 times — but Smith has a higher number of field goal attempts than any player on the list.” (Full report.)
Smith told reporters, per Cleveland.com: “I can’t say I’m not going to change anything. I changed something last year. One of my good friends, him and my dad are really tight. He’s an old, old, old Italian guy. He told me to walk out of my front door backwards. When I get home, hopefully I’m not still shooting like this in Milwaukee, but when I go home, I’ll probably do it again.” (Full report.)
Per RotoWire: “In four of the seven games he has seen 30 minutes or more this season, Tristan Thompson has produced a double-double.”
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “James Jones earned the game ball Sunday after he started the second half while Kevin Love was getting stitched up in the locker room. Love took a shot to the head early in the game, but wasn’t sure who hit him. James Jones said it was Robert Covington’s elbow when Covington put his arms up while trying to take a charge on Love.” (Full column.)
Per the Associated Press: “James and Joel Embiid got into a verbal altercation late in the first quarter. Richard Jefferson was whistled for a foul on Embiid’s drive, and James questioned the call. Embiid went toward James’ direction, but officials stepped between the players.” (Full report.)
Also per the Associated Press: “Embiid was limited to 25 minutes, eight of which came in the fourth quarter, as part of his minutes restriction that is part of his rehab plan after missing the last two seasons with a foot injury.” (Full report.)
Kevin Love went 28 minutes after receiving five stitches for a cut over his right eye. He is expected to be at full strength for Tuesday’s game vs. the Bucks, per Amico Hoops.
Per the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Brett Brown said Embiid has the fierce facial expressions of retired all-stars Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant. ‘Like that serious, they are just assassins,’ he said. ‘You know Joel’s got that anger. He can jump out of it and the charisma to get people going.'” (Full report.)
Per CSN Philly: “The last time the Cavaliers were in town to play the Sixers on Nov. 5, one of their team buses got stuck in traffic en route to the arena. The delay was so backed up that a group of players, including Kyrie Irving, ordered an Uber to get them to the Wells Fargo Center.” (Full report.)
Per the San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s an approach that has Kevin Durant on pace to finish with one of the best individual seasons in NBA history. He ranks seventh in the league with 27.2 points per game, on an average of 17 shots.” (Full report.)
Per the San Jose Mercury News: “In Boston, it was James Michael McAdoo. In Milwaukee, it was Kevon Looney. The next three games, it was JaVale McGee. Against the Timberwolves on Saturday, it was Anderson Varejao, entering to groans from the Oracle crowd.” (Full report.)
Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic is hoping to stay in the NBA, as opposed to return to Europe, when his contract expires at the end of the season, per the Chicago Tribune.
The NBA is hoping to make it harder for players to form superteams via the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, per ESPN Insider.
Also per the OC Register: “Jackson and his fiance, Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, both deny it’s happening. That’s absolutely true … as far as it goes … until Phil’s opt-out on July 1, 2017, with insiders close to both saying he could still wind up with the Lakers.” (Full column.)
Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell said he is feeling better after testing his sore left knee, per the Orange County Register.
Magic coach Frank Vogel shook up the starting lineup, as promised, per the Orlando Sentinel.
The Clippers’ depth is no longer a liability, per the Sacramento Bee.
Scoring is no longer a priority for Spurs forward/center Pau Gasol (and that may be a good thing), per the San Antonio Express-News.
For the first time in his career, Knicks guard Brandon Jennings is being asked to focus primarily on passing, per the New York Post.
Former NBA forward Quincy Acy has entered the D-League player pool, per ESPN.
Former Southeast Missouri State guard Isiah Jones has agreed to a contract with Apollon of Cyprus, per Amico Hoops.
Former Morgan State guard Reginald Holmes has signed with Italian club Mamak DSI, per Amico Hoops.
Ubndrafted Texas A&M forward Mickey Johnson has agreed to a contract with Al Shrooq of Saudi Arabia, per Amico Hoops.
The Cavaliers may be showcasing shooting guard Jordan McRae for potential suitors, per Cleveland.com.
Per the newspaper/website: “McRae’s numbers don’t exactly jump off the page — he’s averaging 2.8 points and shooting 21.6 percent — but they’re using him some as a backup point guard and, let’s face it, they’re trying to showcase him for a possible trade.” (Full report.)
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook recorded his 44th triple-double Saturday, tying LeBron James for sixth all-time. (Full report.)
Per the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “James admitted he changed some of the plays called early in the Portland game by Tyronn Lue. Kevin Love was blazing his way to 34 first-quarter points. Lue had some plays for James to shoot, and James changed them for Love.” (Full column.)
Also per the Plain Dealer: “If the Cavs continue to average 110 points, it will be a franchise record. The previous best was 108.8 in 1988-89. That was the team coached by Lenny Wilkens and led by Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Ron Harper, John “Hot Rod” Williams, Larry Nance and Craig Ehlo.” (Full column.)
The Cavs are likely to assign rookie point guard Kay Felder to the Canton Charge of the D-League within the next several weeks, per Amico Hoops.
Free agent point guard Mario Chalmers is interested in signing with the Cavs, Warriors, Spurs or Grizzlies, per Amico Hoops.
Per FOX Sports: “The 76ers put up a surprisingly good fight when they hosted the Cavaliers earlier this month. The Sixers can only hope to do the same when the defending NBA champions return to town Sunday afternoon.” (Full report.)
Sixers center Joel Embiid will play 24 minutes vs. the Cavs, then sit out Monday’s game at the Raptors, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Per Cavs.com: “The Cavs have hit at least 10 three-pointers in all 14 games, extending their NBA record for consecutive games with 10 or more made threes to start a season. They also lead the NBA in threes made per game this season (13.9).” (Full report.)
Per ESPN: “Nerlens Noel has yet to appear in a game this season after electing to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery last month, but word is he’d still prefer to be shipped to a new address with so many big men to battle for playing time in Philly. Count on the Sixers to accommodate him eventually.” (Full report.)
Per ESPN: “Suns general manager Ryan McDonough recently went on the Burns & Gambo radio show in Phoenix and proclaimed (A) that he isn’t actively trying to trade Brandon Knight and (B) that he’d prefer to take at least two months to evaluate his team before seriously considering trades. None of that, however, has stopped interested rivals from believing that the struggling Knight — who started two games this week with TJ Warren out but mostly comes off the bench for the Suns — will be made available.” (Full report.)
Per ESPN: “The Bucks have explored the possibility of trading Greg Monroe since last season’s deadline in February, which illustrates how hard it can be, but the limited role he has in Brewtown these days is akin to screaming that the 26-year-old is available.” (Full report.)
Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Kris Humphries left behind some debris at Hawks practice. The Hawks reserve forward/center broke a backboard with a dunk during a workout session at Santa Monica High School Saturday afternoon.” (Full report.)
Per the Arizona Republic: “Suns center Alex Len did not need to see Minnesota’s Zach LaVine dunking on him Friday night from multiple angles and with multiple freeze frames. ‘I didn’t watch SportsCenter because of that,’ Len said, laughing. ‘On my Instagram, I got like 50 comments – ‘RIP, rest in peace on the good career, retire,’ stuff like that. It definitely was funny. You can’t take stuff like that serious. Everybody gets dunked on.'” (Full report.)
Celtics swingman Gerald Green remains in the team’s plans despite not getting off the bench in six games, per ESPN.
Former NBA and D-League forward Vince Hunter (UTEP) has agreed to a contract with Russian club Avtodor, per Amico Hoops.
Former NBA and D-League power forward Ivan Johnson has signed with Atletico of Uruguay, per Amico Hoops.
Former D-League guard Lasan Kromah (Connecticut) has agreed to a contract with Greek club Promitheas, per Amico Hoops.