Sput­ter­ing Cavs look­ing for an­swers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Cleve­land

Upon ar­riv­ing at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday, each mem­ber of the Cleve­land Cava­liers re­ceived a com­mem­o­ra­tive watch — the lat­est gift to cel­e­brate their NBA cham­pi­onship.

The Los An­ge­les Clip­pers then handed them a sec­ond straight loss.

J.J. Redick scored 23 points and Blake Grif­fin matched a ca­reer high with 11 as­sists as the Clip­pers bounced back from a bru­tal loss with a 11394 vic­tory over the Cavs, who have dropped two straight for the first time since win­ning their ti­tle.

Af­ter­ward, there was no panic in­side Cleve­land’s locker room, but rather a mea­sured re­sponse to their first real ad­ver­sity this sea­son. The Cavs also lost in Mil­wau­kee on Tues­day, but cap­tain LeBron James isn’t wor­ried — yet.

“Two pretty poor games for sure,” said James, who scored 16 but had five turnovers.

“You’re hop­ing they’re not back-to-back, but it hap­pens. Now, three games in a row? That’s some­thing to talk about. It’s dif­fer­ent from foot­ball, where you have to wait a whole week to re­deem your­self.

“We need to find an­swers and get right back at it to­mor­row night.”

Chris Paul shook off some early foul trou­ble and scored 16 and DeAn­dre Jor­dan had 15 re­bounds for the Clip­pers, who came in hun­gry after blow­ing an 18-point lead and fall­ing in dou­ble over­time at Brook­lyn on Tues­day.

“It’s who we are, I re­ally be­lieve that,” said Clip­pers coach Doc Rivers.

“We ac­tu­ally played to our po­ten­tial. We had some ad­ver­sity, which is great. Chris got in foul trou­ble and we ex­tended the lead. It was a team win.”

Los An­ge­les took con­trol with a 13-2 run to open the third quar­ter.

Kyrie Irv­ing scored 28 and Kevin Love 16 for the Cavs, who were badly out­played for the sec­ond game in a row.

Dur­ing Tues­day’s loss, coach Ty­ronn Lue pulled his starters in the sec­ond half and J.R. Smith wan­dered off the floor dur­ing play and gave up an easy bas­ket.

This wasn’t much bet­ter, as Lue pulled James, Irv­ing, Smith, Love and Tris­tan Thomp­son with seven min­utes left as it be­came very clear there would be no come­back for the Cavs, who are in their first true slump since win­ning the ti­tle in June.

“They were mo­ti­vated and they came out and played like a des­per­ate team,” Lue said.

Cleve­land failed to make 10 3-point­ers for the first time this sea­son, end­ing its league record to start a sea­son at 16 games.

The Clip­pers outscored Cleve­land 27-15 in the third, when the Cavs showed frus­tra­tion and briefly lost their fo­cus.

The Clip­pers, who opened the sea­son 14-2, took ad­van­tage of Cleve­land’s slop­pi­ness at the start of the third quar­ter and scored eight quick points be­fore Paul’s 3-pointer gave them a 71-52 lead.

“It was im­por­tant for us to see what it felt like to win a game,” said Paul.

“When you’re run­ning them off like we were and then you lose three in a row, you need to get that feel­ing back in your locker room.”

Sheep­ish Cub

James isn’t happy about hav­ing to wear a Cubs uni­form — mi­nus the cleats — to Fri­day’s game in Chicago after he lost a bet on the World Se­ries to Dwyane Wade.

James wa­gered on the Cleve­land In­di­ans, who were beaten in seven games.

“I fill my bets,” he said. “Don’t make fun of me.”

RON SCHWANE / AP

Blake Grif­fin of the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers passes over Cleve­land Cava­liers’ J.R. Smith dur­ing the first half of Thursday’s game in Cleve­land. The Clip­pers won 113-94.

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