LeBron leads Cava­liers romp as War­riors crash

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LeBron James led the Cleve­land Cava­liers in a sea­son-open­ing rout of the New York Knicks on Tues­day as the vaunted Golden State War­riors su­per-team suf­fered a re­sound­ing first night thrash­ing.

James notched a triple-dou­ble as Cleve­land trounced the new-look Knicks 117-88 on a night when the Cavs were for­mally pre­sented with their di­a­mond-en­crusted 2015-2016 cham­pi­onship rings. A fes­tive at­mos­phere in­side the Quicken Loans Arena was height­ened by the fact that Cleve­land’s base­ball team, the In­di­ans, were host­ing-and beat­ing — the Chicago Cubs in the World Series Opener also Tues­day.

News of the In­di­ans’ open­ing runs against the Cubs was greeted with deaf­en­ing cheers and chants of “Let’s Go Tribe!” through­out the game.

James, who re­turned to the Cava­liers in 2014 on a mis­sion to lead his home­town team to NBA glory, ad­dressed the home crowd in the pre­match cer­e­monies.

“If you’re not from here, live here, play here, or get your­self to Cleve­land, then it makes no sense for you to live at this point,” James said. “Cleve­land against the world!”

James, who fin­ished with 19 points, 11 re­bounds and 14 as­sists, later spoke of his pride at be­ing able to cel­e­brate the Cavs crown with the city’s fans. “It was a great mo­ment, to be able to re­live our ac­com­plish­ment from last year one more time, some­thing that’s al­ways go­ing to be with us. It was an un­be­liev­able at­mos­phere tonight,” he said. “We want to keep our fans on cloud 20. If we can do that we’ve done our job.”

But while the Cavs re­flected on a solid night’s work, the Knicks were sent back to the draw­ing board. Hav­ing in­vested heav­ily in bring­ing 2011 NBA MVP Der­rick Rose and Chicago team­mate Joakim Noah to the club in the close sea­son, the Knicks are hop­ing to mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge in the East­ern Con­fer­ence this sea­son.

Rose how­ever lamented the New York­ers’ lack of a mean streak after the blowout. “Tonight left a bad taste in ev­ery­body’s mouth,” Rose said, say­ing the team needed to learn to foul tac­ti­cally. “We’ve got to put peo­ple down. We’ve got to foul. Not put them down, but for sure we have to foul them in the open court to make sure (James) doesn’t get the crowd into the game.”

In Oak­land, Golden State’s hopes of em­bark­ing on an­other record-break­ing start to the sea- son-fol­low­ing their 24-0 run last year-came to an abrupt end when they were dis­man­tled 129-100 by West­ern Con­fer­ence ri­vals San An­to­nio.

A night ex­pected to be dom­i­nated by Golden State’s new sign­ing Kevin Du­rant ended with the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard steal­ing the show in a crush­ing rout of last year’s NBA Fi­nals run­ner­sup. Du­rant en­joyed a solid enough scor­ing de­but-weigh­ing in with 27 points but the War­riors were run ragged by Leonard, who posted a ca­reer-high 35 points and LaMar­cus Aldridge (26 points).

Leonard, 25, in­di­cated he is ready to step into the lead­er­ship vac­uum cre­ated by the re­tire­ment of Spurs leg­end Tim Duncan ear­lier this year. “Tim was a great bas­ket­ball player, led this team to five cham­pi­onships and I just want to do the same, to get close to that,” Leonard said.

“Just keep hav­ing a win­ning cul­ture and keep mov­ing for­ward from there.”

The loss was a chas­ten­ing de­feat for the War­riors and coach Steve Kerr after a close-sea­son dom­i­nated by talk of his team’s fear­some at­tack­ing ar­se­nal. “I’m sure we’ll be mo­ti­vated for our next game,” Kerr said. “I think our guys were em­bar­rassed tonight. I know I was.”

War­riors star and reign­ing NBA MVP Stephen Curry de­scribed the loss as a “nice lit­tle slap in the face.” Du­rant mean­while said the War­riors should not panic after only one game of the sea­son. “We can’t over­re­act but we can’t let these games pile up,” Du­rant said. — AFP

CLEVE­LAND: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleve­land Cava­liers dekes Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks be­fore sink­ing a jump shot in the third quar­ter on Tues­day at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleve­land, Ohio. Cleve­land de­feated New York 117-88. — AFP

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