Four new­com­ers bring­ing en­ergy

Cava­liers pay back Thunder for blowout last month.

Dayton Daily News - - SPORTS - By Marla Ri­de­nour

Dur­ing the Cava­liers’ eight days off dur­ing the All-Star break, NBA an­a­lysts will con- tinue to de­bate whether their dra­matic ros­ter shake-up at Thurs­day’s trade dead­line made them the fa­vorites to win the Eastern Con­fer­ence.

But af­ter just two games with the four new­com­ers, it looks like the Cavs have found the right blend of young and old, a mix of vet­eran play­ers who LeBron James re­spects and three 25-year-olds with whom he loves to play.

Fac­ing a Thunder team Tues­day night that blew out the Cavs by 24 points in Cleveland on Jan. 20, the Cavs again showed en­ergy, ef­fort on de­fense and fire- power from their 2016 cham­pi­onship core and their in­com­ing tal­ent.

Coach Ty­ronn Lue played James, J.R. Smith, Larry Nance Jr., Jor­dan Clark­son and Jeff Green in the fourth quar­ter.

The Cavs (34-22) im­pressed for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game, turn­ing back the Thunder 120-112 in Ok­la­homa City.

James scored on a driv- ing layup with 49.6 sec­onds left to put the Cavs ahead by nine, but Paul Ge­orge cut it to six with a 3-pointer. Nance, an Akron na­tive, made two free throws with 34 sec­onds to go be­fore Carmelo An­tho- ny’s 3-pointer.

On the Thunder’s next trip, Smith grabbed a de­fen­sive re­bound and threw a touch­down pass to Nance break­ing to­ward the hoop. Nance dunked for a 119-112 lead with 11.6 sec­onds to go.

James had 37 points, eight re­bounds and eight as­sists. The Cavs got 48 points out of new play­ers Jor­dan Clark­son (14), Rod­ney Hood (14), Ge­orge Hill (seven) and Nance (13) af­ter they com­bined for 49 Sun­day in Bos­ton.

Watch­ing the Cavs, there was no hint they were play­ing their last game be­fore the break. They seemed fo­cused and busi­nesslike, even if they still couldn’t put the clamps on 7-foot cen­ter Steven Adams. On one trip down­court in the third quar­ter, Adams shot six free throws thanks to Thunder re­bound­ing, and made three. He fin­ished with 22 points and 17 re­bounds.

The Cavs con­cluded a three-game road trip 3-0 and won their fourth in a row.

Any­one try­ing to gauge James’ re­ac­tion to GM Koby Alt­man’s three stun­ning trades with four teams that sent out six play­ers got even more of an af­fir­ma­tion than he gave Sun­day with a 24-8-10 stat line in a rout at Bos­ton.

James scored 17 in the third quar­ter. He shot 14 of 23 from the field and 3 of 7 on 3-point­ers. In the third quar­ter, he was 7 of 10 and 2 of 4 on 3-point­ers.

Smith con­tin­ued his re­cent hot streak, to­tal­ing 18 points on 6-of-10 shoot­ing, 6 of 9 on 3-point­ers.

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