BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Joffrey Lauvergne had 18 points and eight rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Chicago Bulls 112-94 on Thursday night in an exhibition at the University of Colorado’s Coors Event Center.
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CHICAGO (AP)–Michael Jordan is due in court for the start of a civil trial that’ll ask just how valuable is the basketball star’s identity.
CHICAGO (AP) — LeBron James struggled to score 15 points, Kyrie Irving limped off the court and the Cleveland Cavaliers still beat the Chicago Bulls 94-73 on Thursday night to clinch their Eastern Conference semifinal series in six games.
Matthew Dellavedova scored 19 points and Tristan Thompson added 13 points and 17 rebounds to help the Cavaliers advance to the conference final for the first time since 2009 even though their superstar played like a mere mortal and their All-Star point guard hobbled to the locker room in the first half.
Despite all that, Cleveland is right where it expected to be after James decided to come home from Miami and return to his first team. The Cavaliers didn’t expect to get there like this, though — with Kevin Love suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in the opening round and Irving trying to gut through problems with both legs.
(AP) Cleveland – Among the multitude of highlights in the long-running clash between LeBron James and the Chicago Bulls, the big moments in this playoff series may stand alone.
Two former MVPs, two buzzer-beaters, two wins apiece.
With this Eastern Conference semifinal now a best-of-three, those dramatics only figure to increase Tuesday night when the series shifts back to Cleveland for a critical Game 5 after James gave the Cavaliers a thrilling win in Chicago.
Derrick Rose handed the Bulls a 2-1 advantage with a last-second 3-pointer in a 99-96 win in Game 3 before James answered Sunday by knocking down a long jumper from the corner to lift Cleveland to an 86-84 victory.
That final play was initially designed with James throwing the inbound pass from beneath Cleveland’s basket – a plan the four-time MVP instantly rejected.
“I told Coach (David Blatt) there was no way I’m taking the ball out unless I could shoot it over the backboard and go in,” James said. “So I told him, ‘Have somebody else take the ball out.’ The play that was drawn up, I scratched it. I just told Coach, ‘Just give me the ball. We’re either going to go into overtime or I’m going to win it for us.'”
James also carried Cleveland to victory in Game 2, scoring 22 first-half points en route to a 19-point halftime lead and eventual 106-91 victory.
Rose and Jimmy Butler claimed that leading role from James in Chicago’s two victories. They combined to score 45 in Game 1 and 50 points – 23 in the fourth quarter – in Game 3.
Rose has particularly impressed with an average of 30.5 points over the last two games, but with Pau Gasol sidelined by a strained hamstring, the 84 points Sunday matched the Bulls’ third-lowest total this season.
“Pau, the way that he scores, just his presence on the floor, the way that he shoots the ball, rebounds the ball, is huge,” Rose told the team’s official website. “But I think the guys who stepped in did their jobs and they played well. We lost the game, for sure, but I love our mentality.”
Gasol is a game-time decision, and the Bulls will again look to Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson should the All-Star forward be unable to play. They combined for 21 points and 17 rebounds in Game 3, but stumbled to only nine points and 11 boards Sunday.
Outside of Rose and Butler, no Bulls player scored in double figures in Game 4.
Kyrie Irving is also dealing with injuries that have limited him to 11.5 points per game over the last two. Unlike Chicago, however, the Cavaliers got support from their reserves Sunday, namely J.R. Smith, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 in the fourth.
A similar performance may again be necessary moving forward given Irving’s status. An MRI taken Monday revealed that in addition to a sprained right foot suffered during Cleveland’s first round series with Boston, Irving also has tendinitis in his left knee.
“It’s just about finding ways to be more effective, especially being out there,” Irving said. “I still can shoot. You still have to respect me out there. It’s not like they can just leave me or anything like that. But I just try to use myself as a decoy and make plays as best I can.”
James skipped Tuesday’s morning shootaround after hurting his ankle when he stepped on one of Rose’s feet on a drive to the basket Sunday. He says he’s getting treatment for the injury but will play.
Joakim Noah, whose trash talk in Game 3 was deemed “disrespectful” by James, grabbed 15 rebounds Sunday and will try to help the Bulls snap a losing postseason trend in Cleveland, where they’ve dropped four of five playoff games.
“We’re right where we want to be,” Noah said. “We’re really excited for Game 5.”
(AP) CHICAGO — LeBron James watched his coach draw up the final play — and then drew one up of his own.
“Give me the ball and get out of the way,” he said.
James overruled Cleveland coach David Blatt’s idea for a last-second inbounds play and drained a jumper from the corner at the buzzer to give the Cavaliers an 86-84 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, evening the Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.
During a stoppage the Cavs only got because the officials were reviewing a play, Blatt designed a play that had James taking the ball out. The four-time NBA MVP has been in enough pressure situations that he vetoed his coach.
“I was supposed to take the ball out,” James said. “I told Coach there was no way I’m taking the ball out unless I could shoot it over the backboard and go in. So I told him, ‘Have somebody else take the ball out.’ The play that was drawn up, I scratched it. I just told Coach, ‘Just give me the ball. We’re either going to go into overtime or I’m going to win it for us.’”
James, playing the final quarter on a sprained left ankle, finished with 25 points to help the Cavaliers win in another wild finish, returning the favor after Chicago took Game 3 on Derrick Rose’s banked 3-pointer at the horn.
This time, James got whistled for an offensive foul when he elbowed Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Rose scored on a driving layup with 9.4 seconds left. Blatt tried to call a timeout but didn’t have one and assistant Tyronn Lue alertly pulled him off the court.
Also on Sunday:
Clippers 128, Rockets 95: LOS ANGELES — DeAndre Jordan scored 26 points, surviving Houston’s intentional-foul fest in the first half, and the Los Angeles Clippers won to take a 3-1 lead and put the Rockets on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference semifinals. Jordan made 14 of 34 free throws, attempting an NBA playoff-record 28 in the first half, and had 17 rebounds. Blake Griffin added 21 points, J.J. Redick had 18 points and Chris Paul finished with 15 points and 12 assists in the Clippers’ second straight blowout win in the best-of-7 series.
CHICAGO (AP) — Derrick Rose wanted to make one thing clear about his winning 3-pointer. He did not call glass.
Rose banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer and scored 30 points Friday night to give the Chicago Bulls a 99-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
”I’m just thankful and grateful that my teammates gave me the ball,” he said. ”They believed in me down the stretch. They kept getting me the ball, kept encouraging me to play the way that I usually play. And no, I did not call glass.”
Cleveland had just tied it on a 3-pointer by J.R. Smith with 10.8 seconds left when Rose came through with the winner off a sideline inbounds play.
The play called for him to get the ball in the corner, but he could not find an opening there. Instead, he took the inbounds from Mike Dunleavy Jr. on the wing and dribbled to his right, past the top of the key. Then, as time expired, he banked in a 26-footer over Tristan Thompson.
That drew a mob from his teammates and a deafening roar from the crowd for a hometown star limited in recent years by injuries to both knees. Rose has played well at times in these playoffs – the first for him since 2012. But he also committed a late turnover and got beaten on a last-second layup in a loss to Milwaukee in Game 4 of the first round.
This, by far, was his biggest shot of the postseason.
”It was huge,” said Jimmy Butler, who scored 20 for Chicago. ”We needed that. That’s what he does.”
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Rose, Gasol pace Bulls to 99-92 win over Cavs in Game 1 The Associated Press
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NBA playoff results: Cavaliers dominate Game 2, Rockets try to avoid 0-2 hole SB Nation
LeBron James, who scored 27 for Cleveland despite shooting 8 of 25, said there was nothing Thompson could do about that shot.
”You follow the game plan, they make a shot – you live with it,” he said. ”It’s when you make mistakes during the game plan, those would be the ones that are hard to live with. I know it’s easy for me to say that. The shot was not made on me. The guy took a tough shot. Tip your hat to him.”
James passed Tony Parker, Steve Nash and Larry Bird for fourth on the career playoff assists list. He had 14 in the game, giving him 1,073.
Chicago never won more than one game in three previous playoff series against teams led by James. But the Bulls have a chance to take a commanding lead with Game 4 at home on Sunday.
Smith, back from a two-game suspension, scored 14 points. Kyrie Irving, playing with a sore foot that started bothering him in the first round against Boston, had just 11 points and no assists. He shot 3 of 13 and the only baskets he made were on 3-pointers.
Rose and Butler combined to score 23 of Chicago’s 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Dunleavy finished the game with 16 points, and Nikola Mirotic scored 12 after playing sparingly the first two games. The Bulls also outrebounded Cleveland 54-39, outscored them 44-28 in the paint and had 18 second-chance points compared to seven for the Cavaliers.