Doc Rivers: 'Not cool' for Cavs to rest LeBron for primetime game

Doc Rivers: 'Not cool' for Cavs to rest LeBron for primetime game

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES -- When the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to rest LeBron JamesKyrie Irving and Kevin Love in the same game, they also provided a welcome boost to the Los Angeles Clippers, who got to sit their own starters for the entire fourth quarter of a predictably one-sided victory.

The fans paying for high-priced Staples Center seats, or tuning in for a national television game between title contenders?

They all lost out, thanks to the unsavory choices prompted by the NBA's demanding schedule.

Blake Griffin scored 23 points and the Clippers snapped their three-game losing streak with a 108-78 win over Cleveland on Saturday night.

But the Clippers' domination of the Cavs' supporting cast added another chapter to the NBA's long-running debate on rest. Coaches are increasingly choosing caution over competitiveness, and both Cleveland's Tyronn Lue and Los Angeles' Doc Rivers expressed ambivalence about the choice Lue felt he had to make.

"There is a fan base that probably bought tickets tonight to see LeBron James play for the first time," said Rivers, who rested Griffin on Thursday. "They didn't get a chance to see that, and that's not cool."

The crowd hated Lue's decision, reacting with confusion when the starting lineups were announced and then booing James when he joined the Cavs on the bench early in the first quarter. "We Want LeBron!" chants were taken up by much of the crowd on several occasions.

"I heard," Lue said. "I wanted him, too."

Lue said Love already was scheduled to sit out this game in his comeback from left knee surgery, and Irving left Thursday's game at Utah early with tightness in his own left knee. With the Cavs beginning a stretch of eight games in 14 days, Lue also decided to rest James instead of allowing him to play without his full supporting cast.

"It's a long season, and a lot of games," Lue said. "We have a lot of back-to-back games. Everybody has. Four in five nights are tough. Five in seven are tough. ... But it's been going on for years. It's not the first time we've done it. I think coaches are taking responsibility, trying to look after their players, make sure they get the proper rest."

James didn't speak to reporters before heading out into the Hollywood night, but Lue said the superstar didn't like the decision. Lue said his three stars all will return Sunday night against the woeful Lakers.

CLIPS CRUISE:
The result was not surprising - and perhaps just what the Clippers needed to shake up their team in a humdrum March. Los Angeles (41-29) had lost six of 10, and Oklahoma City is a half-game behind the Clippers for fifth place in the Western Conference.

J.J. Redick added 16 points as the Clippers swept their season series with the Cavs. Griffin poured in 13 points in the third quarter while Los Angeles pulled away.

"Playing against the best is the reason everyone wants to play in the NBA," Griffin said. "But at the same time, we'll take all of these wins. It's a bit of both. Not clear-cut one way or the other."

THE LEFTOVERS:
Channing Frye, Deron Williams and J.R. Smith started for Cleveland in the stars' place along with Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson. All five starters hit double figures.

The Cavaliers (45-22) have lost five of eight, but still lead Boston by 1 1/2 games atop the Eastern Conference. Richard Jefferson scored 12 to lead the Cavs in their lowest-scoring game of the season.

NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME:
For the second straight week, ABC's showcase Saturday night game was dampened by a coach's decision to sit his best players. Golden State's Steve Kerr sat Stephen CurryKlay ThompsonDraymond Green and Andre Iguodala for a showdown with San Antonio last week.

Rivers said the Saturday national games used to be protected against these problems because their afternoon starts prevented a team from being forced to play Friday night. The showcase is now an evening game.

"I think that we have to protect the national games," Rivers said. "We have to treat those games like they're afternoon games, and you don't play the night before, and you don't play the next night after. It sounds so easy, but it is not, because it's hard to schedule around that. It makes the rest of the schedule harder ... but the look of (these last two) back-to-back ABC national games is not good."

TIP-INS:
Cavaliers: Shumpert played after spraining his left shoulder Thursday. ... Kyle Korver also missed his sixth straight game with a foot injury. Lue still hopes he can play on this road trip.

Clippers: Rivers flatly rejected a widely reported rumor of a possible reunion with the Orlando Magic: "I have a past with the Magic. I have no future. My future is here." Rivers coached the Magic from 1999-03. ... Chris Paul went 0 for 8 from the floor, but had seven assists.

UP NEXT:
Cavaliers: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Clippers: Host the New York Knicks on Monday.

Jazz hold off Clippers in Game 5, take 3-2 series lead

Jazz hold off Clippers in Game 5, take 3-2 series lead

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES -- Gordon Hayward scored 27 points, Utah controlled the paint, and the Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers 96-92 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Hayward returned after missing most of Utah's win in Game 4 because of food poisoning that caused him to lose weight and energy.

Chris Paul's 3-pointer drew the Clippers within two with 5 seconds left. After George Hill hit two free throws, Paul struggled getting the ball under control near the sideline and couldn't do anything as time expired.

The Jazz made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including three by Rodney Hood, who finished with 16 points.

Paul led the Clippers with 28 points and J.J. Redick added 26 with injured star Blake Griffin watching from the bench, his right foot encased in a black walking boot.

The Jazz can clinch the series with a victory in Game 6 on Friday night in Salt Lake City.

The Clippers rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the fourth to tie the game. They made 12 of 15 free throws in the final period, but never managed to take the lead.

Paul and Hayward were called for double technical fouls with 40 seconds to go. Paul had already pushed Hayward in the back after they got tied up scrambling for a rebound in front of Utah's bench. Hayward made both shots for a 90-85 lead.

Joe Johnson's step back jumper extended Utah's lead to 92-87.

Neither team shot well, but the Jazz were better at most everything else. They owned a 34-28 edge in the paint, and the team that has done so has won each of the first five games in the best-of-7 series.

Utah outscored the Clippers on second-chance and fast-break baskets.

Utah took the game's first double-digit lead early in the fourth on a 3-pointer by Hood that made it 69-58.

The Clippers clawed back with an 11-0 run featuring five straight free throws by Redick and two consecutive 3-pointers from Paul that tied the game at 69-all.

Suddenly, the quiet crowd was on its feet cheering and Utah called time out.

The Jazz regrouped to take a 77-69 lead. They ran off eight straight, capped by Haywood's 3-pointer after the Clippers' defense shut down Hill inside and forced him to pass out to the perimeter with the shot clock winding down.

TIP-INS:
Jazz: Neither team has won by more than eight points so far in the series.

Clippers: Griffin's injured big right toe needs further evaluation before it's decided whether he'll require surgery. ... G Austin Rivers played 17 minutes in his return from a strained left hamstring. He was 0 of 4 and had two points. ... They fell to 1-11 all-time in Game 5 of a playoff series that was tied 2-2.

 

Blazers GM: Former Warriors big man will not play for Portland next year

Blazers GM: Former Warriors big man will not play for Portland next year

Festus Ezeli will not be back with the Blazers next season, Portland GM Neil Olshey said on Tuesday.

Last summer -- after the Warriors let Ezeli walk in free agency following the addition of Kevin Durant -- he signed a 2-year contract worth just over $15 million.

But Year 2 was essentially a club option with a $1 million buyout.

A knee injury prevented Ezeli from ever suiting up for the Blazers this season.

He underwent cadaver ligament replacement surgery in early March.

The Warriors drafted Ezeli 30th overall in 2012.

Over 46 games (13 starts) with Golden State in 2015-16, he averaged 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds over 16.7 minutes per contest.