LeBron James Criticizes Refs for Lack of Foul Calls After Cavs’ Loss to Spurs

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James was not pleased that he attempted a mere four free throws in his team’s 110-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

Cleveland.com shared some of the criticism James directed toward the officiating:

“We’re at a point now where we protect the shooter more than the driver,” James said. “There’s no reason I should be going to the line four times in a game when I drive 100 times to the paint and I’m getting hit, slapped and grabbed.”

James’ Cavaliers shot just 14 free throws in the loss, while the Spurs attempted 32 shots from the charity stripe.

         

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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LeBron James, New-Look Cavaliers Crushed by LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs (36-25) snapped a four-game losing streak and defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 110-94, at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday afternoon. 

The win handed the Spurs a season sweep of the Cavaliers (35-24), who have lost two of their last three games. 

LaMarcus Aldridge spearheaded the victorious effort with a team-high 27 points (9-of-20 shooting) and six rebounds. 

Danny Green was also superb as he dropped 22 points off the bench against the team that selected him 46th overall in the 2009 NBA draft.

San Antonio also returned to form defensively—at least for one day

Although the Spurs entered the cross-conference clash allowing a 22nd-ranked 110.8 points per 100 possessions in February, according to NBA.com, they locked up the Cavaliers’ fifth-ranked offense to the tune of 41.8 percent shooting from the field, including 8-of-34 from three. 

The Cavaliers are now shooting a combined 27-of-98 (27.6 percent) on long-range looks in three games since the All-Star break. 

Absent a rhythm, Cleveland leaned on LeBron James to keep the offense afloat. 

In 40 minutes, James put up a game-high 33 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists as he flirted with his 12th triple-double of the season. 

By comparison, Cleveland’s four other starters combined for 14 points while only one (Tristan Thompson) boasted at least two made field goals. 

Jordan Clarkson (17 points) and Jeff Green (14 points) provided steady buckets off the bench, but those contributions were hardly enough to keep pace against a Spurs squad that fielded seven double-figure scorers. 

Speaking of San Antonio’s balance, Bryn Forbes and Dejounte Murray both came through on a day when Tony Parker was held scoreless and Manu Ginobili was sidelined because of a bruised sternum. 

Forbes chipped in 12 points off the pine, while San Antonio’s ascendant floor general piled up 13 points, nine boards, five dimes, four steals and three blocks in a performance that showcased his rapid evolution on both ends of the floor. 

The Spurs will return home Wednesday for a showdown against the New Orleans Pelicans after spending more than two weeks on the road. The Cavaliers will also be home Tuesday when they host the Brooklyn Nets. 

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Report: Ersan Ilyasova Finalizing 76ers Contract Once Hawks Complete Buyout

Veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova plans on signing with the Philadelphia 76ers once the Atlanta Hawks finalize a contract buyout, The Vertical’s Shams Charania reported Sunday.

Ilyasova appeared in 53 games for the Sixers a year ago and averaged 14.8 points and shot 35.9 percent from beyond the arc. Through 46 games with the Hawks this season, the 30-year-old is posting 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

    

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

    

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Jimmy Butler Out Indefinitely After Successful Surgery on Knee Injury

Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler will be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee, the team announced Sunday.

Butler injured his knee in Minnesota’s 120-102 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday.

The Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson reported Saturday that Butler was hoping to return in time for the start of the 2018 NBA playoffs, while The Vertical’s Shams Charania reported the four-time All-Star could be back in four to six weeks.

    

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

    

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Gregg Popovich Defends ‘Very Special’ LeBron James, Rips Laura Ingraham

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has never been afraid to speak his mind on social issues, and he is now supporting LeBron James‘ right to do the same.

On Sunday, Popovich defended James against comments from Fox News host Laura Ingraham and also discussed the positive example the superstar has made for young kids, via Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz:

Cleveland.com provided full video of the comments:

The latest controversy started when James and Kevin Durant discussed social issues and U.S. President Donald Trump on The Undefeated, and Ingraham responded by telling them to “shut up and dribble,” via Scott Gleeson of USA Today.

James didn’t back down from his comments in his response to Ingraham.

“We will definitely not shut up and dribble. I will definitely not do that,” the Cavaliers star said during the All-Star break, per Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News. “I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to so many kids who feel like they don’t have a way out and need someone to help lead them out of the situation they’re in.”

Popovich echoed this sentiment Sunday, comparing the four-time MVP to the Black Panther as a superhero for young kids to idolize. He noted we should be “very proud” to have someone like that in our society.

Like James, Popovich has not hidden from statements that have little on the surface to do with basketball. The coach recently referred to the United States as a “racist country” while noting the importance of Black History Month, per USA Today.

He also has spoken negatively about Trump on a variety of occasions.

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Gordon Hayward Traveling with Celtics Discussed by Brad Stevens

While Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward remains unlikely to return to the court this season, he may be able to travel with his teammates in March depending on how his work on an antigravity treadmill progresses.

“It doesn’t look like it’s any time in the next couple of weeks,” head coach Brad Stevens said, per Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. “We talked the other day. He’s gonna do another AlterG process or progress starting on Sunday where he goes from 60 percent of his body weight all the way to 100, and then once he gets to 100—once he can do stuff where he’s running or jumping—then it makes sense to bring him on the road.”

Murphy wrote, “Though Stevens has often talked of Hayward eventually traveling with his teammates, it was more in the spirit of camaraderie than actually returning to action this season.”

    

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Stan Van Gundy on 1-and-Done Rule: ‘I Think a Lot of It Was Racist’

Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy expressed his feelings on the one-and-done rule Sunday before his team squared off against the Charlotte Hornets. 

“People that were against [players] coming out [of high school] made a lot of excuses, but I think a lot of it was racist,” he said, according to the Detroit Free PressVince Ellis. “I’ve never heard anybody go up in arms about [minor-league baseball or hockey].”

Van Gundy also took aim at the NCAA in the aftermath of a Yahoo Sports report that detailed how several prominent college basketball programs and players allegedly violated the organization’s rules on amateurism. 

“The NCAA is one of the worst organizations—maybe the worst organization—in sports,” he said, per Ellis. “They certainly don’t care about the athlete.”

As far as the one-and-done rule is concerned, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently told reporters at his annual All-Star press briefing the league is “conflicted” about whether or not it should eliminate the requirement for players to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school to declare for the draft. 

“We’re conflicted, to be honest. We’re outside of our cycle of collective bargaining right now, which is when we generally address an issue like that,” he said. “But [NBPA executive director] Michele Roberts and I have also agreed there’s no reason we shouldn’t at least be discussing it right now. …

We think we have a better draft when we’ve had an opportunity to see these young players play at an elite level before they come into the NBA. On the other hand, I think the question for the league is: In terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger? Are we better off bringing them into the league when they’re 18, using our G League as it was designed to be, as a development league, and getting them minutes on the court there?”

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