Cavaliers top Grizzlies
Lue: James, Irving, Love won’t play in rematch today at Memphis
The Associated Press
CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers showed they can beat the Grizzlies with only two of their three stars. Now they’ll try to do it with none.
Kevin Love scored 29 points, J.R. Smith found his aim — for one half — and LeBron James added 23 points as the Cavs won their fifth straight, 103-86 on Tuesday over Memphis.
With Kyrie Irving sitting out to get some rest, the Cavs built a 22-point lead in the first half and ended the Grizzlies’ six-game winning streak.
Following the game, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue opened his news conference by announcing that James, Love and Irving will stay home when the Cavs travel to Memphis today.
“They’re not going,” Lue said before telling one surprised reporter to close his mouth.
Lue didn’t want James, who traveled to New York on Monday night to accept the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award, playing in the quirky back-to-back, and Love could use a break because of tightness in his back. Irving complained of “heavy legs” in Saturday’s win over Charlotte and will have a full week off before the Cavs host the Lakers on Saturday.
“It’s a long season and we have opportunities,” James said of Lue’s decision to keep Cleveland’s “Big 3” behind. “Coach has looked at it and he’s going to do what’s in his best judgment for our team going into the future. It’s his call.”
Smith said it will be a challenge to take on the Grizzlies undermanned.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “But we have good players and we will figure it out, hopefully.”
Smith came in shooting a career-low 31 percent from the field and 32 percent on 3s, but he got it going early, dropping four 3-pointers in the first half. His fourth put the Cavs ahead 56-34, and he was 6-of-8 at halftime. He missed his first six shots in the third quarter and finished 8-of-17 — 6-of-10 on 3s.
Memphis rested center Marc Gasol for the first of back-to-back games against the defending NBA champions, but the 7-foot-1 star is expected to play today.
Zach Randolph replaced Gasol in the starting lineup and scored 18 points to lead the Grizzlies.