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Cavaliers rout visiting Bucks

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CLEVELAND — After two devastating losses, the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a breather.

They got it in the form of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Cavs smashed the Bucks, 93-78, on Friday before 17,147 at Quicken Loans Arena.

“(It was a) good performance by our team, especially after the two losses,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “I thought our guys stepped up. We looked a little tired since we’ve got back from the West Coast trip.”

Most of the fans weren’t even settled in their seats when Brown called a timeout.

He jumped all over his players.

Brown didn’t want a replay of the Cavs’ last two losses.

“Our physicality wasn’t there,” Brown said. “I was more concerned with our defensive presence. They didn’t feel us. That was my message.”

The Cavs quickly ran off a 17-0 run and never trailed again. They limited the Bucks to 40.5 percent shooting from the field.

“Defense is going to win us games,” Cavs guard Kyrie Irving said. “We did a great job of competing.”

Swingman Khris Middleton had a team-high 13 points for the Bucks (8-34), who have now lost 10 of their last 11. Swingman Giannis Antetokounmpo added 10 points.

Center Anderson Varejao had a game-high 16 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

He converted 8-of-11 shots from the field, 4-of-4 in the third quarter when the Cavs (16-27) moved to a 71-55 advantage. Almost all his shots came on perimeter jumpers from the elbows.

Power forward Tristan Thompson recorded his 21st double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Irving, who will start in the All-Star Game, posted his fifth double-double with 10 points, 10 assists and three rebounds. More importantly, Irving had no turnovers in 28 minutes.

“He’s making good decisions with the basketball,” Brown said.

Irving said he liked the energy in which the Cavs played.

“The last two games, we came out sluggish,” he said. “But tonight we took care of business.”

Milwaukee coach Larry Drew wasn’t thrilled with his team’s effort.

“I was expecting our guys to come out here with a little more firepower, particularly after an impressive win against Detroit (on Wednesday),” he said. “(The Cavs) were clearly the aggressor from start to finish. We didn’t play with a sense of urgency (in the second half), and that’s clearly on me. That’s my responsibility.”

The Cavs abused the Bucks on the boards, 52-34, including a 21-8 edge on the offensive glass.

“They really crash the offensive glass,” Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova said. “Thompson and Varejao, that’s their strengths. It’s all about finding guys and boxing them off. It’s all about effort.”

The Cavs are now 1-2 on their five-game homestand that concludes on Tuesday.

“I’ll take this every game,” Brown said. “It was great, listening to our guys talking on the bench. They were saying, ‘Keep taking care of business. Keep playing the right way.’ This is a good learning process for us.”

Brown said the defensive effort was spearheaded by Irving.

“Kyrie made Brandon Knight work tonight,” he said. “He did a nice job of trying to stay up in him.”

Knight was limited to just eight points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Guard Dion Waiters had 13 points for the Cavs, 10 in the second quarter. He had eight rebounds and three assists.

Backup center Tyler Zeller added eight points, nine assists and three blocks.

“He’s been playing out of his mind,” Irving said of the 7-footer. “He’s doing everything we’ve asked of him.”

The Bucks, who have the worst record in the NBA, was what the doctor ordered for the Cavs.

“After coming off two losses, our guys stepped up,” Brown said. “We’ve looked a little tired after the West Coast trip.”

NOTES: Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving is campaigning for an invitation to the 3-point shootout during All-Star weekend in New Orleans. “There have only been a few back-to-back champs,” Irving said. “If they ask me to come back, I’ll definitely come back.” … Irving was named a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star Game and was among 28 players on Team USA’s national team on Thursday. “It’s a great honor to be part of the U.S. Olympic roster and being a starter,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, something I’ve dreamt about as a kid.” … Cavs C Anderson Varejao came into Friday’s game 15 rebounds shy of 4,000 in his career. … The Bucks have been going big with 6-10 Ekpe Udoh, 6-10 Ersan Ilyasova, 6-11 John Henson and 6-9 Giannis Antetokounmpo in the starting lineup. “It gives us more flexibility,” Bucks coach Larry Drew said. … Udoh sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return. … Bucks G O.J. Mayo (virus) and C Larry Sanders (cold) aren’t completely healthy, but Drew said they’d play. … Drew’s son, Larry II, is playing for Sioux Falls in the D-League. He recently faced Antetokounmpo’s 6-7 brother, Thanasis, who is playing for Delaware. “(Thanasis is) a different player,” coach Drew said. “He’s really active. He’s athletic.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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Mike D’Antoni to step away as Nets assistant coach

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On Wednesday evening, the Brooklyn Nets organization announced that assistant coach Mike D’Antoni would not be returning to Steve Nash’s coaching staff for the 2021-22 NBA season. Coach D’Antoni is deciding to step down from his position after one season spent with the organization. The reason D’Antoni is deciding to leave the team is unknown. In late June, D’Antoni met with the Portland Trail Blazers for the vacant head-coaching position; he was interviewed twice.

From ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the 70-year-old veteran coach is still seeking to pursue another job as head coach. Coach Nash commented on the story stating, “I will forever be grateful for his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together. Our players and staff all benefited from this time in Brooklyn and we wish Mike, Laurel, and their family the very best in what lies ahead.” This news has personally shocked Nash, considering their history together.

In his 16-year NBA head coaching career, D’Antoni’s W-L record is 718-555 (.564). Despite never winning an NBA championship, D’Antoni won the 2005 Coach of the Year award with the Phoenix Suns when Nash was his star point guard, and he won his second award while coaching the Houston Rockets in 2017. The 2004-05 Suns finished 62-20 (.756), ranking first in the Pacific Division and first overall in the Western Conference. However, the Suns went on to lose four games to one against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.

The 2017-18 Rockets ended their season 65-17 (.793), ranking first in the Southwest Division and first in the Western Conference Finals. Though, once again, D’Antoni’s team came up short, losing in Game 7 versus the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Coach D’Antoni was also the NBA All-Star Game head coach in 2007 and 2018. Moreover, the Nets lost another assistant coach this offseason after the Boston Celtics hired Ime Udoka to become their next head coach. On July 9, 2021, the Nets hired former Trail Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool to their coaching staff.

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NBA releases schedule for Summer League 2021

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On Wednesday, the NBA announced the broadcast schedule for the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA had to cancel the Las Vegas Summer League last year in 2020. Fast forward to today, the 17th annual NBA Summer League will air live this year in Las Vegas, Nevada from August 8-17. During the 10-day tournament, the 75 total games will be broadcasted on these network channels: NBA TV, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPNews.

Plus, the games can be watched live with the ESPN app. WatchESPN is free, but according to ESPN.com, the user must be a subscriber of a major cable service, such as AT&T U-Verse, BendBroadband, or Xfinity. Anyways, through the NBA.com website, tickets can be bought via the NBA Events section of the site. Each of the 30 NBA teams will play a total of five games over the course of the short, competitive tournament.

The Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion stadiums will host six to eight games per day. According to the 2021 schedule, for games 17-22 on Tuesday, August 10th, only six games will be played this day. The 75th game of the competition, the final matchup, will be the championship game. The 28 teams that fail to qualify for the championship game will play their fifth and final game on either August 16th or 17th. The title game is scheduled for Tuesday, August 17th at 9:00 p.m. (EST) on ESPN.

The Summer League 2021 tips off with a matchup between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks at the Cox Pavilion. This game is scheduled for Sunday, August 8th at 1:00 p.m. (EST) on NBA TV. The first four teams selecting in the 2021 NBA Draft will also be playing on this day: Detroit Pistons (No. 1 pick), Houston Rockets (No. 2 pick), Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 3 pick), and the Toronto Raptors (No. 4 pick). At the Thomas & Mack Center, the Raptors vs. Knicks game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2. Then, the Trail Blazers will face the Hornet at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on NBA TV.

For the opening game on the second day, the Pelicans will play the Bulls at 3:00 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2, followed by the Mavericks versus 76ers at 4:00 p.m. (EST) on NBA TV. There are several different games viewers can choose to watch over this 10-day span. Brandon Clarke was the most recent player to win the Las Vegas MVP award, in the Summer League of 2019. Clarke was drafted 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2019 NBA Draft.

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NBA Trade Rumors: Bradley Beal never requested a trade, remains committed to Wizards

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This NBA offseason has been a frustrating one for some die-hard fans, especially Washington Wizards‘ fans. On June 18, 2021, news broke concerning shooting guard Bradley Beal announcing his commitment to play for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team. A few weeks ago, it was reported by USA Basketball that Beal would not play in the Tokyo Olympics. And, this was because the 28-year-old three-time NBA All-Star had to enter the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Missouri native.

In an interview published by CBS Sports on July 15, 2021, regarding the chance to play for USA Basketball, Beal told CBS’ Michael Kaskey-Blomain, “It’s an honor. It’s something that you take for granted. Not a lot of guys in the league get this opportunity. We all know that. We didn’t live up to what we wanted to a few years ago (in the 2019 FIBA World Cup), and so now we have an opportunity to get back what’s rightfully ours.”

In 2010, Beal won the FIBA-Under 17 World Cup MVP. Though, everyone can see his passion for basketball. Needless to say, it is an awful experience for any athlete to have to bow out of the Olympics. In addition to this unfortunate news, there is all kinds of speculation across the Internet concerning Beal’s future with the Wizards. From Boston.com, it was reported two days ago that Beal would welcome a trade if he was moved to the Boston Celtics. The report also included three other teams: Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers. This latest news information was originally reported by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. Last Saturday, Fischer stated, “Boston’s path to securing Beal would appear far more costly, as the Celtics’ offer almost certainly has to include Jaylen Brown and all of their future draft picks they are able to part with.”

Although the report could still be accurate, many fans are asking for more evidence to help support this claim. This is Beal’s team; he was drafted by Washington third overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. Would the Wizards be wiling to trade their star player for Jaylen Brown and potential future draft picks? This remains to be seen. Plus, everyone should keep in mind that although Beal was open to a trade, at least he never demanded an immediate trade. The latest news is likely just trade rumors and meaningless gossip.

Moreover, the 2020-21 Wizards finished 34-38 (.472), ranking third in the Southeast Division and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference. The team lost four games to one in the first round of the postseason against the 76ers. The Wizards have not appeared in the NBA Finals since the 1978-79 season, and they have not won the championship since the 1977-78 season, when they defeated the Seattle Supersonics in Game 7 105-99. Not to mention, the Wizards were called the Bullets back then.

After the season ended, the organization agreed to part ways with head coach Scott Brooks. Perhaps Coach Brooks leaving the team is leading Beal to ask more questions about his own future. According to one report by NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk, Beal was irked over the organization hiring Wes Unseld Jr. over Sam Cassell for the vacant head coach position. How much does this play into trade talks?

Well, we all know that Beal is a competitive player, so three consecutive losing seasons by Washington might not be cutting it for him. Then again, a great player should be willing to give a new coach a chance. Last season, in 60 games played, the six-foot-three guard averaged 31.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. The 9-year NBA veteran also shot 48.5 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. In the 2021 All-Star Game, in 31 minutes played, Beal scored 26 points.

On October 17, 2019, Beal signed a two-year, $72 million extension with Washington. He earned $28.7 million this past season, and he will earn $34.5 million in the upcoming 2021-22 season. Beal’s player option for the 2022-23 season is also $37.2 million. So, folks should keep in mind that Beal is still showing his loyalty to the Wizards. He is only considering a trade request before the draft. The key word here is “considering.” Having said this, not even LeBron James is safe from a trade in this league. Ok, maybe only James is safe.

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