“It’s not about what the other guys didn’t bring or what these guys bring,” James said on ESPN.
“We’re all professionals, and we were happy with the guys that we had, and we’re going to (be) happy with the guys that we have now. That’s the way the league is, it’s a business. There’s no shade on anybody.”
Cleveland (32-22) acquired Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, George Hill and Rodney Hood on trade-deadline day on Thursday and shipped away Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye.
None of the new acquisitions were in uniform against the Hawks (17-39), who are bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but James and Kyle Korver were more than enough to lead their patchwork line-up on Friday.
James recorded his second straight triple-double and Korver torched his former team as the new-look Cavaliers defeated the Hawks at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
We were happy with the guys that we had, and we’re going to happy with the guys that we have now. it’s a business. There’s no shade on anybody.
LEBRON JAMES ,Cavaliers’ star forward, on the departure of six former team-mates
Despite being short-handed for their game versus the Atlanta Hawks, the Cleveland Cavaliers are lighting it up, with Kyle Korver as their main weapon. Korver not only has 28 points through three quarters, he nailed the buzzer-beater to end the third quarter versus the Hawks:
James finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 19 assists, and Korver scored a season-high 30 points, including seven three-pointers.
Korver spent five seasons with Atlanta, helping the Hawks reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015. He is in his second season with the Cavaliers and is one of the holdovers in Cleveland after Thursday’s barrage of activity.
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said that he will ease in the four players on Saturday (today, Singapore time), before a big match-up on Sunday against Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics.
“More so it’s going to be a walk-through, just trying to teach the new guys the plays and what we’re trying to do defensively,” he said. “Then just kind of go from there.”
“I like the pieces that we have coming in. It’s my job to get these guys integrated as fast as possible.
“I know the coaching staff is going to do it as well, but it’s my job to get these guys on the same page with us where we want to accomplish what we want to do.”
Wrap-Up — Don’t look now, but the Cavaliers are having fun playing the game again.
Just one day after a series of Deadline trades essentially reshaped the roster, the Wine & Gold looked like a different team than the one that’s been mired in a fog since Christmas Day – jumping on the Lottery-bound Hawks late in the first quarter and never looking back, taking the 123-107 decision on Friday night in Atlanta.
With the quartet of new Cavaliers in the arena, the Cavs basically went seven deep – and the shorthanded Cavaliers didn’t disappoint, with Cedi Osman filling the boxscore in his first career start, LeBron James posting his second straight triple-double and tying a career-high in assists and Jeff Green and Kyle Korver combining for 54 points off the bench.
Kyle Korver was outstanding in Wednesday’s win over Minnesota – going 5-for-7 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from long-distance, finishing with 14 points. Jeff Green, who fired the pass that led to LeBron’s game-winner, was just as effective – tallying 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting, adding six boards and a pair of assists. And Cedi Osman earned himself a rotation spot with a solid two-way effort in the win.
Every button Tyronn Lue pushed on Friday night worked – with the aforementioned performances plus another double-digit scoring performance by Tristan Thompson and stellar showing for Jose Calderon in the starting lineup for the first time in a month.
It also helped that the Hawks have essentially waved the white flag on the campaign just before the All-Star Break – sitting Dennis Schroeder for the entire fourth quarter after piling up 25 points through the first three.
The Philips Arena crowd made Kyle Korver – who played four-plus seasons with Atlanta – feel right at home, and it showed.
In light of the Cavaliers’ roster turnover at the deadline, it’s likely that 13-year vet Jose Calderon gets the start on Friday night. Calderon hasn’t played significant minutes is almost a month, but he was very good in the early-season stretch as a starter – running out to a 16-6 mark before Isaiah Thomas’ return in early January.
Korver came out hot, notching 16 points before intermission – but he was just getting warmed up. The four-time three-point percentage champ went 4-of-4 from long-range in the third, finishing with a season-high 30 points – going 9-for-16 from the floor, including 7-for-13 from beyond the arc, adding three boards and pair of blocks.
Jeff Green went 9-of-16 off the bench as well, canning three of the four three-pointers he attempted and going 3-for-3 from the stripe to go with three boards, four assists and a blocked shot of his own.
LeBron James orchestrated the affair – following up his mammoth game on Wednesday night with a 22-point, 17-assist, 12-rebound performance in Atlanta, going 8-for-20 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the stripe for his 10th triple-double of the season, 65th of his future Hall of Fame career.
Cedi Osman, who earned a spot in the rotation after a strong two-way performance in Wednesday’s overtime win at The Q, got his first start as a pro and didn’t disappoint. Bringing an infectious energy to the contest, the wide-eyed rookie did a little bit of everything – finishing with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, adding six boards, five assists and three steals.
Tristan Thompson tallied double-figure scoring once again en route to his third double-double of the season – notching 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting to go with 11 boards and a pair of blocked shots.
Jose Calderon, who amassed a 16-6 record as a starter before relinquishing his role to Isaiah Thomas in early January, picked up right where he left off – adding 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting, adding five boards and an assist while committing just a pair of miscues in 20 minutes of work.
Dennis Schroeder led six Hawks in double-figures, netting 25 points on 10-for-18 shooting – the third time the German import has posted at least 25 against Cleveland this season.
Overall, Atlanta shot 44 percent from the floor compared to 55 percent for Cleveland. The Cavaliers outscored the Hawks on the break, in the paint and on second-chance opportunities. The Wine & Gold also tallied 31 assists on 46 makes in the lopsided victory.
Turning Point — It took the new-look Cavaliers, going with a starting five that hadn’t played together all season, about one quarter to calibrate the game. But after taking a six-point edge late in the first, they never trailed again.
The scrappy Hawks kept it close through three quarters despite never taking the lead. But Kyle Korver’s barrage late in the third put Friday’s affair on ice.
Dennis Schroeder’s layup with 3:03 to play in the period got the Hawks to within three – 83-80. But Korver began tormenting his former teammates from there – canning four straight bombs, triggering a 14-2 run to end the quarter and put Atlanta in a bind for the final 12 minutes.
By the Numbers – 22.0, .609, .579 … Kyle Korver’s scoring average, shooting percentage and three-point percentage in his last two outings. In four games against the Hawks this season, those numbers adjust to 19.5 ppg, .521 and .526 respectively.
”It was my first game as a starter. I just tried to do what I was doing when I was coming in from the bench. We played with great pace today. We played better defense I think, and with the new guys, we’re going to be a younger and more dynamic team with a lot of energy. So I’m really excited.”
Up Next — After dropping the Hawks on Friday night, the Wine & Gold are truly in the homestretch of the season’s first half. On Sunday afternoon, the Cavaliers wrap up their season series against the Celtics, traveling to Beantown for a nationally-televised afternoon affair. Tuesday night, Cleveland heads into the All-Star Break with a marquee inter-Conference matchup against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in Oklahoma City. The Cavaliers’ first game after the Break is Thursday, February 22, when they welcome the Wizards to The Q.
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