NBA: Cavaliers 'fine' despite teething problems

New Orleans Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins shielding the ball from Cleveland Cavaliers forwards Channing Frye (No. 8) and Jae Crowder. They have been also-rans the past two seasons, but with Cousins and Anthony Davis in form and finally clicking a
New Orleans Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins shielding the ball from Cleveland Cavaliers forwards Channing Frye (No. 8) and Jae Crowder. They have been also-rans the past two seasons, but with Cousins and Anthony Davis in form and finally clicking as a pair, the Pelicans can possibly push for a play-off place in the Western Conference.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

James says Finals runners-up will rotate until injuries clear up, Thunder pummel the Bulls

NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana) • LeBron James insisted he is not concerned about the Cleveland Cavaliers' early struggles after they fell 101-123 to the New Orleans Pelicans for their second straight defeat in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The Cavaliers (3-3) were paced by Kevin Love with 26 points and James with 18. But coach Tyronn Lue pulled his starters with six minutes left on Saturday.

"We're fine," James said, acknowledging that the rotations the Cavaliers have been playing are works in progress while Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade make their way back from injuries.

"It's way too (early). I'm not overlooking what's going on. I wasn't overlooking when we had success. I'm not overlooking when we've had a couple of (poor) games.

"I'm an even-keel guy. I understand it's a long process for us. We've played some crazy line-ups that we haven't even played in practice. We'll continue to get better."

The Pelicans' Anthony Davis scored 10 of his game-high 30 points in a two-minute stretch of the fourth quarter. And DeMarcus Cousins posted his seventh career triple-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists at the Smoothie King Centre.

The victory improved the Pelicans' record to 3-3 and, incredibly, marked the first time in the last 981 days - since Feb 20, 2015, when they were 27-27 - that they have reached .500.

  • 29 Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook became the only NBA player to record a triple-double against all 29 different teams, after his 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists against the Chicago Bulls.

"Yeah, it's been about four years, three years, something like that," Davis said, smiling, recalling the Pelicans' 1-11 start in 2015 and 0-8 start last season, from which they never recovered. "It just feels good.

"We don't want to get excited over .500. We want to go back and try to keep this thing going."

Cousins certainly kept things going. One game after his 41-point, 23-rebound, six-assist performance in a 114-106 road victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, he scored at will and flashed his interior passing skills.

"We understand that with ball movement and cutting, we're a tough team to match up with," the power forward said.

On Saturday, the Oklahoma City Thunder also showed how dangerous they can be when they put everything together.

Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points, Paul George added 20 and Russell Westbrook posted a triple-double as the Thunder routed the Chicago Bulls 101-69.

The Thunder never trailed and relied on a balanced scoring attack while limiting the Bulls to 28.2 per cent shooting from the field.

"(Defence) just set the tone," Westbrook said after scoring 12 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and making 13 assists. "When we're able to do that, it puts us in position to do good things."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline 'Cavs 'fine' despite teething problems'. Print Edition | Subscribe