CLEVELAND — Next stop: China.
The Cavaliers played their third exhibition game in four nights Friday at Quicken Loans Arena, a 96-90 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics, then boarded a jet 90 minutes later for an
18-hour trip to Shanghai.
Cleveland, which will play a pair of preseason games against the Orlando Magic next week, was scheduled to fly eight hours to Anchorage, Alaska, then 10 more to China. Shanghai is 12 hours ahead of Cleveland, so it will actually be Sunday when the Cavaliers’ 100-person entourage arrives.
“It’s a tough trip,” Cleveland guard Larry Hughes said. “It’s an experience, but at the same time, we want to give ourselves the best shot at winning in the regular season. Jumping right into a (six-game) West Coast trip (after an Oct. 31 home opener against Dallas) is going to be tough, but I guess we’ve just got to figure it out.”
Like Hughes, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown is not thrilled about the trip from a basketball standpoint, but he understands the reasoning behind it.
Said Cavaliers small forward LeBron James, who has been to China every summer since 2003: “It’s going to be a good basketball experience for a lot of our guys. These guys will get a good sense of how the game of basketball has spread beyond the United States of America.”
From a playing standpoint, the Cavaliers’ biggest concern is the fatigue that sets in following a long trip overseas. They will be in China for eight days and will have two more exhibition games remaining when they return, but the effects of the trip could extend into the regular season.
“We won’t know how bad (it will be) until we get back,” James said. “I was definitely tired when I got back.”
Added Brown: “I hope we’re a no-excuse team.”
In addition to the travel, the time change is dramatic. Cleveland’s first game against Orlando will be Wednesday at
8 p.m. Shanghai time, which will make it 8 a.m. in Cleveland. Its second game will be a week from today at 12:30 p.m. in Macao, which will be 12:30 a.m. here. ESPN will televise the first, while the second will be shown on NBA-TV.
“These games don’t count, so you don’t have to play your guys regular minutes,” Brown said. “I’d rather be here (practicing) at Cleveland Clinic Courts (in Independence), but it should be fun.”
James, who had 14 points, four rebounds and five assists in 22 minutes, left the game late in the third quarter with a right shoulder contusion, but the injury is not serious.
Shannon Brown led the Cavaliers with 19 points, including 11-of-14 from the line.
Ira Newble added 13 points, while Dwayne Jones had 10 rebounds in 20 minutes. Power forward Chris Wilcox led the Sonics with 20 points and eight rebounds, while 19-year-old rookie Kevin Durant, the No. 2 pick in the draft, had 15 points and seven rebounds.
Durant attempted 22 shots in 26 minutes, making five, but displayed a lot of promising skills at the offensive end.
Cleveland’s Mike Brown was most disappointed with his team giving up 20 offensive rebounds and 18 fastbreak points.
“The transition defense really concerns me right now,” he said. “Some of it has to do with technique, but some of it has to do with busting your behind and getting back.”
Mom knows best
James has resumed wearing a mouthpiece during games, which he did throughout his career at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
“My mom told me I needed to start wearing it again,” he said. “I listen to my mom.”
James is also wearing black sleeves on both legs to cover his shins and calves.
“If you’ve ever gotten kicked in the shins before, it’s not a good feeling,” he said. “It’s all about being proactive and not reactive.”
Prior to the Seattle game, the Cavaliers cut Cleveland South High product Chet Mason, who shared Ohio’s 2000 Mr. Basketball award with Medina’s Tony Stockman.
• Veteran point guard Eric Snow, who is recovering from knee surgery, did not accompany the team to China.
• China’s population is 1.3 billion, of which 300 million are said to play basketball. That equals the population of the United States.
• Seattle point guard Luke Ridnour did not play due to a fractured nasal bone.
• Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo called Mike Brown before the game and asked him what he wanted the Cavaliers to work on. Brown said zone offense, so Seattle spent a large portion of the game in a 1-2-2 defense, which it also figures to play a lot in the regular season.
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Sonics 96, Cavs 90
SEATTLE (96): Gelabale 4-8 0-0 9, Wilcox 8-9 4-5 20, Thomas 2-5 1-3 5, Szczerbiak 5-13 1-1 14, Watson 3-9 3-6 9, Collison 4-10 1-4 9, Durant 5-22 3-4 15, Petro 3-5 1-2 7, Green 3-9 1-2 7, Jackson 0-1 1-2 1, Wilkins 0-0 0-0 0, Sene 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-91 16-29 96.
CLEVELAND (90): James 6-12 2-4 14, Gooden 4-8 2-2 10, Ilgauskas 3-6 0-0 6, Hughes 4-11 0-0 8, Gibson 3-9 2-2 10, Marshall 1-3 2-2 4, D.Brown 0-5 0-0 0, Da.Jones 1-4 1-2 4, Dw.Jones 0-3 2-2 2, S.Brown 4-8 11-14 19, Newble 5-9 2-2 13, Tolliver 0-0 0-0 0, Rice 0-1 0-0 0, Felix 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-79 24-30 90.
Seattle 24 28 28 16 — 96
Cleveland 26 21 19 24 — 90
3-Point Goals—Seattle 6-15 (Szczerbiak 3-4, Durant 2-5, Gelabale 1-1, Green 0-2, Watson 0-3), Cleveland 4-23 (Gibson 2-6, Newble 1-2, Da.Jones 1-4, Marshall 0-1, Rice 0-1, James 0-2, S.Brown 0-2, D.Brown 0-2, Hughes 0-3). Fouled Out—Petro. Rebounds—Seattle 69 (Collison 11), Cleveland 52 (Dw.Jones 10). Assists—Seattle 20 (Watson 6), Cleveland 17 (James, Gibson 5). Total Fouls—Seattle 22, Cleveland 20. Technicals—Seattle Defensive Three Second 3, Cleveland Defensive Three Second. A—15,878. (20,562).