November 20, 2014

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Cavaliers get easy win over Nets in season finale, but no yes yet from star guard Kyrie Irving

Brooklyn Nets' Marquis Teague drives past Kyrie Irving Wednesday in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Brooklyn Nets’ Marquis Teague drives past Kyrie Irving Wednesday in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving stopped short of saying he’d sign a contract extension with the Cavaliers this summer, but he seemed excited about the possibility.

Speaking after the Cavs concluded the season with a 114-85 victory over the extremely shorthanded Brooklyn Nets in a glorified exhibition game Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, Irving spoke highly of the organization and city of Cleveland.

“I’m aware I could be extended this summer,” he said. “It’s a big deal for me and my family if they do offer me that. It would be exciting. I’ll make the best decision for me and my family.”

The Cavs can offer Irving a five-year extension for approximately $80 million, though there’s a chance he might want to sign for less years.

“I’ve been a part of this and I want to continue to be a part of this,” he said. “We’re making strides in the right direction, especially with the organization. I want to be a part of something special and I want to do something special in Cleveland.”

Asked about the future of coach Mike Brown, who just finished the first year of a five-year, $20 million contract that is fully guaranteed through the first four seasons, Irving said, “I’m pretty sure Coach Brown will be back, which I’m happy about. Until anything happens, I’m not worried about it.”

Brown, whose team went 17-16 after a 16-33 start to finish 33-49 overall, said he wasn’t worried about his future and thanked owner Dan Gilbert.

“I wouldn’t be sitting in this seat without him,” he said. “Whatever decision he makes, with anything, I’m going to support him.”

The game itself was as notable for who didn’t play as for who did.

The Cavs were minus Luol Deng (back), C.J. Miles (ankle), Scotty Hopson (ankle) and Anderson Varejao (coach’s decision) — rookies Anthony Bennett and Carrick Felix were back in uniform and saw action — while the Nets, who were resting for the playoffs, were minus Joe Johnson (calf), Deron Williams (knee), Paul Pierce (hip), Kevin Garnett (back), Shaun Livingston (toe), Mirza Teletovic (personal reasons) and Brook Lopez (fractured foot).

That left Brooklyn with a starting lineup of Jorge Gutierrez, Marquis Teague, Marcus Thornton, Andray Blatche and Jason Collins and a bench of Andrei Kirilenko, Mason Plumlee and Alan Anderson. Anderson did not play due to a nagging abdominal injury.

The Nets (44-38) began the night with the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but seemed more concerned with falling to the sixth spot, which they did when Washington won in Boston. That means Brooklyn will open the playoffs against No. 3 Toronto, while No. 5 Washington will play at No. 4 Chicago.

Despite the win, the Cavs finished with the ninth-worst record in the league. That means they will have a 1.7 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick, a 2.0 percent chance of getting the second pick and a 2.4 percent chance of getting the third pick at the May 20 NBA Draft Lottery.

Cleveland avoided a tie with New Orleans for the ninth- and 10th-worst records when the Pelicans won at home against Houston.

The Cavs led by 12 after shooting 65 percent in the first quarter, but Brooklyn was up one with less than four minutes to go in the first half. Cleveland led 51-49 at intermission, then had its way in the second half, outscoring the Nets 63-36.

“People say they didn’t have all their guys,” Brown said of the Nets. “For us, it doesn’t matter. We’re not at the stage Brooklyn is. Brooklyn is on its way to the playoffs.”

Individual statistics should all come with an asterisk, but Tyler Zeller looked great while leading the Cavs with 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting and 11 rebounds.

Dion Waiters had 19 points, Irving had 15 and the seldom-used Felix, who had nine points all season coming in, had 10 garbage-time points in the fourth quarter. Tristan Thompson added 11 points and 10 boards, Alonzo Gee had 12 points and Bennett finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

“We hold our heads high,” Irving said. “I’m proud of my guys and being a part of something special. We fell short (of the playoffs) this season, but I can live with that.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.

 

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  • stop ur whining part deux

    Would not be surprised to see Irving leave. The NBA is a joke as far as player retention is concerned. They, like baseball believe small markets are good for nothing other than serving as a farm system for the large markets.

    …and they wonder why they are 3rd and 4th behind the NFL and Nascar in popularity.