As LeBron sits, Kevin Love scores 25 in Cavs’ victory over Bucks
On the flight to Brazil, Kevin Love’s new teammates told him to stop trying so hard to fit in.
Love picked up the offensive slack with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving out, scoring 25 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 106-100 exhibition win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
Dion Waiters added 23 for the Cavs, who were missing three starters in their first game after facing the Miami Heat in Rio De Janeiro on Saturday. Love had 25 in that one, but the All-Star forward acknowledged it has taken him some time to feel comfortable in Cleveland.
Love made five 3-pointers — completing a four-point play after a step-back 3 in the first half — and also shook off banging knees with Bucks rookie Jabari Parker while making a basket in the lane during the third quarter. He and Waiters spent the final period on the bench.
Love said recent talks with his teammates have helped his transition.
"I’m just trying not to fit in so much," Love said. "I had a talk with the guys on the plane ride over and also in different practices off the floor, and they told me fit out and just be myself. I kind of laughed and smirked at that. … I want to be Mr. Reliable."
Following the game, Love iced both knees and ankles. He said the blow from Parker "deadened my leg for a while." It’s the second straight game he’s taken a blow to the lower leg. Love was struck near his Achilles on Saturday by Miami big man Chris Andersen.
Parker, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, scored 18 in 27 minutes. He and some of Milwaukee’s other starters played into the fourth quarter as first-year coach Jason Kidd worked on some things with his young team.
James is fine, but Cavs coach David Blatt wanted to give the superstar a night off as Cleveland began a stretch of three games in four nights. James is expected to play Wednesday night in Cincinnati against the Indiana Pacers.
Irving rolled his ankle last week in practice before the Cavs went to Brazil, and Blatt would prefer his All-Star guard gets through a full practice before returning to the floor. The Cavs also were without starting center Tristan Thompson, who has a sore shoulder.
Blatt wasn’t happy that the Cavaliers attempted 34 3-pointers. However, he didn’t think his team forced many shots, and as far as he’s concerned, Love can shoot whenever he wants to.
Told that Love is 9 of 12 on 3-pointers in the past two games, Blatt knocked on the wooden table and said there’s no limit on Love’s attempts.
"He can take all he wants," said Blatt, adding that Love will play both power forward and center in certain lineups.
Wearing warmups, James didn’t join his teammates on the bench until midway through the second quarter. By then, Love had 15 points.
In the fourth quarter, an animated James left his chair and was on the floor cheering as Cleveland’s reserves held off Milwaukee’s rally.