Tyronn Lue didn’t make much of a difference in his coaching debut for Cleveland as Pau Gasol scored 25 points, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 96-83 win over the host Cavaliers.
CLEVELAND – Tyronn Lue didn’t make much of a difference in his coaching debut for Cleveland as Pau Gasol scored 25 points, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 96-83 victory over the Cavaliers on Saturday night.
Lue was promoted Friday, when the Cavaliers fired David Blatt despite him taking the team to the NBA Finals last season and leading the Eastern Conference this season. The coaching swap didn’t have any immediate impact on the Bulls, who outhustled the Cavaliers to loose balls and won for the third time in nine games.
Jimmy Butler scored 20 points for Chicago, which opened a 17-point lead in the third quarter and never let the Cavaliers get closer than eight in the fourth.
Cleveland superstar LeBron James narrowly missed his first triple-double this season, finishing with 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. J.R. Smith added 18 points for Cleveland, which was favored by 10½ points.
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While Lue met the media for the first time Saturday morning as coach of the Cavaliers, James stood in the middle of Cleveland Clinic Courts chatting with general manager David Griffin.
James said he was surprised by the news Blatt was fired and insisted he had no role in it, although he agreed with everything Griffin said Friday in announcing the decision.
Griffin believed it was a locker-room issue and thought the team was regressing despite its impressive 30-11 record. James didn’t dispute that idea.
“Like I told you guys before, you get so caught up in the wins and losses and I tell you every day, it’s not about the wins and losses, it’s how we play. It’s how we prepare ourselves every day,” James said. “For something like this to happen, now you understand what I was meaning.”
James realizes the public believes he was a factor in Blatt’s firing, but said he stopped caring what people think long ago. He called the Cavaliers “fragile” at times.
Lue, 38, takes over the job already with strong ties to James from a friendship that spans 14 seasons. He has James’ attention already, something that wasn’t always the case with Blatt.
“I talked to Bron. I told him, ‘I got to hold you accountable. It starts with you first,’ ” Lue said. “ ‘And if I can hold you accountable in front of the team and doing the right things, then everybody else has got to fall in line, fall in place.’ ”
Lue wants his team to play at a faster pace than it did under Blatt, but the Cavaliers might not be physically ready to up the tempo.
“I don’t think we’re in good-enough shape,” Lue said.
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