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In brief: Cleveland’s Big Three too much for Memphis to handle

LeBron James helped drive Cleveland to a rousing victory. (Associated Press)
LeBron James helped drive Cleveland to a rousing victory. (Associated Press)
From Staff And Wire Reports

NBA: The Cleveland Cavaliers have delivered more messages over the last two months than the postal service. For that reason, no one involved really thought they needed to make another statement Wednesday night against the host Memphis Grizzlies.

But they did anyway on a night their Big Three shined.

Kyrie Irving scored 24 points, Kevin Love had 22 points and 10 rebounds and LeBron James had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 111-89 dismantling of the second-best team in the West at FedEx Forum. It was the Grizzlies’ worst home loss of the season and came after the Cavs beat them by 14 in Cleveland in late December.

They did it Wednesday on the strength of a dazzling third quarter when they shot 74 percent while recording assists on all 14 of their baskets against a defense that ranks 11th in the league in defensive field-goal percentage.

The Cavs are the first Eastern Conference team to sweep the home-and-home series with the Grizzlies.

“I think it’s a great game in a sense you don’t get this many really good competition games late in the season like this,” James said. “To be able to face a team like this keeps your swords sharp.”

A few days after creating a stir with some radio comments, Love produced one of his most complete games of the season. He posted up Grizzlies defenders and went to work inside, making just two 3-pointers and doing the bulk of his damage in the paint.

Hawks end losing streak: Paul Millsap had 25 points and 11 rebounds and visiting Atlanta snapped a three-game losing streak with a 95-83 victory over Orlando.

Butler paces Bulls: Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, Pau Gasol had 18 and visiting Chicago beat Toronto 116-103.

Jordan sizzles: DeAndre Jordan raised the NBA’s best shooting percentage above 71 percent by making all seven shots and scoring 14 points, and the visiting Los Angeles Clippers pounded New York 111-80.

Shooting all night from either right at or above the rim – and once right on top of Jason Smith – Jordan hiked his season average to .713, which would be second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s .727 in 1972-73.

Pacers stop skid: George Hill made a driving layup with 2.7 seconds left to lift visiting Indiana past Washington 103-101, snapping the Pacers’ six-game losing streak.

Spurs rout Thunder: Tony Parker had 21 points and six assists, and host San Antonio stopped Oklahoma City’s four-game winning streak with a runaway 130-91 victory.

Thunder star Russell Westbrook was held to 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Giroux’s 22nd goal leads Philadelphia

NHL: Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Ryan White and Michael Raffl scored goals to lead host Philadelphia to a 4-1 win over Chicago.

Giroux had his 22nd goal for his first even-strength score at home this season.

ODU’s buzzer-beater beats Murray State

College men: Trey Freeman banked in a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Old Dominion to a 72-69 victory over Murray State in the NIT quarterfinals at Norfolk, Virginia.

The win puts the Monarchs (27-7) into the semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Bendtner shines as U.S. loses late again

Soccer: Nicklas Bendtner scored his first international hat trick, taking advantage of an American defense that gave up two more late goals, and Denmark rallied to beat the United States 3-2 in an exhibition game at Aarhus, Denmark.

Jozy Altidore scored in the first half and set up former club teammate Aron Johannsson’s goal in the second. But Bendtner tied the score in the 83rd minute and got the winner in the first minute of stoppage.

The U.S. has just two wins (2-6-3) since beating Ghana in its opener at the World Cup, where it was knocked out by Belgium in the second round. In a worrisome trend for the Americans, they have given up 12 goals from the 80th minute on in their last 12 games.

Minnesota awarded franchise: Major League Soccer has committed to Minnesota, awarding an expansion franchise to start playing in 2018 with the expectation an outdoor stadium will be built.

McKennis captures Super-G national title

Miscellany: Alice McKennis capped off a comeback season with her first national title, winning the super-G in the U.S. Alpine Championships at Carrabassett, Maine.

Canadians grab pairs lead: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford skated a flawless short program to take a big lead in the pairs event on the opening day of the world figure skating championships at Shanghai.

In ice dancing, Madison Chock and Evan Bates will attempt to become just the second American pair to win a world title after taking the lead in the short dance.

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