Sports

LeBron directs Cavs to Memphis

(SportsNetwork.com) - The No. 2 teams in the conferences square off Wednesday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to FedExForum to take on the Memphis Grizzlies.

Neither team has a realistic chance at getting the No. 1 seed. The Atlanta Hawks are eight games ahead of the Cavs in the Eastern Conference, while the Golden State Warriors are also eight clear of the Grizzlies in the west.

But, both of these squads are headed to the postseason and most likely will host a couple of rounds. Both teams have won three in a row.

On Sunday, the Cavaliers started their three-game road trip, which ends Friday in Brooklyn, with a 108-90 thrashing of the sinking Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center.

LeBron James picked up 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead Cleveland in the rout of its fellow Central Division resident.

J.R. Smith chimed in with 23 points and Kyrie Irving contributed 20 with seven assists for the Cavaliers, who won their third in a row and seventh in eight while maintaining a healthy lead over Chicago in the Central Division.

Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov each finished with 10 points for Cleveland.

"Milwaukee's length and ability to get their hands on balls and steal the ball bothers every team," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "That's a big part of their game. It disturbed us."

Milwaukee failed to make a field goal for three-plus minutes in the fourth as the Cavaliers pulled away. James tallied four in a row inside of a minute to give his team a five-point edge, then he and Smith converted back-to-back triples to make it 87-76.

Smith hit two more from long distance, the last one with 6:19 remaining which put the Cavs up 93-78. Milwaukee was never able to shrink its deficit below double digits for the remainder.

Memphis punched its playoff ticket last time out with a 103-82 road victory over the New York Knicks on Monday. The Grizzlies reached the 50-win mark for the third consecutive season, made the playoffs for the fifth straight and gave head coach Dave Joerger his 100th career victory.

"It is more about how you are feeling and how you go into the playoffs. It is something you can't control much but the way team plays matters," center Marc Gasol said of the postseason.

Zach Randolph had 23 points and seven rebounds, while Gasol added 21 points and eight boards. Vince Carter hit four 3-pointers and netted 14 points off the bench for the Grizzlies, who have won five of their last six games.

A Jason Smith jumper pulled the Knicks within 62-58 late in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies embarked on a 19-5 run that bled into the fourth to seize complete control of the contest.

Carter, who netted 11 points during the surge, nailed consecutive 3-pointers to cap the burst for an 81-63 Grizzlies advantage at the 10:26 mark. New York never got within less than 11 the rest of the way.

With the postseason out of the way, it's all about positioning for the Grizzlies. They own a 2 1/2-game cushion over the Houston Rockets for the second seed.

The Cavs bested the Grizzlies in Cleveland on Dec. 21, but have lost five in a row in Memphis.