NBA Teams
Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer 11d

Kevin Love back at Cavs practice, says Dwyane Wade was 'exactly right' in calling out starters

NBA, Cleveland Cavaliers

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Kevin Love returned to practice Monday after being rushed to the hospital during the Cleveland Cavaliers' 117-115 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

"It was just kind of feeling all out of sorts," said Love, who experienced stomach pain and shortness of breath before subbing himself out of the game in the third quarter and going to the hospital to receive an IV. "I can't truly explain how I felt because I never really felt like that."

While Love was at a loss for words when it came to what plagued him, he felt like Dwyane Wade hit the nail on the head when Wade called out the Cavs' starters for their poor performances this season after the lowly Hawks, riddled by injury and owners of the worst record in the Eastern Conference, went up 37-28 at the end of the first quarter.

"It was ugly," Love said. "I don't know where that lack of -- I don't know if it's focus or energy.

"I saw what Dwyane said. He's exactly right. It would be nice if we were able to get on the second unit one time for giving something up but that hasn't been the case. ... We just can't keep putting ourselves in a situation like that."

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue maintained a patient front, using Monday's practice for film and on-court work rather than calling for another air-it-out team meeting as he did last week. He believes the Cavs' effort will improve when the team is fed up of being knocked around like it's been lately, losers of five of its last six games.

"Just have to keep attacking it," Lue said. "Have to keep showing film and continue to keep talking about it. Make sure we're aware of it and I think guys are embarrassed and we should be embarrassed of how we're getting beat."

The Cavs' lineup should get a lift Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks from Iman Shumpert, who missed the last four games with right knee soreness. The backup guard practiced Monday and will play against the Bucks, barring any setback.

The one player that Cleveland continues to wait on, the one LeBron James described last week as "a 30-point scorer, All-Star point guard that's coming soon," is Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas has "increased his range of motion" in his workouts, according to a Cavs spokesman and continues to progress in his rehabilitation program. While Thomas has been witnessed participating in more rigorous pregame routines as of late, the team has not made any adjustment to his official timeline that expects him back on the court playing in games by late December.

While Thomas' right hip still needs time to heal, his confidence is fully intact, it would appear based on the tweet he fired off Sunday night.

One aspect of Thomas' game that could surely help the Cavs, something that has been sorely lacking since Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics, is his 3-point shooting.

The Cavs rank 25th in the league in 3-point percentage (33.4 percent) and are tied for 16th in 3-pointers made per game (10.2). Cleveland ranked second in both those categories last season. Their 3-point shooting was particularly egregious against Atlanta, as the Cavs started off 3-for-25 from deep before finishing a subpar 10-for-36.

"We have guys that can shoot the ball," Love said. "I don't know what it says on pace, but last year we really pushed the ball with Bron and Ky and really opened up the floor. But we're just not shooting the ball well from 3 and that has to change."

The Cavs rank 12th in pace this season with 101.3 possessions per game. Last season they were 16th with 98.4 possessions per game.

Cleveland's starting shooting guard, JR Smith, is averaging career lows in points per game (5.3), shooting percentage (27.5 percent) and 3-point percentage (23.4 percent) and passed up several looks late in the Atlanta loss, which caused Lue to talk to Smith about his role.

"JR has to take his shots, get back to being who he is: a gunslinger," Lue said. "We expect him to take those shots and make those shots and not [be] so worried about putting the ball on the floor as much. Just take your shots. If you're shooting too many or you're shooting bad shots, I'll let you know, but we need him to get back to being who he is."

As for the Cavs getting back to who they are -- the three time defending Eastern Conference champs -- Lue said his team can't rely on its résumé alone to break out of its slump.

"We're a different team," Lue said. "It's not the same team we've had over the last three years. We have a lot of new faces, a lot of new pieces, a lot of guys out, so we can't have that approach. Every night we step out on the floor, we have to be ready to play."

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