Tyronn Lue’s decision to stagger Isaiah Thomas’ and LeBron James’ minutes appear to be paying off.
For the first time since December, Cleveland won back-to-back games with a 121-104 victory Sunday over the Pistons.
However, Thomas sat out the fourth quarter, even though he posted a season-high seven assists along with 14 points.
“Came back and started Bron in the fourth quarter,” Lue said of his plan. “Him and Kevin came out with 5 1/2 (minutes) to go in the third quarter, so we left I.T. in. We tried to get him out early in the first half, but we left I.T. in, and he was able to carry the scoring load in that third quarter. Then brought Bron back to start the fourth quarter and had a great rhythm. Tristan and (the) guys (who started) said, ‘Let them go. Let them play.’ Second unit came in and played well.”
Gordon had just returned from a vacation to the Bahamas with his girlfriend when he learned about the trade to Seattle. He immediately visited a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Miami and bought a red outfielder’s glove that has since been replaced by a different model and now sits in the trunk of his car. Gordon elicited some laughs when he told the story at a Mariners fan event, but the tone of his voice suggested that he wasn’t fully recovered from the shock of having to reinvent himself at age 29.
“If I woke up every day just worrying about my world, I probably wouldn’t have the most productive day in the world,” Gordon said. “I’m gonna be all right with it. I’m a professional. I’m not here to cry about it. People tell me, ‘You’re a ballplayer,’ and I realize that now. I’m a ballplayer, and I’ll adapt to the situation.”
Mariners coach Chris Prieto flew to Orlando, Florida, in December for the first of two offseason tutorials with Gordon. They sat down and discussed the finer points of center-field play and the best ways for Gordon to embrace the change. Prieto returned to Florida a month later and found that Gordon had already made substantial progress.