INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers made a big change with another season falling apart, firing general manager Chris Grant on Thursday. Cheap Kings Jerseys . Grant was fired a day after the Cavs dropped their sixth straight game, an embarrassing home loss to a Los Angeles Lakers team that started with eight players and finished with five. Vice president of basketball operations David Griffin will serve as acting general manager. Owner Dan Gilbert made it clear hes unhappy with what has transpired in a season that began with hopes the Cavs would make the playoffs after a three-year absence. "This has been a very difficult period for the franchise," Gilbert said in a statement. "We have severely underperformed against expectations. Just as this is completely unacceptable to our loyal and passionate fan base, season ticket holders and corporate partners, it is also just as unacceptable to our ownership group." Gilbert also met with reporters at the teams training facility following the announcement. He expressed confidence that the Cavs can show improvement under coach Mike Brown over the final 33 games. Grant was instrumental in the rehiring of Brown, who was fired during his first stint with the team in 2010. Gilbert was asked if Browns job was safe for the rest of this season. "Were going to see Mike Brown succeed this year because I think that hell be able to do good things and I think this team will be able to do good things," Gilbert said. "I think theyre going to look at each other and theyre going to look in the mirror and theyre going to rally." Gilbert also was asked why he decided to change his general manager but not his coach. "Coach Brown has only been here over half a season," he said. "Chris Grant has been here 8 1/2 years. Hes been the general manager almost four years. Theres a lot of talent on this team. I think everybody knows that." Gilbert promised last spring the Cavs would not return to the NBA lottery, but Cleveland is 16-33 and has dropped six in a row -- matching its longest losing streak of the season. The Cavs are 5 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the weak Eastern Conference and their only win in the last nine games came over Milwaukee, which has the leagues worst record. "Accountability starts with me," Gilbert said. "I take responsibility for where were at." Grants tenure will be known for not being able to rebuild the Cavs fast enough despite having a slew of first-round draft picks, including two No. 1 overall selections. Grant addressed the teams poor play last week, saying everyone in the organization was accountable, including himself. Grant took Anthony Bennett with the first pick last June and then signed free-agent centre Andrew Bynum during the summer when no other team would offer the 7-footer a contract. Grant was able to unload Bynum in a trade with Chicago for Luol Deng, but the forwards arrival has done little to invigorate the Cavs. Cleveland has been under .500 since the fifth game of the season and the players have been slow to pick up Browns system on both ends of the floor. In a season thats already had too many low moments, the Cavs hit rock bottom Wednesday. Not only did they fall behind by 29 points to Los Angeles, the Lakers played the final few minutes with five healthy players, including one who was allowed to remain in the game after committing his sixth foul because coach Mike DAntoni was out of bodies. The Cavs were booed throughout the game and Brown, who has been unable to come up with any answers to stop his teams skid, benched All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and three other starters in the fourth quarter as Cleveland got back in the game before losing 119-108. The acquisition of Deng last month brought hope the season could be salvaged, but that proved to be temporary. The Cavs went 3-2 on a West Coast trip, but followed that with a 1-4 record on its longest homestand of the season. Cleveland then lost three consecutive road games, including a 31-point rout by the Knicks on national television. Grant joined the organization in 2005 as vice-president of basketball operations/assistant general manager. He was hired as general manager on June 4, 2010. Griffin was hired later that year after spending 17 seasons with the Phoenix Suns, the last three as the clubs senior vice-president of basketball operations. Sam Lacey Jersey . Manager Ryan Nelsen has confirmed Brazilian No. 1 Julio Cesar will be rested for Wednesdays first leg of the semifinal. That opens the door for Bendik, who started 33 games for Toronto last season. Hedo Turkoglu Jersey . LOUIS -- Julius Randle had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Aaron Harrison finished with 18 points and No.NEW YORK -- Joe Sakic has given Nathan MacKinnon another endorsement to be the first pick in the NHL draft, though the Colorado Avalanche are still listening to trade offers. Speaking after the board of governors meeting, Colorados executive vice president of hockey operations explained why the team preferred MacKinnon to defenceman Seth Jones, who has ties to Denver. "We believe Seth, hes going to be a good player, as well, a very good defenceman in this league," Sakic said. "When youre picking No. 1, you want to be able to pick what you believe is going to be the best player in the draft. That was why we made that decision." Sakic and head coach/vice president of hockey operations Patrick Roy have repeatedly singled out MacKinnon as their choice at No. 1. Sakic originally told the Denver Post that the Avalanche would pass on Jones in favour of a forward, either MacKinnon, Halifax teammate Jonathan Drouin or Finnish centre Aleksander Barkov. Sakic callled this a "deep draft" but said the Avalanche have targeted the player theyre taking. Jo Jo White Jersey. He was then asked about MacKinnon. "I think when you watch Nathan play, hes definitely a skilled guy but hes a powerful skater," Sakic said. "He can play a skill game, but he loves going to the net. He loves going to the hard areas, and hes just a tremendous player." The Avalanche front office being so up-front with the stance of MacKinnon over Jones has raised skepticism about possibly trying to drum up a trade. The Florida Panthers pick second and the Tampa Bay Lightning third. Sakic wouldnt say how Colorados approach is affecting trade talks, if at all. "Obviously when you get closer to draft time, you might receive more calls. Im not too sure," he said. "Were very happy and content with picking first, but if we get some calls, obviously well listen. Right now were excited about making the first selection." ' ' '
The Toronto Blue Jays will send left-hander J. DeMarcus Cousins Jersey .A. Happ to the mound Wednesday afternoon looking to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the finale of a quick two-game series. Happ is 2-1 over his past three starts, charged with eight earned runs over that time. However, seven of those came in an 11-1 loss at Cincinnati on June 21. Happ then rebounded on Thursday to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-0 behind 7 2/3 scoreless innings of four-hit ball. The 31-year-old struck out eight, moving to 7-4 with a 4.29 ERA on the year. "The goal was to be aggressive, to force contact early, use all four quadrants and just be aggressive," noted Happ, who is 3-3 with a 5.93 ERA in his career versus the Brewers. The Brewers meanwhile, hope that starter Wily Peralta can get locked in on Wednesday afternoon. Though Peralta has won five consecutive starts, he has posted a 4.22 earned run average over that span, one in which Milwaukee has scored at least seven runs four times. The right-handers past two wins both came against Colorado, including Thursdays 7-4 decision at home. Peralta gave up all four runs on eight hits and two walks over six frames, striking out seven. While he improved to 9-5 with a 3.20 earned run average on the year, manager Ron Roenicke still thinks the hurler can improve on the mound. "I thought the last three outings, (Wily) has pitched well, but hes not locked in," said Roenicke. "Now hes struggling to get through the lineups." The 25-year-old Peralta has never faced the Blue Jays, who send left-hander J.A. Happ to the mound today. The Blue Jays halted a three-game skid by taking Tuesdays opener 4-1. Drew Hutchison yielded just one run over seven innings while striking out a season- high 10 batters in his first victory since June 13. Jose Bautista, starting for the first time since June 22 due to a strained left hamstring, and Colby Rasmus each homered for the Blue Jays. Starting as the designated hitter, Bautista hit his 16th homer of the year. Ryan Braun drove in the lone run for the Brewers, who have lost two in a row after winning four straight. Marco Estrada started for Milwaukee and suffered the loss, allowing two runs on six hits over six-plus innings of work. He struck out two and walked one, losing for the first time since June 15. "Things just started going south for me," Estrada said. "I just wasnt really locating. I really didnt know what I was doing, how I was missing and the way I was missing. I was just out there throwing the ball around." Milwaukee could be without outfielder Khris Davis today as he injured his left shoulder on Tuesday diving into second base. The Brewers, who are making their first trip to Toronto since 2005, are 7-3 against the Blue Jays since moving to the National League in 1998. Jason Smith Jersey . Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Wild team that has a nice mix of proven veterans along with young, inexpensive talent on the rise. When the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, making a big splash in the summer of 2012, it set the franchise on a path to being more competitive, but a big reason that they have been so competitive is the contributions of young players who still have more to give. Stitched Pelicans Jerseys . The Pope greeted Klose at his general audience Wednesday and the pair had a long chat. Klose is German like the pope, although he was born in Poland. In Sundays derby, Lazio took the lead in the seventh minute after Maarten Stekelenburg brought down Klose, resulting in the Roma goalkeeper being sent off and a penalty that Hernanes converted.TORONTO - After an NBA playoff debut that didnt go as well as hed planned, DeMar DeRozan went home and put his feet up. "I sat in my room the rest of the day, I didnt leave the room," DeRozan said. "I didnt turn the TV on. I didnt watch any games. I just cleared my mind. Just understand it was my first playoff game." He fought the urge to go back to the Air Canada Centre for a late-night shooting session. "I thought about it. I really thought about it," DeRozan said. "About 1 a.m. I was going to come back, but I was like: dont put too much pressure on myself. Just get my rest, regroup. Weve got two days until we play, so just get ready. I try not to think so much or stress myself out — just relax." The 24-year-old all-star scored 14 points — well below his season average of 22.7 — in the Raptors 94-87 loss to the Brooklyn Nets in Saturdays Game 1 of the best-of-seven playoff series. The player whose hot hand led the Raptors in their record run to the post-season went cold Saturday. DeRozan, who was the picture of post-season confidence earlier in the week, scoffing that the playoffs werent "rocket science," shot just 3-for-13 from the field. He missed all four of his three-point attempts. He insisted he wasnt nervous. "I think with as much energy was going on, it felt like things were going faster than they were," DeRozan said. While it wasnt the coming-out party any of Torontos playoff rookies had hoped for, they were all breathing a little easier Sunday morning, glad that Game 1 of their series was over and done with. "I think Game 2 is a whole different animal," coach Dwane Casey said. "I think the newness and the shiny part of the playoffs is worn off by Game 2. I think thatll help (DeRozan) tremendously. I think thatll help our whole team." Kyle Lowry, one of the few Raptors who looked unfazed by the playoff pressure in his 22-point performance, agreed. "I think the bright lights will dim a little bit for everyone, everything will calm down a little bit," Lowry said. "I think that first game is always tough at home, because of the excitement, and we have a bunch of young guys. But now its over. Now guys are ready to move on, now were ready to go." Game 2 is Tuesday in Toronto, then the series shifts to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Friday. The series was heated before it even began after the Nets seemingly tanked to fall to sixth-place, preferring to play the inexperienced Raptors. Toronto GM Masai Ujiri then threw gasoline onto the fire Saturday when he dropped an F-bomb when addressing the crowd in Maple Leaf Square, pairing the F-word with Brooklyn. New Yorks tabloid newspapers fought back. The headline on Sundays New York Daily News read: "Dont F*** With Brooklyn! Nets give foul-mouthed Raptors a spanking to take Game 1." The New York Posts front page was a picture of a grinning Paul Pierce with the headline: "After Toronto GM insults Bklyn, Nets shut up Raptors. F#@K YEAH!" The Raptors had put Saturdays drama behind them by Sundays practice at the Air Canada Centre. David Wesley Jersey . "This is about basketball," Casey said. "All that stuff has happened. Were very supportive of whatever Masai said. This is about basketball. I will say this, I thought our fans were fantastic (Saturday). They were great. Ive been in championship arenas, championship games, and this is as big-time as can be. "All the other stuff, what was said, its about basketball. Its about screening. Its about finishing plays. Its about executing defensively. I dont want to get off on another tangent." As for DeRozans less-than-impressive debut, Casey said he thought both DeRozan and Terrence Ross — also making his playoff debut — looked frustrated after they got in early foul trouble Saturday. Ross had just three points on the afternoon. "Young guys have to be somewhere learning to play in the NBA playoffs and this is a great start for (Ross), its a great start for DeMar," Casey said. "Theres no way Im disappointed in their performance. Their point-productivity, yes. But this is a great positive for our organization." DeRozan was asked if one game is enough to adjust to the pressure-packed playoffs. "I dont need a whole nother playoff round to get ready for it," DeRozan said. "I watched a lot of film. I understand. Im definitely not going to make the same mistakes twice. Its adjustments." His teammates are confident theyll see the best of DeRozan in Game 2. "Hes had rough games before. . . hes fine. Im positive hell bounce back," Lowry said. "Hes really focused. Yeah, a rough shooting night. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes the ball dont go in the hole." Why so positive? "Because hes an all-star," Lowry replied. "Theres a reason hes an all-star. He averages what he averages, hes a helluva player, and hes only going to get better." The Raptors are hoping the ACC fans — dressed all in white Saturday and waving white towels, thanks to a T-shirt and towel giveaway — remain as vocal as they were in Game 1. "It was live," Amir Johnson said. "I didnt get to see outside (where hundreds of fans gathered in Maple Leaf Square) but Ive seen pictures on the Internet. It was a pretty dope crowd. "Its big. We need them. We need everybody. The whole country." Saturdays shot-clock debacle should also be behind them. American sports broadcaster ESPN caused the shot-clock malfunction in Game 1, according to a Raptors official. Toronto had to rely on announcer Herbie Kuhn to count down the 24 seconds on each possession after the clocks above the baskets died with 5:57 remaining in the third quarter. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment took blame for using the same power source for the primary and backup shot clocks. The damaged cables in the baskets were replaced and tested Sunday, and the primary and backup clocks are no longer using the same power source. ' ' '