Last updated: 6 October, 2014

LeBron and Cavaliers rip Tel Aviv in pre-season opener

LeBron James was a winner in his first NBA appearance for Cleveland since leaving for Miami in 2010 as the Cavaliers defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 107-80 in an international exhibition game.

James started but played only 20 minutes and did not take the court in the second half, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting with four rebounds and four assists.

The pre-season tuneup Sunday was his first game for Cleveland since a playoff loss to Boston four years ago.

James won two titles and reached the final two other times in four years with Miami, but again signed with the Cavaliers in July, saying he hoped to bring an NBA title to his home region.

Kevin Love, obtained by the Cavaliers from Minnesota in a major trade deal, had eight points and 11 rebounds in his Cleveland debut.

“So far so good,” Love said. “We’re only in the second week of training camp. we’re still putting things together on the court. It’s still a process. We’ll get better. We just have to have some continuity out there.

“It will take us a while to get on the same page but every day is another chance.”

Cleveland coach David Blatt, who guided Maccabi Tel Aviv to this year’s Euroleague crown before joining the Cavaliers in June, was a winner in his first appearance as an NBA coach.

Blatt also guided Russia to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 16 points while fellow guard Dion Waiters added 15 points, 12 of them in the third quarter.

Tristan Thompson scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Cleveland, which outrebounded the Israeli side 64-36 and outshot them 40.9 percent to 32.5 percent.

Sylvan Landesberg came off the bench to score a game-high 23 points for Maccabi while former Cavalier Jeremy Pargo added 18 points for Tel Aviv.

The Cavaliers continue their pre-season play on Saturday at Rio de Janeiro against James’ former club, the Miami Heat.