James returns, Cavaliers debut new starting lineup

CLEVELAND (AP) – The King has returned.

LeBron James made his preseason debut Tuesday after missing Cleveland’s first three games with a sprained left ankle. He scored 17 points, but also had eight turnovers in the 108-94 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

It was the first chance for James to play with close friend and former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade as the Cavaliers showed off their new starting lineup. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue brought out his new starting group for the first time now that James is back.

He was joined by Wade, Kevin Love and newcomers Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder. Lue announced the lineup, which includes three former MVPs on Monday. James and Rose have won regular-season MVPs and Wade was the 2006 Finals MVP.

Rose finished with 13 points and Iman Shumpert added 12.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (23) shoots past Chicago Bulls’ Justin Holiday (7) during an NBA pre-season basketball game. – AP

“Tonight, I was off. I could feel it,” James said. “It’s just my first action since the Finals and my timing was a little off and turnovers, I think, just trickled down to everybody. So, I made everyone’s timing off.”

The starting five was expectedly rusty with the group having spent little time together.

Wade was just bought out by the Bulls on September 24. Crowder and Isaiah Thomas went to Cleveland as part of the Kyrie Irving trade on August 30. And Love was just recently informed that he’d be moving to centre with the unit from power forward.

Love and Wade were a combined 2 for 19 Tuesday.

“I don’t think we’ll be the team we want to be in a week,” James said. “It’s going to be for the whole season. We’re going to have changes, we’re going to make changes, we’re going to become a better team as the games go on. So, the team opening night will not be the team that we know we can be.”

In another match, the Raptors never trailed as newcomer CJ Miles scored 19 points off the bench, including a 5-for-8 effort from three-point range in a one-sided 116-94 against Pistons.

Ish Smith led the Pistons with a game-high 22 points off the bench as the starting five struggled.

PISTONS: Langston Galloway scored 16 off the bench and Andre Drummond finished with 14 points and 11 points. Detroit’s starters shot just 13 for 39 (33.3 percent) from the floor.

RAPTORS: Jonas Valanciunas scored 18 and grabbed 11 rebounds in the victory. Serge Ibaka added 14 and DeMar DeRozan chipped in 13.