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Blazers’ Mo Williams enjoying new role in new winning situation

CLEVELAND – Mo Williams knows winning.

He was a point guard on Cavaliers squads that won 66 and 61 games in back-to-back seasons (2008-09 and ’09-10). He’s now a member of a Trail Blazers team that entered Tuesday’s game at Cleveland with a league-best record of 21-4.

But these Blazers don’t necessarily remind Williams of those Cavs.

“It’s a totally different team,” he said. “But it’s a similar a feeling. We’re winning a lot. We do take the approach like it’s our last game, like it’s a must-win.”

Williams is averaging just more than nine points per game, coming off the bench behind reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.

Williams is enjoying the role.

“It doesn’t take me long to get comfortable anywhere,” he said. “I’m pretty much a smart, intelligent basketball player. I’m not ignorant in the sense of guys feeling they can do more than they can. You gotta know what the team needs and what they ask of you.”

That type of mentality and team-first attitude is why the Blazers are having early success, according to Williams.

“That’s what separates the really good teams from the bad,” he said. “I knew where I could fit with this team and be good. It’s all about accepting everybody, and here, one through 15 has accepted everyone. That goes for any good team. You might not like (your role); I’m sure guys 13 through 15 want to play. But at the end of the day, they have to accept where they are. Their time will come. And even for six through10 — they may get called on and have to step up.

“But when everybody’s healthy, you have to accept that this is our team, this is who we are, this is what we have to be in order to be successful. Guys here have bought into that.”

Williams was traded by the Cavs to the Clippers in 2010-11 in the deal that eventually netted Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall draft pick.

“Worked out OK for them, huh?” Williams once said, smiling.

But today, it appears to be working out OK for Williams, too.

Onuaku’s perfect night lifts cruising Charge

CANTON, Ohio – Forward Arinze Onuaku erupted for 29 points on 11-of-11 shooting, and guard Robert Hite made his season debut with 13 points, and the Canton Charge cruised to a 105-96 win over the visiting Erie BayHawks in NBA D-League action Saturday night.

The Charge (7-1) also received 11 points from former Cleveland State guard Shane Edwards.

Scott Suggs paced the BayHawks (0-6) with 22 points and rookie C.J. Leslie added 14 points and five rebounds.

Canton led 60-41 at halftime and 83-64 at the end of the third quarter.

The teams meet again tonight at the Canton Memorial Civic Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7.

Cavs G/F Carrick Felix to miss game at Orlando

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – Cavaliers guard/forward Carrick Felix did not travel with the team Thursday to Orlando because of left knee soreness. The Cavs play at the Magic on Friday (7 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio).  Felix is not expected to join the Cavs in time for Saturday’s game at Miami.

He will remain in Cleveland for additional examination and treatment at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health.

The 2013 second-round pick is averaging 1.3 points for the Cavs and 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Canton Charge.

Small-Time Basketball Report: Elliott Williams stepping up for Sixers

Note: The Small-Time Basketball Report is Sam Amico’s regular feature covering the NBA, the NBA D-League and pro basketball overseas.

Former Trail Blazers first-round draft pick Elliott Williams is off to a solid start with the 76ers.

Williams, a 6-foot-5 guard, is only averaging 2.9 points and 1.4 rebounds in 9.5 minutes, but has offered underrated intangibles that don’t show up on a stat line. The Sixers signed Williams (along with rookie guard Lorenzo Brown) on Nov. 20, when they waived center Kwame Brown, a former No. 1 overall pick, and guard Darius Morris.

Williams was selected with the No. 22 pick in 2010 but appeared in just 24 games with the Blazers after suffering an array of injuries. They included multiple knee surgeries and a ruptured Achilles tendon.

He was not re-signed by the Blazers over the summer — although he did attend training camp with the Cavaliers. Williams appeared in six of the Cavs’ eight preseason games, and was waived before the regular season started.

He has appeared in nine games for the Sixers.

• Former Akron center Zeke Marshall was obtained by the D-League’s Maine Red Claws in a three-team trade with the Reno Bighorns and Santa Cruz Warriors. Marshall, a 7-foot center, was not drafted by an NBA team after his senior season this past summer. Nor has he played for a D-League team. He most recently played with Yulon Luxgen in the Taiwan league, compiling averages of 12.7 points and 4.0 rebounds.

• Former Cavs forward Jamario Moon is averaging 10.6 points and 6.6 rebounds as a member of the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League. Moon, 33, has started four the D-Fenders’ first five games.

• The D-Fenders also obtained the rights to ex-Cavs guard Manny Harris from the Canton Charge for a 2014 first-round D-League draft selection Harris last played for the Charge in 2011-12.

• Speaking of the Charge, second-year forward Kevin Jones (another ex-Cav) has caught the eye of NBA scouts with his start to the season. When asked Wednesday about the odds of a call-up, Jones says he feels “like I have a pretty good shot.”

• Former Lakers and Cavs forward Luke Walton discussed his role with the D-Fenders on podcast on Ridiculous Upside, a website devoted to D-League coverage. Listen to it or read more here.

• Ex-Cleveland State forward J’Nathan Bullock has signed to play professionally in Finland.

• Also, former Youngstown State forward Damian Eargle has signed with the Saint John Mill Rats of NBL Canada. Eargle was named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year last season.

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO

Charge fall for first time this season

Arinze Onuaku recorded the 21st double-double of his career with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough for the Canton Charge, who lost their first game of the season, 121-112, to the host Delaware 87ers on Sunday.

Onuaka, a 6-foot-9 forward/center, connected on eight of 14 shots.

Former Cavaliers forward Kevin Jones notched 15 points for the Charge (5-1), and swingman Carrick Felix and center Henry Sims tacked on 14 and 13, respectively. Felix and Sims are on assignment from the Cavs.

The Sevens (4-2) received a game-high 23 points from Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Point guard Kendall Marshall, a former NBA lottery pick, added 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Canton returns to action Wednesday at home vs. the Tulsa 66ers. Tip-off is schedule for 7 p.m.

Charge remain unbeaten with win in Erie

Things are going pretty doggone well for the Cavaliers’ affiliate in the NBA D-League.

The latest example came Saturday, when the Canton Charge held off the host Erie BayHawks, 95-88, behind 17 points from Cavs assignee Henry Sims.

Canton is 5-0 heading into Sunday’s game at the expansion Delaware 87ers.

Sims also grabbed eight rebounds, and former Cavs forward Kevin Jones tallied 17 points and seven boards. Cavs rookie swingman Carrick Felix, also on assignment, added nine points on 3-of-6 shooting, and Charge first-round pick Bo Spencer continued his all-around strong play with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Jeremy Tyler and Ricky Davis scored 22 and 20 points, respectively, to pace the BayHawks (0-5). Also, rookie C.J. Leslie scored 17.

The Charge and 87ers are scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

Charge Notes: Biggs traded; Gutierrez out with injury

A couple of notes on the Canton Charge (4-0) prior to Saturday’s game at the Erie Bayhawks (7 p.m.):

• The Charge traded forward Tyrell Biggs to the Reno Bighorns on Friday and the rights to guard Manny Harris to the Los Angeles D-Fenders on Saturday. In return, the Charge received the Bighorns’ and D-Fenders’ 2014 second-round draft picks. That gives the Charge nine selections — their own six, the ones obtained from the Bighorns and D-Fenders, anda  third-rounder previously obtained from the Texas Legends.

• “With the overall strength of our roster and amount of depth we have in the frontcourt, we were in a unique position to be able to add future assets for our franchise,” said Cavaliers Director of D-League operations Mike Gansey.

• Biggs played in three games for the Charge and averaged 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in 21 minutes per game. Harris was not with the team.

• Charge guard Jorge Gutierrez will miss both weekend games (Saturday at Erie, Sunday at Delaware) with soreness related to plantar fasciitis in both feet. Gutierrez’s will continue to be evaluated and is day-to-day. The Charge return home Wednesday vs. the Tulsa 66ers.

Celtics’ Sullinger on tanking: ‘Y’all can kiss out butts’

After trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets, and losing coach Doc Rivers to the Clippers, the Celtics were supposed to stink.

They still might — although they’ve been OK so far (7-12 heading into Tuesday’s game vs. the Bucks).

Either way, second-year Celtics forward Jared Sullinger is not about to lose on purpose. In the NBA, this is what fans and media refer to as “tanking.” But players and coaches aren’t into it all, and Sullinger has made that perfectly clear.

“I don’t know why people keep talking about tanking,” said the former Ohio State star. “We have competitors out here. We’re really not like that.”

The 2014 draft class is among the most highly anticipated in a decade with names like Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins, Duke forward Jabari Parker and Kentucky big man Julius Randle.

Any team could certainly use any of those guys, the Celtics among them.

But for now, Sullinger and the Celtics are content aiming for the playoffs.

“We just want to win and show everybody that y’all can kiss our butts about the tanking stuff,” he said.

Sullinger is starting at power forward for first-year coach Brad Stevens and averaging 13.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He is coming off a 21-point, 14-rebound performance vs. the Bucks.

Globe compares Cavs to Thanksgiving turkeys

Cleveland fans aren’t the only ones taking their fair share of shots at the Cavaliers. Even out-of-towners are getting snarky at the Cavs’ expense.

Following the visiting Cavs’ 103-86 loss to the Celtics on Friday, Boston Globe reporter Baxter Holmes wrote:

“On Friday, the Cavaliers suffered the same fate as many turkeys this time of year. They were slaughtered.”

Holmes didn’t stop there.

“The Cavaliers landed the top pick in the 2013 NBA draft, and they look like they’ll be in contention to do it again after their pathetic effort in a 103-86 loss to the Celtics at TD Garden,” he wrote.

There’s more.

“To call it a competitive game is to really stretch the definition of the word ‘competitive,’” Holmes wrote. “The Celtics began with a game-opening 18-2 run that was really a game-closing run, too.”

Without a doubt, things are bad for the Cavs (4-12) right now. And it’s no longer just the local folks who have something to say about it.

On the bright side, this is the NBA, and there’s always another game. (The Cavs play at home vs the Bulls on Saturday.) So there’s still time to turn those jeers from tears to cheers. And maybe prove that, hey, some turkeys can fly.

As an aside, Holmes is one of my favorites on the NBA beat. You can check out his full Celtics-Cavs recap right here.

Charge scrape Armor to remain unbeaten

CANTON, Ohio — Steve Hetzel is the first-year coach of the Canton Charge, and already, his team is showing some impressive balance.

Four members of Hetzel’s reached double figures in scoring Friday, as the Charge remained unbeaten with a 91-88 win over the Springfield Armor.

The Charge (3-0) and Armor (0-2) meet again Saturday night at 7 at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.

Antoine Agudio led Canton with 16 points, and Kevin Jones, Jorge Gutierrez and first-round draft pick Bo Spencer each chipped in 10. Jones, a former member of the Cavaliers, also collected 10 rebounds for his second double-double in the Charge’s three games.

The Charge led by 12 points at the end of the third quarter. But the Armor closed the game on an 8-2 run to make it close.

Hetzel was pleased with how his team was able to weather things and hang on for the win.

“Basketball is a game of momentum,” he said. “You can feel it when the game starts to slip away, but the trust of our guys that they know we can get stops is a huge thing for us.”

Dennis Horner led Springfield with 16 points and nine rebounds. Gary Forbes added 13 points and JamesOn Curry scored 12.