Chuck Pagano is winning his battle with leukemia

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Chuck Pagano is winning his battle with leukemia

From Comcast SportsNetINDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is winning his battle with leukemia.On Monday, Dr. Larry Cripe, Pagano's physician, told The Associated Press that the illness which has sidelined Indy's head coach for more than a month was in "complete remission." Cripe said a morning exam showed Pagano's white blood cell count and bone marrow tests were normal as he prepares to start a second round of chemotherapy.The doctor explained patients typically undergo three rounds of treatment to wipe out any potentially lingering cancer cells. The second round of chemo is scheduled to start later this week and will last four to six weeks, Cripe said."His (blood cell) count was great," interim coach Bruce Arians told reporters after Pagano visited the team complex Monday. "He knows that this next one (round) is going to be really tough and we're praying for him, and he's going to be fine."The latest medical update came less than 24 hours after Pagano returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia on Sept. 26. Pagano spent most of the next month in an Indianapolis hospital, watching two Colts games from his room. On Oct. 21, he returned home where he watched the next two Indy games. Doctors wanted to keep him in primarily sterile environments to avoid any risk of infection.On Sunday, Pagano cleared yet another hurdle when doctors allowed him to attend the Miami game in person. He watched the Colts win their third straight, 23-20, from the coaches' box and provided inspirational messages to players before and after the game."I've got circumstances. You guys understand it, I understand it. It's already beat. It's already beat," Pagano said during Sunday's postgame speech, hesitating to catch his breath a couple of times. "My vision that I'm living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then lift the Lombardi Trophy several times. I'm dancing at two more weddings and we're hoisting that trophy together, men. Congratulations, I love all of you."Pagano's appearance Sunday was a clear indication things were going well. Cripe confirmed that in his comments Monday.On the field, things have gone well for the Colts, too. Indy (5-3) is 4-1 since Arians, also a cancer survivor, was made interim coach and the sudden spate of success has put Indy back in the playoff discussion.But as the Colts continue to shock the NFL world, Pagano's health status continues to loom large.Team officials have hung signs reading (hash)Chuckstrong in each end zone of Lucas Oil Stadium. Reggie Wayne wore orange gloves for two games, the color designated to recognize leukemia, and Arians usually wears a button with an orange ribbon between the two sides of the horseshoe on his hat.It's unclear whether Pagano will return to full coaching duties this season, though Arians made it clear he hopes that happens."Once he comes back from Round 2 and is about to head into Round 3, our goal is for him to be on the sideline Dec. 30," Arians said, referring to Indy's regular-season finale against Houston."We know what's coming, the downhill slide is yet to come," Arians added. "To me it's kind of like talking to him about the playoffs this week; one day at a time, one play at a time. There's some down time coming, but it's great to see him here."

Celtics move into No. 1 spot in East as Cavs get crushed by Spurs

Celtics move into No. 1 spot in East as Cavs get crushed by Spurs

SAN ANTONIO -- The Cavaliers acknowledged having heavy legs, yet there is something far weightier on the minds of the defending NBA champions.

Cleveland is in the midst of one of its worst stretches this season and there is little time to fix it.

Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cavs 103-74 on Monday night in a much-anticipated showdown that turned into a major letdown for Cleveland.

"The way we've been struggling, (the Spurs are) the last team that you want to play," said LeBron James, who was fine after taking an elbow to the neck. "A well-oiled machine like this, they exploit everything that you're not doing well at that point in time of the season and right now we're not playing good basketball."

James, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes, said he will play Thursday at Chicago.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Cavaliers have nine games remaining, all against teams in the East, including a visit to Boston on April 5.

James said the standings "always matter," but playing more consistently is far more important and he refused to blame injuries or an arduous schedule for the team's troubles.

"It matters more that we're playing better basketball than where we're at," he said. "If that results in us having the No. 1 seed, the No. 2 seed, 3 or whatever the hell it is, we need to play better basketball. That's what it comes down to."

What Cleveland is seeking, the Spurs have already found.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home game against the Warriors on Wednesday.

The Spurs have won five straight and 8 of 10 after sweeping the season series with the Cavaliers.

"It was a big game, but in the end, it's just one game, and one win," San Antonio guard Tony Parker said. "We're trying to be consistent. We're trying to play the same way every game. It was definitely surprising. Coming off a loss, I thought they would play with a lot more energy, but it can happen. It's a long season. It's just one game and I'm sure they're going to bounce back and use this game as motivation."

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs.

San Antonio led by as many as 33 to the delight of the sold-out crowd, and the Spurs' bench outscored the Cavaliers' reserves 49-24.

"We did a good job coming out early and then keeping our foot on the pedal," Leonard said.

Cleveland, which was already without injured Iman Shumpert, received more bad news Monday morning when it was announced that Kyle Korver will miss at least two more games with a sore left foot.

"You lose Korver and Shumpert off your bench and things tend to change," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "With those two guys out, we tried some different things and it didn't work. It was not on the bench. It was on me."

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than rest them, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of the Cav's second lopsided loss in the past two weeks.

Lue said he has considered resting his stars over the team's final nine games, which James is not in favor of.

"Coach is going to have his logic of things, but we need to play," he said.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt. He remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench.

James left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout, but said afterward he is fine.

EXTRA SHOOTING

Irving returned to the court for about 15 minutes following the loss to work on his jump shot. The star guard had eight points and two assists in 26 minutes. He finished 4 for 13 from the field and missed his two 3-point attempts.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers . . . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points . . . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding opponents under 100 points per game for the 22nd straight season . . . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots . . . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Bertrand: Raptors a 'scary team' in the Eastern Conference

Bertrand: Raptors a 'scary team' in the Eastern Conference

Mike Felger and Marc Bertrand talk about the Celtics clinching the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference and other potential threats for the C's.