CLEVELAND — LeBron James is in the midst of the most lopsided losing streak of his career. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 124-107 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday marked the Cavs’ fourth straight loss by a total of 63 points.
Cleveland’s current stretch of futility edges out the four-game losing streak James endured in March 2004 when he lost four games by a total of 61 points as a rookie.
While James put the third loss of the streak — a 114-95 rout at the hands of the New York Knicks — in perspective by saying he was “not about to go crazy over it” because it was only October, his nonchalance was gone when he addressed the fourth loss in a row, to Indiana.
“It’s a new month,” James said, explaining his dour mood. “It’s a new month. It’s a new month.”
The Cavs (3-5) closed out October with a Halloween party hosted by James on Monday followed by an air-it-out team meeting on Tuesday and then went out and were outscored by the Pacers by 16 in the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
“We have an opportunity to be very good and then you see some of the lulls that we have and it’s just very difficult on our team right now,” James said. We’re just trying to figure it out on the fly … So, our team is kind of depleted as well, both on and off the floor.”
The Cavs were also bit by the injury bug again. Tristan Thompson left the game in the second quarter with a left calf strain and did not return. Thompson, who exited the arena on crutches with his left leg in a brace, will undergo an MRI on Thursday, multiple sources told ESPN. He is expected to miss at least the next two games and the Cavs will go back to Jae Crowder in the starting lineup in his place.
James also had reason to be testy after his old irritant, Lance Stephenson, struck him in the groin in the first half, earning a flagrant 1 foul after an officials review.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue went the opposite direction as James in his analysis, choosing to focus on signs of improvement he saw against Indiana.
“The other games we just got our butts kicked,” Lue said. “Tonight I thought we did some good things. We just couldn’t sustain it. But the other games we just flat out got our butts kicked, so, seeing improvement. Just have to keep plugging, keep working. Coaches, players, everybody just continue to try to keep getting better.”
That includes James. While he scored a game-high 33 points against the Pacers, becoming the sixth player in NBA history with 400-plus 30-point games, joining elite company in Michael Jordan (562), Wilt Chamberlain (515), Karl Malone (435), Kobe Bryant (431) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (429), he also coughed up eight turnovers, tying a season high.
“Eight for myself, that’s way too many,” James said. “You know, [you accept] the three or four range, but you double that, it’s not good ingredients for your team to be successful. So, I’ll take [responsibility for] that for sure. I have the ball in my hands a lot, so I have to be very careful with my decision making. So, I take full responsibility for all our turnovers tonight because it starts with me.”
The Cavs had 16 turnovers Wednesday resulting in 22 points for the Pacers. Cleveland also struggled in a couple areas that have been plaguing them all season: guarding the 3-pointer (Indiana shot 16-for-26 from deep) and shooting the 3 (Cleveland went just 7-for-31 from the outside).
“For the most part we was in the right place,” James said. “Coaching staff gave us a scheme and we tried to, for the most part we executed. They still hit some bombs right in our face, and rotations we had and things of that nature. Sometimes the ball just didn’t bounce our way. I mean, I remember one of our rotations Cory Joseph hit a 3 that went around the rim three or four times and went in, and [Victor] Oladipo hit a bomb behind a pick-and-roll on me. They hit one on JR [Smith] as well. Those are well guarded. And a lot of our possessions were well guarded, they just made them.”
Cleveland came into the night as a 10.5 point favorite and lost. It was the third time this season the Cavs were a double-digit favorite and lost. Never before in James’ career has one of his team’s lost that many games as a double-digit home favorite in a single season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In fact, coming into this season, James’ teams were 174-13 (.930) as double-digit home favorites. This season they’re 1-3 (.250).
“We have to go through something to get to where we want to be,” said Cavs forward Jeff Green. “For us, we’re lucky that this is happening now and not in April, not out there the last game of 82. We’ll fix it. It’s going to take some time, but we’ll fix it. I know that for a fact.”
Several other Cavs players took to Twitter to echo Green’s confidence.
Better days ahead!!!
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) November 2, 2017
When it go down, I’m wit the sh*ts. We will get thru this. We been thru the trenches #theytriiidit https://t.co/usSPsv1Kwd
— Iman. (@imanshumpert) November 2, 2017