There were plenty of things for LeBron James to be angry about but more than anything was simply losing 103-99 to the Indiana Pacers which means the end to the 12-game winning streak, falling one shot of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise record.
The Pacers enjoyed a big fourth quarter, outscoring the Cavaliers 36-29 in it. Overall their defense worked a lot better in the second half. The Cavaliers shot 51% from the field in the first half including 50% from beyond the arc (5-of-10) helping them build an 8-point lead. In the second half? Only 39% from the field while going a bit wild from long range, making only 6-of-25 from 3-point range while turning the ball over 11 times.
One of those turnovers seemed to doom the game was after LeBron James tried a tricky behind the back pass in a bad situation which led to a steal by C.J. Miles, forcing Iman Shumpert to foul and open up a four point lead. Miles had a fantastic game, scoring 26 points. David West game him a lot of help with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and George Hill added 20 points and 7 assists, cited by LeBron James as a player who made a huge difference.
Hill had his biggest moment of the game when he put the Pacers in the lead for good, hitting a one-handed 3-pointer while being fouled with 1:25 left in the game. It might have been a super lucky shot that had nothing to do with ability or planning, but it it did the damage that seemed to deflate the Cavaliers’ hopes for good. That, and James picking up a weird offensive foul for trying to score over Roy Hibbert. This isn’t the first time in the last few years some weird calls have gone against him when playing in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Hibbert hit James with a flagrant foul during the game, causing a minor injury to LeBron’s wrist.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 29 points and James followed with 25 points, but Kevin Love had one of his more refrained performances, scoring just 5 points on 2-of-8 from the field, finding himself wide open more than once and looking quite reluctant or hesitant to take the shot. He did pick up a couple of impressive assists from choosing to pass it along, but the Cavaliers need Love to feel confident in his shooting again instead of having these on and off nights from him.
Overall, a loss isn’t the end of the world. The Cavaliers are obviously under the microscope this season and everything, good and bad, gets blown out proportions. But just like the winning streak didn’t turn them into the best team in the league, one loss against a team that’s difficult to score against and always gives a little bit more when facing LeBron James. The Cavaliers are heading in the right direction, unless this loss turns into another ugly slide.