LeBron Questions His Teammates Hunger and Toughness

Pistons 104, Cavaliers 99

Passing Jerry West on the scoring list and becoming the 19th best scorer in NBA history didn’t mean LeBron James was going to be happy post-game. Yes, he was humbled to pass West. “To be able to pass a legend like himself, it’s an honor, an honor for sure. I know how much he did for the game, what he meant to the game.”

But stung because the Cavaliers lost a divisional game at Detroit, a game in which the Cavs had a double digit lead in the third quarter, James pointed out the obvious. The Cavs aren’t hungry. Or, they aren’t as hungry as their Finals opponent who have come out of the gate like they were the ones who lost in six games. But it was the Cavs who lost in June, not the Warriors. And it is the Warriors who are playing like they are on a mission, not the Cavs.

Despite their 8-3 record, the Cavs have struggled in parts of games, have coasted and looked disinterested, have relaxed only to have to fight in the 4th quarter and LeBron was sick of it.

We lost in the Finals. We didn’t win. We lost. And the team that beat us looks hungrier than we are. It shouldn’t be that way.”

With 8 minutes left in the third, the Cavs had a 13 point lead. Coming into the game, the Pistons were on a four game losing streak, having lost all the road games in the state of California. Not only were they tired, they were desperate for a win. A small push to get the lead to 20 and they probably would have folded. But just as quickly as the Cavs took a 13 point lead, the Pistons and Ersan Ilyasova cut the lead to 10. By the time the 4th quarter came around, the Pistons were down by 8 with 8 minutes left.

They Cavs went on a two minute scoring drought. Turnovers and missed shots, fouls and Andre Drummond rebounds, were all responsible. With five minutes left it was a three point game. With four minutes, the Cavs began intentionally fouling Drummond.

A Drummond free throw gave the Pistons the lead with a little over two minutes left. Kevin Love missed a three. LeBron missed a jump shot followed by a costly turnover. In the last two minutes Cleveland scored two points, a LeBron drive at the end of the game. They were 1-5 with misses by Love, Mosgov, James, Williams and Smith.

The Cavs gave up 29 points in the fourth quarter, managing only 18 points.

More LeBron analysis: “We are too relaxed and too nice. We need to get tougher but I’m not talking about being an iron man. You have to be mentally tough, and that means performing at the best of your abilities at all times. We’ve got some guys who do that all the time and some guys who don’t.”

Up next for the Cavs are the Bucks on Thursday.

photo via llananba