The true indicator of a great player often lies in his ability to bounce back from a poor performance.
James, who at 19 is quickly establishing himself as one of the most dynamic and versatile players in the league, is averaging nearly 25 points and seven assists per game this season. However, he was held to a season-low 11 points on a dismal 4-of-21 shooting effort during Thursday’s 81-69 loss at Detroit.
James had averaged a little more than 28 points in his previous three games, helping the Cavs to two victories, including an impressive 112-88 rout of Portland one night before his forgettable outing against the defending NBA champions.
“I missed a lot of shots that I’m normally going to make, but they were playing really tough defense against me,” said James, who scored a career-low four points last year as a rookie. “Every time I came off a screen, they doubled me.”
James should feel a lot more comfortable in Cleveland, where the Cavs have won nine straight—their most since enjoying a 12-game home winning streak in 1993.
Cleveland, however, will be without backup point guard Eric Snow due to a one-game suspension he was given by the team for his sideline confrontation with coach Paul Silas in Thursday’s loss.
The Celtics, meanwhile, got a season-high 27 points and 10 assists from Gary Payton in Friday’s 114-106 victory over Utah. Boston won for the third time in four games, and rebounded nicely from a tough 100-99 defeat to Denver on Wednesday in which Paul Pierce missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Pierce, Boston’s leading scorer, managed just 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting Friday, but his teammates picked up the slack as the Celtics had seven double-digit scorers.