After Saturday’s loss at Milwaukee spoiled an NBA season-best 52 points from James, the Cavs try to bounce back when they open a four-game homestand with a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.
James connected on 19 of 29 shots, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range against the Bucks, but the 20-year-old All-Star received little help in a 111-106 loss.
“I don’t want to score 50 again for the rest of my career because I am now 0-2 when I score 50,” said James, who fell four points shy of his career high set in a loss at Toronto on March 20. “I don’t look at it as me playing well. It’s the fact that we didn’t get a win and that’s all I care for.”
James, who also had seven assists and seven rebounds, had 31 points in the first half on 13-of-17 shooting but the Cavs still fell to 1-4 over their last five games—all of which have seen James score at least 30 points. Cleveland went 5-1 over the first six games this season in which he hit that plateau.
“He scored 50-some in Toronto and we ended up losing,” center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said. “He obviously had a great night, but we couldn’t get the crucial stops. They beat us to the loose balls or they got the offensive boards or we had offensive breakdowns.”
Ilgauskas was the only other Cavs player to reach double figures with 20 points Saturday while Larry Hughes, second on the team in scoring, struggled from the field for the third time in four games with a 2-for-8 performance.
Cleveland, which also faces Denver, Miami and Utah on the homestand, has lost six of eight since a season-high eight-game winning streak.
“We will get it together,” James said. “We know we’re a good team.”
Atlanta is coming off a surprising 94-84 win over defending champion San Antonio on Saturday that snapped its seven-game losing streak.
Atlanta led the Spurs by 13 points after one quarter on Nov. 15 in San Antonio, but faded late in a 103-79 loss. This time, they finished strong, outscoring the Spurs 25-13 in the final period.
“We’ve had games early in the season when we were leading down the stretch,” said Josh Childress, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. “This is a game we finished. We got the shots we wanted.”
The Hawks have dropped seven straight to the Cavs since a 92-83 win at home on Nov. 22, 2003.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 12): Hawks - 5th place, 7 GB, Southeast Division. Cavaliers - 4th place, 4 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hawks - Johnson, 18.4 ppg and 5 apg; Pachulia, 9.5 rpg. Cavaliers - James, 30.3 ppg and 4.9 apg; Gooden, 8.9 rpg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Cavaliers, 4-0.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 16; Cavaliers, 111-89. At Cleveland, James scored 28 points and Ilgauskas added 18 to help the Cavs reach 30 victories before the All-Star break for only the fourth time in team history.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hawks - 1-10 on the road; Cavaliers - 7-2 at home.