The third-year star tries to get back on track and help end a five-game losing streak as the Cavaliers play the Chicago Bulls.
James shot 7-for-21 and finished with just 19 points in Cleveland’s 97-90 home loss Wednesday to Sacramento. While James did have 12 assists, the Cavaliers scored only 17 fourth-quarter points. Memories of last season’s second-half collapse that led to another season out of the playoffs have begun to resurface.
“Right now, it’s all, ‘Here we go again,”’ Cavaliers forward Donyell Marshall admitted. “Obviously, with the talk of last year, we try not to let that affect us, but I think it’s affecting us right now.”
James has averaged 23.0 points his last four games but is shooting just 38.1 percent (32-for-84) from the field over that span. He has failed to shoot better than 45 percent in any of those games, and it also is the longest stretch this season he has not shot at least 50 percent at least once.
The 21-year-old small forward, though, has played well against the Bulls this season. He has scored 69 points in the two games and has averaged 25.2 points in 10 lifetime games versus Chicago.
The Bulls showed some resiliency in a 111-100 win Tuesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves. After a scary fall forced guard Malik Allen to leave the game by stretcher due to a sprained neck and fellow guard Chris Duhon absorbed a blow to the face trying to draw a charge, the Bulls maintained their poise to win for the third time in their last four home games.
Kirk Hinrich scored a season-high 30 points and matched a career best with 13 rebounds. The Bulls are not likely to have Allen for this game, while Duhon’s status is uncertain because he may need a face mask.
“Getting a facemask to protect the region he needs protected is awfully tough because you need your lower jaw to move (in order) to eat, to breathe,” Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi said. “We’re going to look into it further.”
The Bulls could use another strong performance from Luol Deng, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday. The second-year-forward had one of his worst games of the season Dec. 26 against the Cavaliers, who held him to four points on 2-for-12 shooting.