The Cleveland Cavaliers are sputtering a bit on the heels of their longest winning streak of the season.
The Cavaliers will look to bounce back from a pair of tough defeats when they host the New York Knicks on Friday night.
Cleveland (41-27) won eight straight games from March 3-17, but lost in overtime at Charlotte on Tuesday before falling 98-90 to the Western Conference-leading Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. The Cavaliers have not dropped more than three consecutive games all season.
Despite the last two losses, Cleveland is in second place in both the Central Division and the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games behind the Detroit Pistons.
“We’ve definitely been in some losing streaks this year, and this is the right time where if we’re going to be a great team, we have to realize where our mistakes have been the last two games and come in and take care of business, take care of home court against the Knicks on Friday,” said LeBron James, who had 31 points against the Mavericks.
James, who scored 37 points the previous night at Charlotte, banged his head on the floor while going for a loose ball and later took an elbow from Dirk Nowitzki in Wednesday’s game.
“I’m definitely not feeling 100 percent,” James said. “I took two dangerous hits today. Hopefully the day off (Thursday) will help me recover and get ready for Friday.”
Wednesday’s defeat ended a six-game winning streak at Quicken Loans for the Cavs, who are tied with Chicago for the best home record in the East at 26-9. However, they have dropped three of their last four at home against the Knicks.
New York has also won five of the last seven meetings between the teams overall.
The Knicks (30-38) have dropped four of their last five games but are just one-half game behind Orlando and Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. New York wrapped up a 1-3 homestand Thursday with a 92-86 loss to Portland - its second defeat on the homestand to a team with a losing record.
“It’s not getting any easier,” center Eddy Curry said. “These are games we feel like if we could have won these, it would have definitely put us in a better position than we are right now. But I think we can still match up with these teams we have left.”
Nate Robinson scored a season-high 31 points off the bench for the Knicks, who have failed to score in triple digits in any of their last seven games and have failed to reach 90 points in their last two.
New York is still without Jamal Crawford, who is nursing a stress fracture in his right ankle, and Quentin Richardson, who has a sprained right elbow. David Lee returned to action Thursday after missing 11 games with injuries to his right leg, but was scoreless in just under 10 minutes.
“Missing those guys, and that’s no excuse, but teams that figured out how to play us right now, we’ve got to find a way to play,” Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. “They’re double-teaming and triple-teaming Eddy. We’ve just got to find a way to score the basketball.”