Right now, it’s James who’s looking to regain his scoring touch.
The league’s reigning scoring champion will try to break out of his offensive funk on Monday night when the Cavaliers travel to Texas to face the Dallas Mavericks, who are looking to build off their first win of the season.
A summer trade for point guard Mo Williams, who averaged 17.2 points last season with Milwaukee, was expected to give Cleveland (1-2) another shooter and potential distributor to feed James, who averaged 30.0 points in 2007-08 to win the league’s scoring crown.
Williams is averaging just 13.3 points through three games, but it’s been James’ struggles that have been the primary reason for the Cavaliers only scoring 91.0 points per game thus far. After shooting a career-high 48.4 percent last season, James is averaging 19.7 points on 43.1 percent shooting.
James went 6-of-15 and scored only 15 points on Saturday in Cleveland’s 104-92 loss at New Orleans.
“I never really got into a comfortable zone all night tonight,” said James, who is 0-for-9 from 3-point range this season. “We still were in the game going into the fourth quarter. But late in the game, I never got into it.”
James also had five turnovers for the second straight game, and the Cavaliers turned the ball over 18 times against the Hornets. They’re giving the ball away an average of 18.3 times so far - the third-most in the NBA.
“In order for us to be a good ball club, which I think we’re going to be … we have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball,” coach Mike Brown said. “Eighteen turnovers and 26 points off those 18 turnovers against one of the better teams in the league … it’s going to be hard to win a game.”
Unlike Cleveland, Dallas (1-1) has held on to the ball, turning it over just 21 times in two games. That didn’t make a difference in the Mavericks’ season opener, though, as they lost 112-102 to Houston despite 79 combined points from Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Terry and nine total turnovers.
That trio did the majority of the scoring again Saturday in Minnesota, combining for 54 points. But this time, some of the less-heralded Mavericks made a difference. Dallas got 21 of its 28 fourth-quarter points from the rest of its roster in a 95-85 victory, coach Rick Carlisle’s first with the team.
“We know in basketball you can’t win games with one or two guys, teams are too good now in this league,” said Nowitzki, who’s third in the league in scoring (28.5 ppg). “You have to have everyone playing at a high level.”
Dallas got 30.7 ppg from its bench last season, the ninth-best mark in the league. Cleveland, which averaged 26.1 points from its reserves, was 25th.
The Cavaliers got just 20.0 ppg from their bench last season in two games against Dallas, and shot 36.4 percent in each contest. The teams split the two meetings though, with each visiting team prevailing.
James, who had averaged 37.8 points in his previous five games against the Mavericks prior to last season, scored just 17.0 ppg versus Dallas in 2007-08.
Nowitzki is averaging 21.1 points and 10.1 rebounds in his career against the Cavaliers.