Not surprisingly, LeBron James’ offensive struggles didn’t last long. On Friday, he leads the Cleveland Cavaliers against one of their favorite division rivals over the last several seasons as they try to continue their early success at home.
James and the Cavaliers look to win their eighth straight over the Indiana Pacers on Friday when they meet at Quicken Loans Arena.
James scored a season-high 41 points in a 107-93 win over Chicago on Wednesday, helping the Cavaliers (3-2) improve to 2-0 in Cleveland after opening their home schedule with a 96-79 victory over Charlotte on Oct. 30.
Cleveland hasn’t lost to the Pacers (1-2) since Nov. 24, 2006. The Cavs have won 10 of the last 11 overall versus Indiana and have taken seven in a row at home in the series, with their last home loss to the Pacers coming in double overtime in 2004.
James reached the 30-point mark in three of the four games against the Pacers last season, and scored 17 points in the other contest because he played just 23 minutes off the bench after returning from an ankle injury.
After averaging 19.7 points in his first three contests, James has averaged 35.0 points in the last two. That’s due in large part to him getting back to his aggressive ways on offense along with improved foul shooting, as he’s 28-of-31 from the line in the previous two games after starting the season 15-of-24.
“I have always been an attack guy and anytime you can get teams into early foul trouble or get us in the bonus, it helps us because we are a pretty good free-throw shooting team,” said James, who added nine rebounds and six assists Wednesday. “I just wanted to be aggressive all night long and against a young team like this, you want to just keep on trying to continue to attack them and I was able to do that as an individual and as a team we did that.”
The Pacers will be trying to snap their losing streak in Cleveland following a 113-103 home loss to Phoenix on Wednesday.
T.J. Ford and Danny Granger each scored 23 points for Indiana, but the Pacers allowed Amare Stoudemire to score 49 and were unable to protect a seven-point halftime lead as they struggled in the third quarter.
The Suns outscored the Pacers 31-18 in the third.
“We just couldn’t figure out how to do the things that we were doing earlier,” Ford said. “We lost our offense, defense and couldn’t get stops. We couldn’t get the spark that we needed.”
Indiana came in looking to build momentum after a 95-79 win over Boston, but gave up a season high in points while allowing the Suns to shoot 55.8 percent from the field.
Indiana was one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams last season, giving up 105.4 points per game.
“I just think we have to do more,” Indiana coach Jim O’Brien said. “We played a brilliant first half of offensive basketball, then we didn’t even have an average third quarter.”
Granger averaged 25.5 points in the two home games against the Cavs last season, but 15.0 in the two games in Cleveland.