James and the surging Cavaliers look to win their eighth straight Saturday when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA’s lowest scoring team.
Cleveland (16-3) continued its impressive run since a 1-2 start, beating the Indiana Pacers 97-73 on Friday. The Cavaliers led by as many as 28 points and scored 29 points off 16 Pacers turnovers.
“Defense,” James said, “is our staple.”
Cleveland has one of the best defenses in the NBA, holding opponents to 91.1 points per game, including an average of 83.8 points on 38.6 percent shooting in its last five contests. The 73 points Indiana scored Friday were the fewest allowed by the Cavs this season, and continued a string of blowouts. Cleveland has outscored opponents by 22 points during its winning streak.
“We are playing extremely well,” guard Mo Williams said. “As a team, we have got to take that challenge and keep ourselves motivated.”
The defensive effort Friday helped make up for a rare off night by James, who was held to 11 points and 11 assists. James, who came in averaging 27.4 points, was 4-of-12 from the field, scoring his fewest points since being limited to 10 against Dallas on Oct. 31, 2007.
“It was all about the defense and we have enough guys that can score,” he said. “Andy took care of it in the first half on the offensive end and then Z, Mo and the rest of the guys took care of it in the second.”
Friday was only the 15th time in James’ career he’s been held to 11 or fewer points. After his 10-point game against the Mavericks last season, he went out the next game and scored 45 in a win against the New York Knicks.
The Bobcats (7-12), meanwhile, will try to win their third straight at home Saturday after failing to win three in a row overall after suffering a 101-96 loss at Milwaukee on Friday.
Jason Richardson scored 20 points while Emeka Okafor and Raymond Felton each added 19. The Bobcats shot 51.4 percent from the field and went 10-of-19 from 3-point range, but they were outrebounded 41-27.
“At the end of the day, it was just the fact that we couldn’t rebound the ball defensively and that killed us,” coach Larry Brown said.
The Bobcats had won three of their previous four and were looking to win three in a row for the first time since March 26-29. Friday was the second time in the last five games it was held below 100 points. Charlotte is the NBA’s lowest scoring team at 90.4 points per game.
Cleveland is 13-3 against the Bobcats, but just 5-3 on the road against them. The Cavs beat Charlotte 96-79 at home on Oct. 30. James scored 22 points and had nine rebounds and nine assists. He’s averaging 27.4 points in seven games in Charlotte.