James looks to continue his incredible play Sunday night when the Cavaliers host the New York Knicks, a team against which he scored 52 points last month.
Cleveland (52-13) defeated Miami 99-89 at home March 7 before embarking on its trip, where it took all three games. James had a triple-double against the Heat and also accomplished the feat in the first two games of the trip versus the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix.
He didn’t register a fourth straight triple-double Friday night, instead scoring 51 points and adding nine assists in a 126-123 overtime win over Sacramento to help Cleveland win its first division title since 1975-76.
“It’s been 33 years, way before I was born,” James said. “We put up a banner, that’s Central Division champs. That’s something we can be very proud of doing.”
Brown was proud of his team for winning the Central, but he wasn’t pleased with its play during the trip. The Cavs, who lead the NBA in scoring defense at 91.2 points per game, gave up 105.7 out West.
“This was the best-worst three-game road trip I’ve ever been on in my life,” said Brown, who was ejected in the third quarter Friday night after receiving two technical fouls for going on the court and arguing a call.
“We’ve been outscoring our opponents the last three games but we have not been accountable on the defensive end. That has to change.”
Cleveland has had no trouble shutting down New York (28-37) this season.
The Cavs have taken the first three meetings by an average of 19.7 points, holding Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense to 95.0 per game. The Knicks, fourth in the league in scoring (106.3), totaled their fourth-fewest points this season in a 118-82 loss Dec. 3 in their first visit to Cleveland.
James had 21 points in just 28 minutes in that game, but in the most recent meeting he scored 52 to go along with 11 assists and nine rebounds in a 107-102 victory Feb. 4 at Madison Square Garden.
Cleveland is 28-1 at home and will be facing a Knicks team that’s 10-22 on the road, but three of those victories have come in New York’s last three games.
The Knicks opened their season high-tying five-game trip with a 106-101 loss to New Jersey last Sunday before posting victories over Milwaukee, Detroit and Minnesota.
New York is on its first three-game road win streak since April 2005 and hasn’t taken four straight away from home since a five-game run from Dec. 22, 2000-Jan. 19, 2001 - a stretch during which James celebrated his 16th birthday.
“We’re just a better team all around,” guard Nate Robinson said after scoring 25 in Friday night’s 102-94 victory over the Timberwolves.
Robinson, who fought through a stomach virus and was throwing up on the bench, is averaging 27.1 points, 5.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds in his last 14 games. Only Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and James are averaging more points over that span.
The Knicks, who haven’t been to the postseason since 2003-04 and haven’t won a playoff game since 2001, are one of six teams within a few games of each other for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“Definitely still have a long way to go, but we’re definitely headed in the right direction,” guard Larry Hughes said. “We’re still fighting and clawing for position in the playoffs, and right now we’re still alive.”