Cava­liers coach de­fends LeBron af­ter ‘weird’ loss

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY TOM WITHERS THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

LeBron James was nowhere to be seen, stay­ing be­hind the scenes, keep­ing a low pro­file. Just as he did in Game 3. James did not ad­dress the me­dia Mon­day, hours af­ter one of the worst post-sea­son games of his ca­reer, an 11-point, six-turnover, head-scratch­ing atroc­ity in a 111-108 loss to the Bos­ton Celtics that — for the time be­ing — has made the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nals in­ter­est­ing.

As is al­ways the case with Cleve­land’s su­per­star, the poor per­for­mance prompted the usual spec­u­la­tion and sus­pi­cion: Is he hurt? Was he send­ing a mes­sage to his team­mates? What in the name of Red Auer­bach hap­pened?

“It was a weird game,” Cavs coach Ty­ronn Lue said. “A weird-feel­ing game.”

And it was an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally pas­sive per­for­mance by James, who had scored at least 30 in eight straight play­off games and im­posed his will on the over­matched Celtics in the se­ries’ first two games.

But James wasn’t him­self Sun­day night, not by a long stretch. He passed up shots and made men­tal and phys­i­cal mis­takes nor­mally re­served for oth­ers.

For a su­per­star who reg­u­larly seizes the big­gest mo­ments and makes them his own, it was strange to see James ba­si­cally look like one of Cleve­land’s re­serves. He took just three shots and didn’t at­tempt a free throw in the fourth quar­ter.

In­cred­i­bly, he went score­less over the fi­nal 16 min­utes.

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