MIAMI: He stood near the foul line posing, wiping his face and ``cleaning'' his jersey after a foul knocked his headband off in the third quarter. LeBron James wanted to savor the moment a little longer.
His old teammates can't wait for it all to end.
James improved to 3-0 against his former team with the Miami Heat's 117-90 victory over the Cavaliers on Monday. It completes the first winless month (minimum 10 games) in Cavs history and follows the recently set franchise record for consecutive losses in a single season (21 and counting).
The Cavs went 0-16 in January, finding the only narrow path to regression from what apparently was a prosperous 1-15 mark in December. Add it all up and the Cavs have lost 31 of their last 32 and 24 in a row on the road.
James has seemingly taken jabs at the Cavs in the past, including his now famous tweet about karma, but he didn't feel like twisting the dagger on Monday.
``I have nothing bad to say about the players I left and the team,'' he said. ``I wish the organization the best and I wish the fans more than anything the best. We had a lot of great years together.''
Those are long gone now. That was evident again on Monday, when James had 24 points and eight assists and Dwyane Wade had 34 points in the Heat's victory. James said before the game he didn't feel vindicated for his decision given the Cavs' struggles, but he sure seemed to enjoy the victory.
After Joey Graham's forearm brushed over James' head, knocking off his headband in the third quarter, James posed for a moment and enjoyed the moment. Then he stared down Samardo Samuels later in the quarter following another basket — even though he never played with Graham or Samuels during his time in Cleveland.
James was perhaps trying to light a fire under his new teammates, since the game was suddenly closer in the third quarter than most anyone expected. The Cavs trailed by 19 in the first half, but chopped that all the way down to 70-67 on a long jumper by Antawn Jamison with 8:34 left in the third.
The Cavs couldn't get any closer, missing their next seven shots and connecting just twice more from the floor in the quarter as the Heat pushed the lead back out to 89-72 entering the fourth.
Antawn Jamison had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Manny Harris had 20 points and Ramon Sessions had 11 points and seven assists as the only true point guard available. As expected, Daniel Gibson was forced to miss the game with a left quad injury he initially sustained at the New Jersey Nets, then reinjured in successive games against the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets.
The leg has swelled up and turned bruised to the point Gibson was forced to miss the game and could also miss Wednesday's game against the Indiana Pacers — although Gibson believes the rest between now and then will allow him to play.
Scoring wasn't a problem early so much as the defense. Wade put on a personal dunk clinic in the first half, with numerous clear paths to the basket for powerful jams as the Cavs just stood by and watched.
They trailed 35-20 after the first quarter, but dug in during the second quarter to get the deficit within 10 at the half. The Cavs outrebounded the Heat in the second quarter 12-4 and outscored them 37-31, but the game slipped away in the second half.
This meeting between James and the Cavs didn't carry the same frenzy or buzz that the first two meetings produced. The fact this one was also in Miami played a role in that, but more importantly were the injuries the Cavs have suffered and the vastly different directions the two teams have headed since the first meeting on Dec. 2.
Among the Cavs who played Monday night, the only one who played with James for more than a year was Hickson. Three of the starters (Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris and Ramon Sessions) never played with James, nor did a number of the Cavs' reserves.
``I think it's more of a game now,'' Cavs coach Byron Scott said. ``The first two were kind of crazy. Both teams have kind of went their separate ways. They're doing extremely well and we've been hit with the unbelievable injury bug. I think it's just a game right now.''
But just like all the rest, it's a game the Cavs can't win.
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