CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers have spent a lot of time talking, but now they have to turn their words into wins.
In the past two days, reports surfaced of team meetings. In the first, reserve forward James Jones asked his teammates to dig down deep and ask themselves what they wanted.
Apparently, it had the effect of getting the team to play one half of good basketball against the Chicago Bulls in a game they eventually lost.
The second meeting came right after the defeat with LeBron James taking the lead, coach Tyronn Lue said. The second-year coach said he didn’t feel the need to talk to the team.
“No, the guys talked last night,” he said. “They had a good talk amongst themselves, now we’ve got to move on and play. We’ve done enough talking over the last couple of weeks. Now we just have to settle in and just play.”
Even Lue knows such meetings can offer mixed results.
“If you did something about it,” he said when asked if meetings help. “If you keep talking about it, no.”
He also understands the reality of the situation. The Cavs returned home Friday night to face the Philadelphia 76ers having lost three in a row and five-of-seven.
Jones said that it’s up to the team’s best players to lead the team out of its rut. After a blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week, guard Kyrie Irving was seen working out. James arrived at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday afternoon at 3:30 to get in extra work.
“We look to those guys to see how they respond to adversity,” Jones said, “but once the lights come on we know what they’re about mentally. If they’re out there leading on the floor, I know that they’re locked in.”
Jones said team meetings are effective.
“The only way to get on the same page is to talk,” he said.
For Lue, it’s time to put those words to use.
“We had a couple of meetings, and now we have to do something about it,” he said. “We can talk all we want, but until we perform it means nothing.”
Struggling at the line
LeBron James’ name continues to be mentioned among Most Valuable Player candidates, but one aspect of his game hasn’t been to that level.
James is having his worst season from the free-throw line, and he knows it.
“It’s killing me. It’s killing me. Yeah it’s killing me, it’s killing me. Can’t have everything. Everything else is creeping up, and that’s taking a step down,” he said after Thursday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Ironically, a free throw moved James past former teammate Shaquille O’Neal on the all-time scoring list.
James would have hit the mark quicker had his free-throw shooting been up to par.
“How many points would Shaq have in his career if he made his free throws? He might have 60,000 points. I don’t know,” Lue said, laughing.
O’Neal, a career 52.7 percent shooter at the line, missed 5,317 attempts in his career. James isn’t concerned about how he’s shooting from the line now.
“I’ll be fine for the playoffs,” he said. “For the rest of the regular season I’m going to end up shooting in the 60s, which is a career low for me, but the postseason I’ll be up there in the 80s.”
Forward Kevin Love accomplished a rare feat for him. He fouled out of a game after playing just 21 minutes. It was only the fourth time in his career that’s happened, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I got caught in some bad spots, especially with that fifth and sixth foul,” he said. “[It was] just one of those games, but I wasn’t able to go out there and help the guys like I was capable of.”
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.