LeBron, Cavs vent after latest road loss


VIDEO: LeBron James was none too pleased after Cleveland’s loss in Toronto

From NBA.com staff reports

Even after falling in Toronto to the Raptors last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers still sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with an 11-4 mark. The troubling sign for them, though, has come on the road, where they are 3-4 and have lost three straight. After last night’s loss, Cavs star LeBron James questioned his team’s mental toughness and reports of a players-only meeting began to surface.

ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin reported the team did in fact have a players-only meeting while Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group did not report the same. Whatever happened after the game, this much is certain: there were some harsh truths doled out by James and some of his veteran teammates to the team’s younger players.

Here’s McMenamin’s report on the players-only meeting:

Following a 103-99 road loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers held a players-only meeting during which LeBron James and James Jones got on the team for its inconsistent play through the Cavs’ 11-4 start to the season, multiple sources told ESPN.com.

The loss to Toronto marked Cleveland’s fourth defeat at the hands of an Eastern Conference opponent this season — all of them coming on the road — and left the Cavs’ vocal leaders questioning the team’s mental toughness, something that has been a bit of a recurring theme so far this year.

Cleveland was outscored 31-16 from 3:46 remaining in the third quarter until 2:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, as Toronto ran away with the game.

“It’s all mindset,” James said after the game, still visibly frustrated. “It comes from within. I’ve always had it; my upbringing had me like that. It’s either you got it or you don’t.”

Cavs coach David Blatt absolved his team of any fault after the game, citing the fact that the Cavs were missing four key rotation players in Kyrie Irving (left knee), Iman Shumpert (right wrist), Timofey Mozgov (right shoulder) and Matthew Dellavedova (left calf).

“I thought that we got tired for obvious reasons. Very short-handed. Thought our guys played hard and I thought we ran out of gas,” Blatt said. “I thought fatigue played a big part of that, I really did.”

James, however, rejected his coach’s softer stance.

When asked whether fatigue was a factor, James said, “No. It’s not an excuse.” When another reporter asked whether injuries were to blame, James repeated, “It’s not an excuse.”

With the conference improving around them, James and Jones, who already have delivered halftime speeches this season to turn around stagnant team efforts, are trying to instill a sense of urgency in the group.

“It’s indicative of how we’ve been playing all year,” Jones told ESPN.com. “We haven’t been consistent. We haven’t been playing to the level of physicality and with the sense of urgency that we need to, that we set out to maintain.”

“For us, the season is about getting better,” Jones said. “It’s way too early in the season for us to even think that we’ve done anything or we’ve reached a level where we can’t continue to improve. So, we’re solid right now, but we have to get better. We’re not a team that’s chasing mediocrity. Being ‘solid’ isn’t good enough.”

And here’s Haynes’ report on the mood in the locker room after the loss to Toronto:

As soon as you entered the room, the mood was tense. There was a somber feeling of a squad that had just lost a playoff game. Players were visibly frustrated and shocked. Tristan Thompson’s head was tilted downward, as if he were ashamed of himself.

“It’s up to the bigs,” he said to cleveland.com. “We’re playing too soft. Not tough enough. We have to step up.”

This would be the theme of the evening.

Kevin Love and Mo Williams were sitting at their locker stalls quiet, with puzzled expressions glued to their faces. LeBron James emerged from the shower with a nasty snarl. The reverberations of an unacceptable outcome was everywhere.

Before the media was granted postgame locker room access, the players addressed a lack of toughness, heart and defensive awareness displayed in the fourth quarter Wednesday. James and James Jones demanded more.

“It wasn’t a team meeting. It’s just another game,” Mo Williams said of the postgame team chat. “When you lose games, we just discuss things we could have done better and we need to do going forward. That was basically it.”

After James addressed the media, he walked over to Jones, Kevin Love, Williams and J.R. Smith and began breaking down their defensive shortcomings very animatedly. He wasn’t quiet about it. He was trying to get a message across. Jones subsequently joined in agreement. It soon became a group discussion in the middle of the locker room.

Bismack Biyombo‘s name was mentioned. He came up with six boards and six points in the final quarter. He had two uncontested dunks in the final minute and a half that eliminated any chance of the Cavaliers making a comeback. Toronto had six “and-1s” in the quarter.

Cleveland didn’t intimidate Toronto at all. When asked, Bismack didn’t mince words about their roughhouse nature.

“The most important thing is that we played tough,” Bismack told cleveland.com. “Cleveland is a good team, but when they come in here, they feel like we are the tough ones and that’s what we want to accomplish as the definition of the Toronto Raptors.”

 

While players-only meetings haven’t been a harbinger of great things at other outposts this season (see: Sacramento and Houston), those were held in NBA cities where the squads are more or less failing to meet expectations. How the Cavs take this heart-to-heart talk may very well shape how their performance goes on the road (and beyond) as the rest of the 2015-16 season unfurls.

28 Comments

  1. Will says:

    All these recent antics of Lebron show weakness(Players only meting and your in first place never heard of that if I was J Kidd and wanna spit in Lebron’s face,cancelling player intro’s,raptors dancers still preforming and the cavs starting 5 standing like pigeons and lose the game) Warriors are in Lebron’s head living rent free.

  2. Apolo says:

    Big Baby Bron is at it again. He can’t compete on the big stage without other superstars by his side. He was cramping badly in the finals against SA. They put their top defender on him and he disappeared. If it wasn’t for Allen, Wade, Bosh and Battier, the king would have no titles. I hope he shuts the heck up and plays the game. He needs a wake up call. Bron man up…

  3. Ty says:

    Lebron needs to chill and just play ball all this older guy/GM /boss stuff is getting tired!

  4. Ty says:

    Why does Lebron do this? We all know its better to keep issues “inhouse” but since Lebron has become the leader of the “young cavs” he acts like hes such a vet, during interviews hes so serious, he sees what others need to be successful, hes putting out family issues in the media trying to motivatee his team, and the one thing that is really wrong with the Cavs is him, hes not playing loose and having fun, also the ball usually stops when the ball is in his hands like he doesnt trust his teammates…this is whats killing the talented Cavs but hes too selfish to realize, its all about what he wants and desires and not really about the team cause he feels like he need to show them how to crawl,walk and talk for them to be successful…just have fun and let the love of the game come back cause since u been back it seems you have went into instructor mode more than any other time in your career. Stop critiquing your team in public and just play ball!!

  5. Emilyn says:

    its okay lebron my babe i know you guys will win all the way if not then its okay, everything has its own purpose and thats what basketball all about.i trust in you cavaliers no matter what..

  6. sanjay says:

    the cavs did not defend well at all. tristian is just a rebounder and nothing more. He has to improve. Get 10 points and 10 rebounds minimum.

    they could have got a better guy for that dough! there is no penetration without delladova. they all shot poorly in the fourth quarter.
    cavs also need to look at kaun. He could be handy when tristian is struggling.
    andy still needs half the season to get stronger!

  7. yeah Lebron really soaks up the media for attention and motivation, it’s getting a little nauseating.

  8. NBA fan says:

    Focus on your defense LeBron, you should lead by example. Be a lock down defender and make em miserable every player on your front. Be a defensive player of the year and your team will follow. You are so good on criticizing your team mate but you are the leader and you are the one who don’t show discipline in defensive end. Walk the talk. If you can win this year’s defensive player of the year then you have the upper hand to win the championship this year.

  9. Facefacts says:

    Over-rated and over-paid the cavs are. I think they will struggle as long as LBJ is playing the GM/head coach roll.

  10. Face the facts says:

    That whole team is over-paid and over-rated. LBJ is a player, not the GM. I think they will struggle as long as LBJ is calling the shots.

  11. Aristotle says:

    If you’re going to be a tool, and act like you’re ready for tip off, when there’s still a dance routine for the dancers to go through, you deserve to lose. All this is doing is showing up the team, and has nothing to do with winning ways.
    Add this gem to him walking off, or him not helping Love back up, and you’re wondering why the team isn’t responding? I love LeBron James, think he’s a great player, brought the team I support two championships, but his desperation to win a title in Cleveland, is only getting the worst out of his teammates with such antics. If I was his teammate, I’d be thinking to myself “You tosser…”

  12. Spoiled vino says:

    @E

    Lebron just learning from the best, that 1-14 guy that thinks he could get 80 and still doesn’t matter.

  13. stanislavnba says:

    i dont get what the fuzz is about. they are missing 3 starters , Dilevadova and also Mo was injured last game. TT doesnt play as good when he starts, he is an awesome energy guy but he cant give you that production for 40min. The team looked really tired in the 4th. Which is normal when you are missing 4 key pieces.

  14. glendale73 says:

    It’s wise to push your team to compete (even though you’re short-handed) to get better. It’s an opportunity for your bench players to step up. The Spurs do this intentionally even when their starters are healthy. They try to inject their bench players more to develop their roles and be a more solid second unit to build up or maintain the lead that their starters worked on. To me, what matters most is to get better and maintain a roster that’s 100% healthy entering the playoffs. Yes, the Warriors are going to be breaking more records this year but my worry for them is that this record-chasing thing might bite them back later in the season with health issues. Teams are coming at them with playoff-type intensity each and every game and we’re not even past the first quarter of the season. To me that’s a bad thing because it’s a fact that the likelihood of players getting injured goes up come playoff time. It’s better to be 50-22 with all of your starters healthy than 73-9 and you’re missing one or 2 of your integral pieces in your playoff rotation.

    • Hey yo says:

      50-22? I guess they dont have to play the last 10 games. The Warriors are blowing teams out. Injuries are unpredictable no matter how many wins they end up with.

  15. glendale73 says:

    It’s wise to push your team to compete (even though you’re short-handed) to get better. It’s an opportunity for your bench players to step up. The Spurs do this intentionally even when their starters are healthy. They try to inject their bench players more to develop their roles and be a more solid second unit to build up or maintain the lead that their starters worked on. To me, what matters most is to get better and maintain a roster that’s 100% healthy entering the playoffs. Yes, the Warriors are going to be breaking more records this year but my worry for them is that this record-chasing thing might bite them back later in the season with health issues. Teams are coming at them with playoff-type intensity each and every game and we’re not even past the first quarter of the season. To me that’s a bad thing because it’s a fact that the likelihood of players getting injured goes up come playoff time. It’s better to be 50-22 with all of your starters healthy than 73-9 and you’re missing one or 2 of your integral pieces in your playoff rotation.

  16. Disgusted says:

    dontbelievethehype, you are a complete idiot.

  17. Lebron James is one of the greatest players in the NBA, maybe the top 5 ever. But I’m just not sold on his Cadavaliers. And I’m not sorry to admit it.

  18. stevenadamsfan says:

    thx lebron without you many would have nowhere to vent

  19. Ken Oxley says:

    In all this, no one seems to give credit for whether Toronto played a sound game. Cleveland came in with the view that they should win and move on and probably approached the game in a cavalier fashion (pun intentional). At least Toronto had a plan and worked to it more often than not. The same cannot be said for Cleveland. Lebron is right to question the team spirit but how it was done leaves a lot to be desired..

  20. E says:

    I understand what you’re saying Lebron, but you were 6-16 from the field. You should also take the blame as much as everybody else

  21. D says:

    I’m a big LeBron fan.. but him continuously talking and using the media to motivate your team obviously isn’t working. Work on your game, get your injured players back, focus on the positives of the game and then key on the negatives in private… One of the things that I respected the most is how composed and mature LeBron is, but this season he is showing the complete opposite

  22. dontbelievethehype says:

    Nothing new here, the nba’s biggest whiner still finds a way to get attention. The Cavs understand they are are the big fish in the small eastern pond, but they also know they are not good enough to compete with whichever team comes out of the West. Most likely it will be the Warriors who already spanked them last season. The self proclaimed king is taking his usual stance of me, me, me, and trying to find blame on anyone but himself. He should start by admitting that he just doesn’t have what it takes to make his team mates better and be a great leader. It doesn’t matter how many more all stars you put around him, the Cavs may make it out of the East but have no chance of beating the West.

    • Ian says:

      Spanked??? Barely beat a team that was missing key players more like it. I’m not a Lebron fan but he almost beat the entire warriors team on his own.

    • stanislavnba says:

      You dont watch NBA much do you. East is bigger and better than the West this season. So far a lot better.

    • MavsCavs says:

      Kyrie though.

      • Cavs Fan says:

        All I can say is Lebron if you’re listening….Lead by Example…want the team to defend, You Defend…..want the team to score, You Score…..want the team to take a charge, You take a Charge! They will respond!!! Oh, and Never ever Throw them under the Bus In Public PERIOD! If You become a Good Leader..You’ll have a Good Team…..If You Become a GREAT Leader…You’ll have a GREAT Team!