The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 13-game winning streak against Western
Conference opponents is over.
One night after seeing it snapped, they must pay a visit to the
club that dealt them the final loss before that streak.
LeBron James looks to help the Cavs shake off the memory of both
their latest loss and an ugly performance from last season when
they face the Houston Rockets on Wednesday to conclude a three-game
Cleveland (15-6) won its final eight games against the West last
regular season and captured its first five interconference meetings
in 2009-10 by an average of 12.0 points before heading to Memphis
Leading by 11 at halftime, the Cavaliers appeared on their way
to another convincing win. Instead, the Grizzlies came back to win
111-109 in overtime despite a season-high 43 points, 13 rebounds
and six assists from James.
James also had five of Cleveland’s 21 turnovers.
“They got up into us defensively,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown
said. “When they did that, we had some bad turnovers that gave them
easy dunks in transition.”
James, who ranks sixth in the league with 8.2 assists per game,
had become even more of a distributor during Cleveland’s four-game
overall win streak prior to visiting Memphis, recording double
digit assists in four straight games for the first time in his
Another first for James – one that he and the Cavaliers would
love to forget – came Feb. 26 in Houston. The Rockets (11-9) held
James to 21 points, one rebound and his first career zero-assist
game in a 93-74 victory.
“I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have an assist, but as
a team, we didn’t move the ball at all,” James said.
The Cavaliers’ 10 team assists were their fewest since being
held to seven in a 94-76 loss at Portland on Jan. 17, 2007.
Houston has been an unpleasant place for James and the Cavs.
Cleveland has averaged 71.3 points while losing three straight in
Houston by an average of 17.4 points, and shot 28.2 percent in an
81-63 loss there Dec. 2, 2006 – flirting with the team record for
fewest points (59) in a game.
James is a 37.1 percent career shooter in six games in Houston.
Only his 22.2-point average versus the Los Angeles Clippers is
lower than his 23.1 against the Rockets.
“You try to make him a jump shooter if you can,” Houston coach
Rick Adelman said Monday.
This is the Rockets’ lone home game in a stretch of six of seven
on the road. They’d won the first three before losing 90-89 at
Portland on Saturday. Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy scored his
team’s final 10 points down the stretch.
Point guard Aaron Brooks struggled in the loss, scoring a
season-low six points. Brooks is averaging only 4.8 points per game
and shooting 25.0 percent in four career games against
Shane Battier figures to draw the bulk of the work defending
James, but a few points from Houston’s small forward could pay
dividends. The Rockets are 6-3 when Battier – averaging 8.4 points
– scores nine or more.