Fatigue may be starting to set in for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The team is in the midst of a grueling stretch, and coach Tyronn Lue has said he'll try to find rest for some players as the Cavaliers play the first of three games in four days Wednesday night against the visiting Dallas Mavericks.
Cleveland (47-19) is coming off a back-to-back to end a four-game swing out West. It rolled to a 114-90 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday before failing to complete a perfect trip with a 94-85 loss to Utah the next night.
Article continues below ...
“I thought just coming into it I felt we lost our legs, just try to keep motivating them, keep them going, keep them encouraged,” said Lue, whose club visits Orlando on Friday and Miami on Saturday. “I just thought we just couldn't get that pace up.”
It was the Cavaliers' lowest-scoring performance and worst shooting night (39.8 percent) since a 96-83 loss to Chicago on Jan. 23.
“I don't think it's a step back,” said LeBron James, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds. “We still have an opportunity to get better in our next game.”
James was 10 of 20 from the field while fellow starters Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith combined to shoot 28.3 percent (13 of 46). Cleveland took 42 3-pointers and hit just 10.
“We had our chance,” James said. “We definitely settled for the outside shot too much tonight and didn't get into the paint.”
The Cavaliers set a franchise record with 44 attempts from beyond the arc in the first meeting with Dallas (34-33) on Jan. 12. They converted 17 of those en route to a 110-107 overtime win behind 27 points from James and 22 from Irving.
Cleveland is among the NBA leaders with a 35.8 percentage on 3s, while the Mavericks rank in the top 10 in 3-point field-goal defense at 33.8.
Dallas ended a season-high five-game losing streak with a 107-96 win at Charlotte on Monday. The Mavericks snapped the Hornets' season-best seven-game run by using a smaller lineup, with guard Raymond Felton starting in place of center Zaza Pachulia.
“We just had really good energy, focus, togetherness,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We were playing relatively small, so we needed everybody to be very vigilant about being on the boards. That's our best chance to win and we did that tonight.”
Chandler Parsons had 24 points and nine rebounds and Dirk Nowitzki added 23 and 11 to lead five Mavericks in double-figure scoring.
“We're playing for our playoff life,” said Parsons, who scored 25 in the first matchup with the Cavaliers. “We'll keep working and try to build from this.”
That's something Cleveland center Tristan Thompson is expecting Wednesday.
“These teams are going to give you everything they've got,” Thompson said. “Dallas is in eighth right now, the Jazz are in ninth or whatever, they're all fighting each other to move up a spot so it's definitely kind of a playoff feel. … But it's like that every night. We're the Cavaliers. We're going to get every team's best shot.”
Dallas has held the Cavaliers to 94.0 points and 39.5 percent shooting while averaging 104.7 and 51.1 percent from the field in winning its last three visits to Cleveland.