James has fans atwitter; Cavs top Denver 124-91 for division
CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James gladly talked about another triple-double, another division championship and a resounding win - No. 50 this season for the Cavaliers.
His social media habits, though, were off limits.
James scored 33 points and recorded his 41st career triple-double night as Cleveland clinched its second straight Central Division title with a 124-91 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.
James added 11 rebounds and 11 assists before checking out to a thunderous ovation from another sellout crowd at Quicken Loans Arena. He scored 17 in the first quarter, helping the Cavs build a 19-point lead following an embarrassing loss on Saturday night in Miami.
''It was in the back of our minds, for sure,'' James said of the 122-101 drubbing against his former team. ''You just can't erase a performance like that. No matter if it was our fifth game in seven nights, we just didn't bring it the way we should and tonight we responded very well.''
But as James was piling up the statistics, the Internet was abuzz with reports that he had apparently unfollowed the Cavs' Twitter account earlier in the day. It was the latest off-the-court chatter surrounding James, who has posted mysterious messages in the past - and declined to speak with the media following the team's morning shootaround.
Asked if it was true he dropped (at)Cavs, James said, ''Next question.''
He was then asked if he and his teammates can carry this performance over.
''My mind,'' he said, shaking his head. ''I'm done.''
J.R. Smith added 15 points and Channing Frye 14 for Cleveland, which played without starter Kevin Love (illness).
Will Barton scored 27 for the Nuggets, who concluded a 1-4 road trip. Denver's Kenneth Faried missed his third straight game with a sore lower back.
Although his team battled back and briefly took the lead in the first half, Nuggets coach Mike Malone was disgusted with its second-half effort.
''It was embarrassing,'' Malone said. ''An embarrassing effort. A very good team, obviously, a team that went to the finals, but I thought in the second half we quit. I haven't seen that from our team most of the year. I'm very disappointed with that. I did not like our effort, out focus, our intensity and our fight for 48 minutes.''
The Cavs were playing for the first time since being battered by the Heat, who led by 33 in the fourth. It was a humiliating night for James, who sat out the final 12 minutes against his former team, and the loss raised more questions about Cleveland's chemistry and chances of returning to the NBA Finals.
James got the Cavs back on track and to 50 wins, a milestone he doesn't take lightly.
''Along the journey you never want to take things for granted and accomplishments that happen along the way,'' he said. ''You've got to take it in. It's not given every year, obviously, that you can win a division title, win 50 games in a league where it's so hard to win. I've been fortunate to do it a few times so it's a great thing for our franchise and a great thing for our guys here and it's something that you can always talk about when you're done playing ball. It's a pretty cool thing.''
MO TO GO
Cavaliers guard Mo Williams has been cleared to practice after missing nearly a month with an injured left knee. Williams, who has not played since Feb. 24, has been bothered by soreness in his knee for most of the season. He took part in Monday's shootaround and could play in games later this week.
FRYE'S THE GUY
Frye, who started in place of Love, continues to have a more prominent role.
''We have to continue to use him,'' Lue said. ''We have a great roster, we have great bigs. Every night, he's going to play. Depending on how the flow of the game goes, he'll play more minutes.''
Nuggets: F JaKarr Sampson strained his left shoulder in the first half and didn't return. ... Malone spent five seasons as an assistant with the Cavaliers. He said Cleveland's run to the 2007 finals, which included James' epic performance in Game 5 of the conference semifinals at Detroit - he scored 28 of the Cavs' final 30 points - is his fondest memory. ''One of the best performances by a player in postseason history,'' Malone said.
Cavaliers: The Cavs are 4-0 without Love, who has an unspecified illness. ... Cleveland has won at least 50 games nine times. ... James has scored 20 points or more in 16 straight games against Denver. ... The Cavs also won division titles in 1975-76, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2014-15.
Nuggets: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Cavaliers: Host Milwaukee on Wednesday.