CLEVELAND -- Sometimes, even the best have an off night, and that is exactly what happened with Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James against the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Quicken Loans Arena Sunday night.
James scored just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting, including an 0-for-4 showing from three-point range, in the Cavaliers’ 111-108 loss to the Celtics, their first setback in 11 outings during the first three rounds of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
“I had a tough game, period,” James said. “Not just in the second half. Me personally, I didn't have it. My teammates did a great job of keeping us in the game, building that lead, but me personally, I didn't have it. That's all I've got to say about my performance.
“I was just pretty poor. I mean, what do you want me to say?”
In addition to making just four of his 13 looks and three of his six attempts from the free-throw line, James pulled down only six rebounds and handed out six assists. Normally fundamentally sound, James committed six turnovers, stole only one pass and blocked just one shot.
“I mean, he's human, so he's going to have a night like this,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “He didn't shoot the ball well, and we still had a 20-point lead. A game we should have won, but they played hard. They scrapped. They have a scrappy team. We knew that coming in. We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we got some things we can correct and come back ready to go on Tuesday.”
All five of the Cavaliers’ starters scored in double figures, led by point guard Kyrie Irving (29 points) and power forward Kevin Love (28), who added 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
Center Tristan Thompson finished off a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Known for his efforts on defense and rebounding, Thompson went 12 of 15 from the free-throw line and three of four from the field.
Shooting guard J.R. Smith sunk four of his eight looks from three-point range and scored 13 points in the losing effort.
And despite those totals, Thompson believes James’ teammates need to step up their games to better help the Cavaliers.
“They threw different looks at him, but we've got to get better as teammates,” Thompson said. “We've got to pick it up and play better, but it wasn't about the scoring. We scored enough points to win the ballgame.
“It was defensively. It doesn't matter what Bron's numbers were. Defensively, we've got to be better. It starts with multiple efforts, taking the challenge one-on-one and making those adjustments and just playing harder.”