CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers love to shoot three-pointers, and they have gotten pretty good at it in the two-plus years since LeBron James’ return to the franchise after a four-season run with the Miami Heat.
But three-point shooting proved to be a struggle as the Cavaliers sunk just 11 of their 42 looks from beyond the arc in a 110-106 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Quicken Loans Arena Tuesday night, their first setback of the 2016-2017 season.
“It’s our game,” James said. “It’s what we do. We do have to mix it up at times. I’m not one to shoot many threes. I took a few at some pretty good looks. We get some pretty good looks, especially the one by our bench when we’re down by four and Ky gets a wide open look. Channing had some really good looks. J.R. had some great looks.
“We’re a team that when the ball is moving and you’re the recipient of it, you have to let it go. We don’t ever want to second-guess ourselves. We got to the line 25 times as well. You don’t want to have more threes than free throws, but for our team, sometimes it happens that way and that’s okay.”
Although the Cavaliers shot 42 of their 99 attempts from three-point range in the loss to the Hawks, it was not because they forced the long-distance looks.
With just six turnovers in the game, the Cavaliers were able to drive and kick against the Hawks. That led to not only the 42 three-point attempts, but also, 25 trips to the free-throw line. However, the Cavaliers allowed the Hawks to shoot 50.6 percent from the field, 37.9 percent from three-point range and get 24 attempts from the free-throw line.
“We did a great job of not turning the ball over,” James said. “That means we were getting guys in position. We were moving the ball. The ball just didn’t go in, and sometimes, it happens that way. Defensively, we have to do a better job of containing our guys at the point of attack and waiting for help after that.”
For the Cavaliers to overcome a tough shooting night, James believes such a change starts on the defensive end, which allowed them to get back into the game when they trimmed the Atlanta lead down to five heading into the fourth quarter.
“It was a weird game, but we’ve got to do a better job defensively when our offense is not going or we’re not shooting the ball like we’re capable of doing,” James said. “We’ve got to do a better job of playing one-on-one defense, containing guys and containing teams. Give that team a lot of credit. They played a heck of a game.”