Cavs fall amid James controversy

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers shooting against the Brooklyn Nets during their game on March 24, 2016.
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers shooting against the Brooklyn Nets during their game on March 24, 2016. PHOTO: AFP/ GETTY IMAGES

NEW YORK • A small storm began brewing this week in Cleveland.

The effects were expected to linger until today, when the Cavaliers play the Knicks in a National Basketball Association league game.

El Nino? Not quite.

Just the annual downpour of scrutiny and rumours swirling around LeBron James as his ability to opt out of his contract approaches this summer.

On Thursday at Barclays Centre, where the Cavaliers fell to the Brooklyn Nets, 95-104, he played down the criticism he has recently faced, which include unfollowing the Cavaliers' Twitter account.

"I love leading these guys," he said of the Cavaliers. "I really don't get caught up in everything else."

He also acknowledged that the Cavaliers needed to get more "locked down" as the play-offs neared.

On Thursday, after three quarters, the Cavaliers led 83-80, with 30 points from James. But he was held scoreless during the fourth quarter, and Cleveland were outscored over the final 12 minutes.

After the game, James said: "That's everything."

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said this week that he did not like James' actions but the player had apologised.

"I laugh about it all the time," said team-mate J.R. Smith, when asked about the recent ire against James.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'Cavs fall amid James controversy'. Print Edition | Subscribe