Cavs have much work to do: James

AUBURN HILLS (Michigan) • Just 11 games into the National Basketball season, LeBron James feels his team-mates need to get tougher.

"We're too relaxed, too nice," the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar forward said after his team fell apart late, beaten 104-99 by the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. "Just too nice."

Detroit centre Andre Drummond had 25 points and 18 rebounds as the Pistons rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit at The Palace to hand the Cavaliers their second straight loss.

James said his team must stop resting on their laurels and start preparing for games with a better sense of purpose.

"You can't play down to the competition at this point," said James, who scored a game-high 30 points and passed Jerry West on the all-time scoring list. "We're not better than (anyone) in the league. We've got so much work to do at this point."

James reached the scoring milestone on a three-pointer with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter. He needed 10 points to pass the Los Angeles Lakers legend for 19th place on the all-time scoring list. West finished his career with 25,192 points.

While the Cavs felt they let one slip, the Pistons were just glad to break a four-game losing streak.

Drummond contributed 10 fourth-quarter points but point guard Reggie Jackson was the difference down the stretch.

He supplied 23 points, including six free throws in the final minute, along with 12 assists. He also switched onto James on a few late possessions. James committed two turnovers and misfired on a five-foot shot in the final 1:08.

"Our guys did a pretty good job of staying in front of him," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He missed the shots he made in the first half. You've seen him long enough. He can get those same shots and make all three."

Van Gundy credited Jackson for sparking the comeback, as Detroit finished the game on a 14-4 run.

"That's probably the best game he's played since he's been in Detroit in terms of his energy and mixing his scoring and his passes," the coach said. "You just couldn't have a much better game than he did tonight."

Power forward Ersan Ilyasova added 20 points and six rebounds and Marcus Morris chipped in with 14 points for Detroit.

Cleveland power forward Kevin Love had 19 points and nine rebounds while guards J.R. Smith and Mo Williams tossed in 15 points apiece.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2015, with the headline 'Cavs have much work to do: James'. Print Edition | Subscribe