James and Cavaliers struggle to find winning formula

Sat Nov 22, 2014 4:25pm EST
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - The return of the prodigal son to Cleveland is undergoing growing pains as LeBron James and the Cavaliers struggle to fulfill lofty National Basketball Association expectations.

Despite being crowned favorites to win the NBA title by Las Vegas oddsmakers after James announced his return to Cleveland in July, the Cavs slipped to 5-6 after their third loss in a row in falling to the Washington Wizards on Friday.

The season is young, but there is clearly work to be done to turn James, new Cavalier Kevin Love and guard Kyrie Irving into a force under rookie NBA coach David Blatt.

"No one feels sorry for us," four-time league most valuable player James told reporters after scoring 22 points in the 91-78 loss. "We have to figure out what needs to be done to win."

The points total was the lowest of the season for the lackluster Cavs, who shot 36 percent, committed 19 turnovers and seemed to be moving in a lower gear than their hosts.

"I'm concerned about everything right now," coach Blatt said.

"This is the same team that a week ago, 10 days ago, was scoring 120 points a game," Blatt said. "We're not a different group of people, and we're not a different team, but we're just playing in the dark right now."

Washington center Marcin Gortat was equally blunt. “They were just sloppy,” he told the Washington Post. "You realized that they don’t feel comfortable doing what they were doing.”   Continued...

Nov 21, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) dribbles the ball as Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) defends in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 91-78. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports