LeBron James Has Apparently Given Up On Playing Defense

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

One must travel back in time almost two months, to December 14, to find the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ last win on national television, and it came against the lowly Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James‘ squad has played eight nationally televised games since, all defeats. Of those eight, only one came by fewer than 10 points. Among the rest are losses of 34, 24, and 32 points.

“I’m lost for words, actually,” LeBron said of Cleveland’s national TV skid following a Saturday 120-88 loss to the Houston Rockets. “They should take us off every nationally televised game for the rest of the season. We haven’t played good ball and we get our butts kicked every time we play on national television, so I’m at a loss for words.”

The main culprit for the Cavs’ recent rough stretch, which includes just seven victories in their last 20 games overall: The team’s horrendous defense. They’ve been in the bottom three in the NBA in defensive rating for almost the entire season, giving up a whopping 109.4 points per possession, according to NBA.com.

And one doesn’t need to look further than Cleveland’s biggest star to see why they’re so miserable on that end of the floor.

Perhaps the most embarrassing of their nationally televised losses: a 125-114 defeat to the Detroit Pistons on January 30. Not just any Pistons, but the Pistons following their trade for Blake Griffin, but before Griffin’s arrival; so, a wildly shorthanded version of one of the league’s worst offensive teams.

LeBron set the tone for the Cavs, who are now 30-21 and 5.5 games out of the East’s No. 2 seed, with his effort.

LeBron’s defense wouldn’t get better in their next game on national TV, on Saturday.

The Cavs surrender 111.3 points per 100 possessions while LeBron is on the court, and give up just 103 when he’s off, which would be good for third-best in the NBA.

Maybe LeBron should abandon his search for words to describe the Cavaliers’ play, and instead focus more on searching for his man and actually getting in his way