Cavs’ Bickerstaff on James: ‘There is a reason why he is who he is’

For the Cavs(8-9), defeating the world champion Los Angeles Lakers(14-4) is a tall order, but defeating the Lakers when LeBron James scores 21 points in a quarter is nearly impossible. 

James returned to Cleveland on Monday night and went off. In 38 minutes, James was 19/26 from the field, including 7/11 from three-point range, and finished with 46 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. The four-time MVP scored 21 of his 46 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers moved to 10-0 on the road with a 115-108 victory over Cleveland. 

At 36, James became the fifth player 36 or older to score 46 points or more in an NBA game.

“You take your hat off to him,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about James. “There is a reason why he is who he is, and he accomplished all the things that he’s accomplished. If he’s making shots like that, you pat him on the butt. You try to do more the next time and force him to take an even more difficult shot. When a guy is doing what he did tonight, he’s hard to deal with.”

Andre Drummond led the way for Cleveland with a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds.

After getting blown out in Boston on Sunday, Bickerstaff wanted a better effort from the Cavaliers on Monday, and he got it. Cleveland was right there with the Lakers all night long and led by two heading into the fourth quarter.

“I think they responded the right way,” he said. “This game was not lost by our effort. It was not lost by our scrap. They gave us what they had tonight. They competed. They played together; they competed together. That’s not where this game was lost tonight.”

Bickerstaff was not happy with the officiating, and he felt the officials did not give his team the same respect they gave the Lakers. Los Angeles shot 12 more free throws than Cleveland on Monday night. 

“I think it was some momentum-changing calls that were made or weren’t made,” he said. “I think our guys showed up and gave the effort to deserve the respect that both teams should garner, and tonight, I don’t think that was the case. The Lakers are a hell of a basketball team, don’t get me wrong. They deserve everything they have coming, but our guys scrap and play hard and deserve the same.

“Were there plays that we made down the stretch where we could’ve made better decisions, sure. When you’re in a position where your playing uphill, you have to be even better and be even more certain with your decisions, your shot selection, your defensive execution, so we could’ve been better there as well, but it’s hard to overcome the champs-plus.”

The Cavaliers went 2-2 in this four-game stretch against the Nets(2x), Celtics, and Lakers. Going 2-2 is a win for this team, and outside of the Boston game, they played some pretty good basketball, which is progress. Now, they prepare the Pistons on Wednesday night.

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