LeBron James refused to "throw his team-mates under the bus" after the Cleveland Cavaliers squandered a huge half-time lead to fall 2-1 down against the Indiana Pacers. The Cavs led 57-40 after the second quarter of Friday's playoff clash but could not see out the win, slipping to a 92-90 defeat on the road.
James racked up a team-high 28 points on the night but that was not enough as the Pacers – inspired by Bojan Bogdanovic – came surging back to move ahead in the seven-game series. But the three-time NBA champion was in no mood to point the finger of blame, instead criticising his own performance in the latter stages of the ballgame.
Room for improvement
"What are you guys looking for? You guys think I'm going to throw my team-mates under the bus? Is that what [you want?]," he asked reporters at his post-match media conference. "I'm not about that. Guys just got to play better, including myself. I had six turnovers tonight, I was horrible in the third quarter, couldn't make a shot. If I make some better plays in the third quarter then the lead doesn't slip. We know we all got to play better as a collective group."
Despite falling behind in the series, James remains confident the Cavs can come through the first round in the Eastern Conference. "There's a lot of game to be played," he said. "We haven't played as well as we would like to play as a team in this series so far – even with the game two victory. So we have to regroup and try to figure out how we can be better in game four. When it was a tied ballgame with less than five minutes to go we had an opportunity to still win, so you know, we can make some shots and execute a little better down the stretch then it could be a different narrative. But another loss for us on the road and [we've] just got to be better."
When asked if Sunday's match is now a must-win, James added: "It's the postseason, I think every game is a must win. "I mean, you want to come in, and you want to play well, you want to win no matter what, no matter if you've got home court advantage or you're starting off on the road. I think that's the mindset that you have to have and you don't win every game obviously, but you come in with the mindset that every game is a must win. You try to play with that type of urgency. Today I felt like it was a must win, we didn't win, and it's the same on Sunday, it's the same mindset."