Several members of the Cleveland Cavaliers got the okay to stop off in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday before traveling to Philadelphia to play the 76ers for good reason. With LeBron James being a die-hard Ohio State Buckeyes fan, he finally got to see them play against the Michigan Wolverines – the biggest rivalry in college football – in person with a handful of his teammates.
Even though they all left the game early, their detour probably played a role in the Cavaliers struggling to put one of the worst teams in the NBA away until the final minutes of the fourth quarter on Sunday afternoon. James was spectacular as always, recording the 45th triple-double of his career with 26 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, but not everyone on the Cavaliers played up to their usual standard.
J.R. Smith, for example, finished the game with zero points on 0-11 shooting from the floor. He put together that stat line in 38 minutes on the floor, thereby putting him in a class of his own when it comes to historically awful scoreless games. He has now made one of his last 22 shot attempts thanks to a 1-for-11 performance against the Mavericks on Friday, but even that doesn’t have the Cavaliers panicking…yet.
“Keep shooting. I mean, that’s what he does,” head coach Tyronn Lue told Cleveland.com. “He makes shots and as a shooter you’re not going to make every shot. Right now he’s in a little bit of a slump, but tonight defensively he was great.”
Beyond playing tough defense, Smith also helped out his teammates by wiping blood from Kevin Love’s face during a break in the action in the first quarter. Plus, Sunday matinee games have never been his forte. Blame a heavy Thanksgiving meal for his dismal showing against the Mavericks and it all starts to make sense.