CLEVELAND – LeBron James had already been crowned the so-called King of New York after beating the Knicks. And on Wednesday night, King James ruled over the Nets – and the fourth quarter.
The Nets had already beaten the Cavaliers earlier this season at the Barclays Center. James made sure he did not happen again at Quicken Loans Arena. He took charge of the late and sweaty moments of the game, leading his team alone to a home win 119-109.
With the score tied at 99 – all with less than five minutes left, James scored 18 of his game – 33 points when Cleveland closed with a 20-10 run.
Even with Trevor Booker injured, the Nets, who dropped to 6-11, ran a series of corps in James, from DeMarre Carroll to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (team -high 20 points) to Joe Harris. And the Cavs star, even briefly went to the locker room with a cut above the lip.
But then he came back and cut the Nets.
The Nets, who led until seven at the end of the third quarter, stayed behind in the fourth before equaling 99 in a Harris driving layup (18 points). But Kevin Love gave Cleveland the lead with a free kick, and James hit two, then recovered a foul and scored on a rebound to give the Cavs a 104-99 lead.
James went on to take advantage of the game, scoring all but two of Cleveland's points in a 20-10 run to close the game and the Nets.
Cleveland improved to 11-7.
The Nets have had the bad habit of staying behind early and giving away games. They were delayed again, but the truth is that they did not lose this early. They took him late.
The Nets lost 16-7 after James' triple with 5:14 left in the first quarter. But they recovered to take a 46-45 lead at halftime.
After the Hollis-Jefferson driving tray and the Carroll floating shot they led by five.
The Nets advanced seven times in the third quarter. Jarrett Allen's corner jumper pushed him to 71-64, and Quincy Acy hit a corner 3 to give Brooklyn a 76-69 lead, but they could not hold on.
Cleveland mounted a 14-3 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. Dwyane Wade interspersed baskets around a pair of free throws by Kyle Korver, his inverted layup put the Cavaliers ahead 83-79 with 10:03 to play.
"I just hope we can improve things a bit better on the defensive – that was the focus [Tuesday] on film and practice," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said in advance. "Start with the transition defense … We're not doing the first part of the transition defense, I'm starting to get angry while I'm talking about that, we're not doing a good job matching, we just have to do a better job."
It took just 4:45 to see the Celtics with a 17-4 lead before taking an advantage in the third quarter and losing by seven. It was worse against the Warriors, the Nets fell in a hole of 28 points before cutting it to four, but they ran out of time. They did it again against James, a closer who needed to take a big advantage against it to hold on.
"I told our guys [Tuesday] that the consistency is not there, you do not know which one we will receive, and that affects me a bit, getting them to be more locked into that mentality more consistently," Atkinson said. "I went with them pretty hard to see how they reacted.
Maybe as a team we have to kick, stomp, scream and scream a lot. [I’m] We're still trying to discover the psychology of our team.
" But it's hard Do that in 82 games, so choose our points. … I think they know the staff's level of concern that we were not close enough. We were overwhelmed by Golden State. They are the best, but I do not think that at this level is an excuse. You have played a great game in your life; we should have lived up to the defensive challenge. "