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LeBron James says Cavs lack toughness after loss to nuggets

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Last night (Wednesday), the NBA’s defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers were in The Mile High City for a matchup against the Denver Nuggets, which resulted in a 126-113 runaway victory for the home team.

The Cavs allowed the Nuggets to rack up 70 points in the paint last night. Making things worse, the Cavs were out-rebounded, 44-38. LeBron James, who recorded 18 points, six rebounds, and five assists in the loss, was not happy with his team’s toughness on the defensive end of the floor.

Via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

“It ain’t about a group. It’s about individuals,” James said in a post-loss locker room. “We’ve got to be more, just do more. It ain’t about no group. You can’t preach toughness. You’ve got to have it.”

When asked about his personal performance in last night’s game, James said he could have been better. Surprisingly, The King finished with a plus-minus score of minus-30 in his 34 minutes of playing time.

“Personally? I had opportunities where I could have been better,” James said of his performance. “Um, one thing about it: I always bring toughness to the game. I know that. That’s for sure.”

Cavs Head Coach Tyronn Lue, who was whistled for a rare technical foul in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game for arguing with referee Zach Zarba, was less than pleased with his team’s effort against the Nuggets. The second-year head coach said the Cavs have to be better in all facets of the game.

“They came and just kicked our butt in every facet of the game,” Lue said. “Coaches, we got to be better, but players, they got to be better too. They got to be tougher. Got to (have) more urgency, and it comes from all of us. They got three-point shots, they got points in the paint, they got offensive rebounds. They got, I mean, whatever they wanted. And we got to be better than that. It starts with the coaches, but the players got to look at themselves in the mirror too. They got to be more physical, they got to bring a physical presence, and they’ve got to take pride in guarding their man.”

The Cavs fell behind by as many as 21 points last night. During his media availability after the game, Coach Lue continued pounding home the point of effort.

“A team’s up 40 points and they’re just playing physical and hard,” Lue said of the Nuggets, whose largest lead over the Cavs was really 21 points. “We’re down 40, and we got guys just walking away and doing whatever. So we got to take pride in that, and we got to be better.”

The Cavs will indeed need to focus now. With just 12 games remaining in the regular season, they are currently leading the Eastern Conference standings by just one game over the Boston Celtics.

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