Cavs sitting F Kyle Korver several games with foot injury

With less than a minute left to play in the third, LeBron James took an inadvertent elbow to the back of the neck from David Lee and left the game for good. But after Smith walked to the bench to be checked during a timeout, he remained in the game.

Just in time for the Thursday night showdown between LeBron and Dwyane Wade on TNT.

Cavaliers superstar James was limited to 17 points for the defending champions, while guard Kyrie Irving finished with eight points.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. He led all scorers with 10 points in the period, as Orlando outscored Toronto 32-26. For most of the season it seemed like the Cavs would inevitably emerge from the East to take on whoever won the West but right now it really seems like Toronto, Boston or Washington have at least a shot at pulling off what until recently would have to have been considered a huge upset. No one is concerned about James.

"It matters more that we play better basketball than where we're at", James said postgame on Monday night. "That's what it comes down to".

Harrison Barnes missed a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer, clinching the first losing season for the Mavericks (31-42) since 1999-2000, the season that owner Mark Cuban bought the team with Dirk Nowitzki in his second year.

"It matters more that we're playing better basketball than where we're at", he said. "We've been like a rollercoaster all season long and we have to get things right".

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said he'll lean toward getting his team rested, even if it's at the expense of earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The team is exhausted, the schedule has been crappy, they've been ravaged by injuries all season, they can't catch a break, the team isn't focused on the regular season, they're still working in a lot of new faces and they haven't had much practice time to do so. "I think that's what we're lacking right now". They have put on quite an impressive record of 25-8 since January 17 when they were just 11-30 and heading to the lottery. Asked whether that's a function of exhausted legs or a lack of athleticism, Lue said it was probably both.

Added Lue: "We do have slow guys". But we were just trying to make other guys make plays, and we did that collectively, as a group. "But I don't have the feeling that we are ready yet, that we are playing at a level in which we are ready to go and face whoever we're going to play in the playoffs".

It's hard to buy into that being a serious injury when we know LeBron James is pretty much a superhuman cyborg. "Just hopefully we can just keep this carrying over to the next game". The Golden State Warriors are two games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs.

San Antonio Spurs Lineups: PG - Tony Parker, SG - Patty Mills, SF - Kawhi Leonard, PF - LaMarcus Aldridge, C - Pau Gasol. San Antonio coasted the rest of the way and led by 30 points in the fourth quarter. He also blocked a James shot, all in the first half.

James led Cleveland with 12 points and Thompson added 10 but the Cavaliers' bench did not get a point out of the four reserves that saw the court in the first half.

  • Julie Sanders