After suffering four losses in a week, LeBron James took it upon himself to help the Cleveland Cavaliers break their skid.
James and Co. delivered their best defensive performance of the season to defeat the Orlando Magic 106-74.
The four-time MVP led the way with 29 points, 11 assists, four rebounds and three steals in just three quarters of play before resting in the fourth.
The dominating effort came after James said “I stink” and “I’m not doing my job” in the shootaround before the game.
“I’m my biggest critic,” James said following the win.
“I wasn’t happy with my play the last week. No one puts any more pressure on me than myself.
"You go out and you just don’t talk about it, you show it too.”
James’ numbers were down during Cleveland’s losing streak when he averaged 18.5 points and 41 per cent shooting from the field.
He wasted little time making up for his struggles against Orlando, scoring 16 aggressive points in the opening quarter.
James attacked the rim and converted all seven of his free throws, while hitting four shots, including a 3-pointer, in the first period.
The strong start set the tone at Quicken Loans Arena and the rest of the Cavaliers followed suit.
“His influence is widespread,” Cleveland coach David Blatt said.
“The things that he does and the way he plays the game and the impact he has on those around him is consequential in every respect.
"He can impact in every way. He did that and obviously everyone followed.”
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for the Cavaliers was the way their defence played.
The 74 points, 36.3 field goal percentage by the Magic were the least allowed by Cleveland all season, while their 14 steals and nine blocks were high marks.
“I just think it was the energy and effort and the communication,” James said.
Only two Orlando players reached double figures in scoring with centre Nikola Vucevic recording 18 and guard Victor Oladipo netting 22.
The other nine players combined to average fewer than four points each.
Oladipo, who had five turnovers, said: “They did a good job of getting their hands on balls, getting a lot of steals and getting deflections.
"They did a great job of rotating and stuff like that, so just credit them for playing a great game.”
Even after the stifling defensive showing, the Cavaliers are allowing 100.5 points per game, placing them 19th in the bottom half of the league.
Playing on their home floor, where they hold a 3-4 record, also hasn’t been as advantageous as it seemed coming into the season.
Cleveland will look to establish their home presence in the three remaining games of their current five-game homestand, starting with their match-up against the Washington Wizards tonight (04:00).
Player of the week
He's looked like his old self the past week when he averaged 23.7 points, including a career-high 36 in the Toronto Raptors' win over Cleveland.
Know more about Sport360 Application