x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

James has a day off and the Cavs have an off day

NBA's front runners are beaten by the Milwaukee Bucks as the league's scoring leader reluctantly sits one out.

The Cavaliers' LeBron James watches from the bench as Cleveland fall behind Milwaukee.
The Cavaliers' LeBron James watches from the bench as Cleveland fall behind Milwaukee.

Mike Brown, the coach of the NBA's overall leaders the Cleveland Cavaliers, decided to give LeBron James, his team leader and the league's reigning MVP, a well-deserved night off. It was, he thought, a good move, even though James disagreed and wanted to play against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.

James, as he so often is, was right. The Bucks beat the Cavaliers for the first time this season, and while Brown was quick to explain the logic behind his decision, there was little question that if James had chipped in with just an average evening's output for the Cavaliers - his average evening's output is a league-leading 30 points a game - they would have chalked up their 50th victory of the season instead of going down 92-85.

Brown made his decision a night after James, who had led the Cavaliers in scoring for 16 consecutive games, tweaked his right ankle in a 40-point performance in a win over Detroit, but the coach stressed that James was healthy and could have played. "He has played a lot of minutes for us. I just felt it would be good for him and for the team to hold him out," Brown said. "He's a competitive person. He wants to be out there. Sometimes I listen to him. Sometimes I won't.

"This is my decision based on the minutes I think he has played and his body and all that other stuff. "He has carried a big load, not only scoring, but the minutes he has played. "Even though at times, he may not like it, even he needs to sit down and rest and recuperate. "There'll be people saying it was a great game and there'll be other people saying well, LeBron didn't play, if he would have played, they would have won.

"It's a lose-lose situation for us." Brandon Jennings scored 25 points, Carlos Delfino added 16 and Andrew Bogut 15 as the Bucks took an 11-point lead after the first quarter and a 69-61 edge entering the fourth quarter. Antawn Jamison scored 30 points and Delonte West added 27 to lead the Cavaliers, but no other player scored more than seven for Cleveland, whose record slipped to 49-15. Elsewhere in the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points while Rodrigue Beaubois and Caron Butler added 24 each as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Chicago Bulls 122-116 to extend their season-high winning run to 11 games.

Nowitzki scored 13 in the fourth quarter and the Mavericks hung on after watching a 14-point lead shrink to four, sending Chicago to their fourth consecutive loss. It was a frustrating night for the home side, and the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich said: "We just couldn't stop them at the other end. Dallas are 43-21 for a reason. They play well together." The Detroit Pistons' guard Rodney Stuckey, who collapsed on the bench during the game at Cleveland on Friday, was released from a Cleveland clinic on Saturday after tests showed normal results.

Stuckey had been kept overnight for observation after being taken off the court on a stretcher. The collapse was not the first medical scare for Stuckey, who missed two games in 2008 after complaining of dizziness and feeling lightheaded during a game sports@thenational.ae