James frustrated after Game 6 loss
ORLANDO, Fla. -- LeBron James walked off the court, head down, brushing off a few pieces of confetti. He ignored the few taunts by Magic fans and took one last look at the crowd without muttering a word.
Not to anyone.
A scintillating series by the NBA's MVP was washed away by his not-so-supporting cast, as the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated Saturday night with a 103-90 loss to the Orlando Magic in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
James dressed quickly in the locker room, put on headphones and went to the team bus without talking to reporters. In obvious frustration, he let his play do all the talking.
James had 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in his least spectacular game of the series. He went scoreless in the second quarter, allowing the Magic to go ahead by 18 points at the half with little help from teammates.
"We can't put it all on him," Cavs forward Joe Smith said. "He needs some help."
James averaged more than 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the series, performances that are almost unmatched in league history. But he is starving for a wingman.
2009 NBA Playoffs
Want an in-depth look at the Cavs-Magic series? Check out all the stats, analysis and opinion here:• Cavs-Magic page
All-Star Mo Williams was supposed to provide James with a go-to scorer. The Cavs were counting on Delonte West to be a prominent shooter under pressure, and a healthy Zydrunas Ilgauskas was expected to be a solid inside presence.
None happened. Not when it counted.
That league-best, 66-win regular season disappeared against a Magic team that accounted for six of the Cavs' losses this season, counting the playoffs. While West (22 points), Williams (17 points) and Ilgauskas (2 points) helped the Cavs trim the deficit to 11 in the third quarter, they again leaned heavily on James to make a comeback that never really felt close.
"You need a total team effort to win," Magic forward Rashard Lewis said. "LeBron's a great player, but at the same time, you need more than one guy. You need five guys. You need guys coming off the bench."
For Cleveland, a city desperate for a championship after a 45-year drought, it's the same old story -- wait until next year. Even King James needs help in his court.
If not for some jaw-dropping moments by James, the Cavs might not have even extended the series as far as they did.
His unforgettable, buzzer-beating 3-pointer saved Cleveland in Game 2. James had 21 points in the second half -- 17 in the fourth quarter -- in Game 5 and had a hand in 31 straight Cleveland points. He finished with 37 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists in that game to become the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1963 to have such numbers in a playoff game.
But trying to carry an entire team proved to be too much.
"I don't think it was just LeBron that was tired," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "I think it was everybody out on that floor. And LeBron logged 45 minutes for us."
James has all summer to think about the series.
The Cavs will surely try to sign James to an extension this offseason before he can opt out of his contract in the summer of 2010. Whether the Akron, Ohio, native will re-sign now -- or ever -- with the Cavs will remain a mystery until then.
He might want some help first.
The Cavs were desperate for baskets throughout the conference finals, often letting James go 1-on-5 against the Magic in hopes he could find a way to win. But that only worked for so long.
"It's very frustrating," Williams said. "I think we both had a 50-50 chance of winning this series. I don't think we was overmatched. They put us in a tough predicament."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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