- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 22, 2014

LeBron James‘ pregame recital of Jay Z’s song “Breathe Easy” in the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ locker room on Friday evening seemed to fall upon deaf ears.

“Maintain your stamina,” James said, reciting the song with the help of golden Beats by Dre headphones.

Back in the locker room after the Cavaliers lost to the Washington Wizards 91-78, James rapped a different tune — one of confusion over their lack of energy.

“That’s something that I cannot explain right now,” he said. “That’s something that we have to have. We have guys that come out no matter what and have energy. Losing doesn’t help it. It zaps the energy away. But I think for us, we worried about the end game too much instead of going out and just playing.”

If the Wizards went scoreless in the fourth quarter on Friday, they still would’ve won. They entered the fourth leading 80-65.

Cleveland only scored 13 the rest of the way — three of which came from James — which led to its third straight loss. Mike Miller’s three-pointer with 9:15 left in regulation was the Cavaliers‘ last field goal.

With 6:39 remaining, Dion Waiters missed a three with Cleveland down, 86-73. Kevin Seraphin grabbed the defensive rebound over James, who let his momentum carry him off the court all the way to the pole of the hoop. Visibly frustrated, he took his time getting back on defense.

Kyrie Irving wasn’t pleased with the Cavaliers‘ effort.

“We didn’t come out with the necessary intensity that we needed to for the full 40 minutes,” he said, “but we fought back in the fourth quarter because the ball just wasn’t going in. Just one of the games we’ll look back on — we just have to learn from it.”

Cleveland’s 78 points was its lowest total this season. Its previous low had been 82 against the Portland Trail Blazers. With the Cavaliers‘ latest loss, their record fell to 5-6.

Coach David Blatt shared postgame what he believes is the key to breaking their slump, which includes defeats to the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs this week.

“First thing is that guys have to take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves where and how they can impact positively and try to simplify things,” he said. “You have to look and see if you can make a change or two but not recreate the wheel.”

Cleveland’s bench finished the night with nine points, compared to 40 for Washington. Waiters scored only two points, after bickering this preseason with John Wall over whose backcourt is the best in the NBA (Wall and Bradley Beal outscored Irving and Waiters 40-24 on Friday). Waiters, who started three games this season, didn’t come off the bench until the second quarter.

“[Coach Blatt] has to see who plays well with one another,” James said, which didn’t happen at the Verizon Center.

Blatt’s rotation may not have been perfect, but Irving blamed the Cavaliers‘ woes on a lack of effort over a lack of chemistry.

“Right now, we don’t have the luxury of taking plays off or taking possessions off or letting teams back in and we just put ourselves in holes,” Irving said, “and then we start fighting. We have to come out with a better fight and it starts with me as one of the leaders on the team on both ends of the floor. Just come out with a different mindset. It’s going to start with me. It’s going to start with LeBron. It’s going to start with everybody in this locker room.”

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