Cavs to Coach Brown: Let us Run!


CLEVELAND (AP) - LeBron James and the Cavaliers want to run, run, run. Coach Mike Brown isn't ready to let his team loose.

With their offense sputtering during a rough patch in an up-and-down season, some of the Cavaliers, most prominently James, are questioning the club's defense-oriented philosophy.

James, whose scoring average is down five points from last season, believes the Cavs would be better off playing at a faster pace, pushing the ball up the floor to quicken the game's tempo, and, to score more points.

Larry Hughes has the same opinion, as do other Cleveland players.

That contradicts Brown's offensive style: a deliberate, half-court flow of screens and patience he learned working on San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich's staff - a system that helped the Cavs advance in last season's playoffs.

James, though, feels it's time for a change. It's time to run.

"I think so," he said. "We've got enough athletes where we can get up and down the court. At times the coaching staff feels the same way, at other times, no. We're kind of playing basketball for the playoffs. Our offense is geared toward half-court basketball instead of getting out and running."

James said he has told the coach that, too.

Brown, in his second season as Cleveland's coach, won't make any radical changes and he doesn't mind if the Cavaliers run more. But when they do press the action, he just wants them to be smart about it.

"This thing is ever evolving," he said. "You tweak stuff, you don't make changes. I don't believe in that. Whatever you have, especially what's working for you, you make a tweak here and a tweak there and do use repetition and that's how you get better."

Right now, the Cavs and their coach are begging to differ. It's a debate - nothing more. But having players on one page, and the coach on another is never a good thing for any team. And not when the resident superstar isn't satisfied.

The Cavaliers have lost eight of 12 and are sliding in the standings after being atop the Eastern Conference for much of the season's first half. However, since the opener they've had trouble putting the ball in the basket.

Following a 90-78 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, the Cavs rank 24th in the league in scoring (95.3 points per game), 26th in field-goal percentage and 30th (last) in free-throw percentage.

Those numbers don't trouble James as much as the fact that the club has scored five or less fastbreak points eight times. In a game earlier this season, the Phoenix Suns outscored the Cavs 34-3 in transition buckets.

"At the end of the day, if you don't put points on the board, you're not going to win basketball games," he said. "You can hold a team to 42 percent shooting, but if they make enough offensive plays and we don't, you're going to lose.

"We don't get easy buckets. I don't get easy buckets like I used to. Easy buckets can always help, it doesn't hurt. At times, it's fun to get up and down and throw lobs, I've probably caught two lobs this year, that's a career low."

Brown recently "tweaked" his lineup, replacing point guard Eric Snow in the starting lineup with rookie Daniel Gibson, who other than being exposed in Sunday's loss by Chauncey Billups, has played well. Forward Sasha Pavlovic is getting more minutes and has shown flashes of becoming a reliable scorer off the bench.

Gibson's speed has helped the Cavs initiate their offense more quickly than with Snow, their best defender. Still, the club is frequently rushing off shots to beat the 24-second clock.

"I think we do a lot of dribbling, when the time is running down, we can't attack, you have to settle for a jump shot," James said. "For the most part, we want to play a half-court game. I'm not saying it's a negative, because we are at times a good half-court team."

And while the Cavaliers (27-21) haven't played up to their expectations, they don't have any problems a little running can't cure.

"I still don't think it is time to panic, we need to keep an even keel," Hughes said. "I definitely think we should run more, it suits our team. Somewhat, we're trying. I think that we're a much better running team than we've showed."