Whether it was part of a larger plan or just a powerful, unspoken byproduct of his absence, James showed in 2015 the sway he held if and when the team around him wasn't up to his standard. He scored the last nine Cavaliers points.
From an individual perspective, Larry Nance Jr. - who will be taking on his former team on Sunday night - set a career-high for consecutive double-doubles (three, March 5-present) and consecutive double-digit scoring outings (six, February 27-present). "They've got some big, talented dudes down there". He's now the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West.
"We can't afford to drop too many more", guard Gary Harris said. "We knew how important this game was". Brook Lopez led the team with 29 points on 12 of 18 shooting, Julius Randle added 18 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 17 points while Lonzo Ball chipped in with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
The Cavs cut a 16-point deficit to 85-77 heading into the fourth.
However, the Cleveland Cavaliers trade for DeAndre Jordan never happened. However, much like in the offseason when the Cavs chose to pass on names like Paul George and Gordon Hayward, the Cavaliers also refused to spend big on trades for huge superstars.
The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported earlier this week that LeBron would only be considering four teams - the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers - in free agency, but James insists that there's no list and that he hasn't seriously thought about the topic yet.
Should he opt out, this will be old hat for the Cavaliers as it would be the third time since his return to the Cleveland in 2014 that James has done so, meaning there shouldn't be any hard feelings between both sides should he do that again. However, the Clippers didn't want Shumpert or any other bloated contract, such as Tristan Thompson's or JR Smith's, so the deal fell apart.
"I've still got too much work to do here", James said, speaking about the Cavaliers' season, which has 18 games remaining before the playoffs. "You always try to get a minute here, a minute there so you can have fresh legs as much as possible".
On Christmas Day 2014, when James and the Cavaliers played Dwyane Wade in Miami, the production crew at ABC caught audio of James whispering to Wade something that sounded an terrible lot like, "Listen, we've done it before". They've been one of the league's best teams since the new year began, now standing at 35-28 with a chance to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Although the Lakers are now viewed as having low chances of landing James, this notion must first be fully understood that there is still a sizeable chunk of the season left.
Cleveland averages 23.6 assists per game, which ranks eighth in the National Basketball Association. They're riding a two-game winning streak, and are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
The game's final 36 minutes took on a simple plot - Cleveland made a run and the Clippers kept them at bay. Totals 43-89 19-30 116.