“Just having three games in four nights, an early game and we just played in Toronto the other day,” Lue explained. “I just felt today is a good game to get him a break and give him a rest.”
It is just the second game James has missed all season. He also sat out the Cavs’ 99-84 loss to the Miami Heat on Dec. 5 on the second night of a back-to-back. The Wizards game marks the start of a back-to-back for the Cavs, with Cleveland hosting the Indiana Pacers on Monday.
James played 40 minutes, including the entire second half, in the Cavs’ 99-97 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday.
“He didn’t want to come out,” Lue said. “He didn’t want to come out. I should’ve got him out, but he didn’t want to come out. As the game started down the stretch getting close, I said I’m going to get you out for a couple minutes. He said, ‘No!’ He went crazy. That kind of has something to do with sitting him today, an early game at 1 o’clock.”
After James had one of his worst performances of the season — 12 points on 5-for-18 shooting with six turnovers — in the Cavs’ 96-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons last week, Lue said his “gut” instinct was to rest him, and he wished he had followed through.
If this is a sign of James, a 31-year-old in his 13th season, slowing down, he isn’t about to admit it. He recently said, “This year I feel 10 times better than I did last year,” when asked about his health.
Richard Jefferson will start in James’ place.