November 19, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James flattered Cavaliers coach David Blatt with some high praise.

''He does his job, as great as any coach can do in this league,'' James said Thursday morning at Cleveland's shootaround before its night game against Milwaukee. ''It's up for us to go out and produce.''

Despite injuries to key players, the Cavaliers entered the game 8-3 and tied with Chicago for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

''I can tell you it's easier to coach a team when you have LeBron James on your side,'' Blatt said before the game. ''It sure makes it a heck of a lot nicer. That was a nice thing to say.''

After losing the opener to Chicago, the Cavaliers won eight straight before dropping two in a row. James criticized his teammates after both losses saying they need to get tougher, an opinion the coach also expressed.

Blatt praised the four-time MVP for showing leadership.

''In general what really, really defines him as a player is his desire to win championships,'' Blatt said. ''Above and beyond all of the overwhelming accolades and greatness he's displayed throughout his career, it's pretty easy to team up with a guy like that and it's also refreshing to come every day and know that you're about the same things with your best guy. He's a leader. He's a great player and he wants to win. You can't ask for more than that from any player, particularly your star player.''

Blatt chose to have a film session Wednesday instead of practice in which he broke down what the team did wrong in the two losses.

''Coach Blatt got on us pretty well,'' James said. ''Rightfully so, which he should have and we spent about 45 minutes in the film room. Yesterday was definitely not a day off. It was day off from the court, but not from us preparing and still getting better.''

The Cavaliers have been dealing with injuries all season. Kyrie Irving (fractured left kneecap) and Iman Shumpert (right wrist surgery) have yet to play. Mo Williams has a sore leg and J.R. Smith missed time with a knee injury.

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