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LeBron on season-high turnovers: 'I suck'

LeBron James recorded nine turnovers against the Hawks on Friday night, tied for his season high. Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

ATLANTA -- After tying a season-high with nine turnovers in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 106-97 loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks on Friday, LeBron James offered up a succinct critique of his play: "I suck."

It was the ninth game this season James totaled seven or more turnovers. Cleveland is just 4-5 when that happens.

The 12-year veteran is averaging a career-high 4.2 turnovers per game this season, his first back in Cleveland. The three most turnover-prone seasons of his career all occurred when he entered a new situation, as he averaged 3.5 turnovers in his rookie season and 3.6 turnovers in his first season with the Miami Heat.

"As far as turnovers, I suck, I suck," James said. "Tonight was another one of those nights. Some of them were attacking. I remember I had a couple I drove left hard, I thought Kev [Kevin Love] was going to be at a certain place, he cut, I threw it out of bounds. The first two turnovers, I got my arm grabbed. I wasn't strong with the ball. I turned the ball over.

"My last turnover, I seen Kyrie [Irving] open in the paint. I tried to throw high, I should have thrown low. Those are careless turnovers, so it was split. Of my nine, I think five of them were unforced, four of them were attack turnovers. But, I suck. As far as me turning the ball over, I got to do better."

James used the same critique of himself last month in a much more facetious manner. Following Cleveland's 113-93 win over Miami on Feb. 11, Mike Miller pointed to the television screen in the Cavs' locker room that showed analysts discussing James being in the running for MVP this season. "Hey, LeBron, you're an MVP candidate," Miller said. James quipped back: "I don't know why, I suck."

Cavs coach David Blatt did not pile on and deflected the significance of James' miscues in Atlanta.

"That is not what concerns me," Blatt said. "It just concerns me when we're not moving the ball and putting ourselves in easy positions to score. That's what concerns me."

James was checked for the majority of the game by Atlanta's DeMarre Carroll.

"Like I've said before, I just want to be a gnat," Carroll said after also helping hold James to just 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting. "When you're outside in the summer and you just can't get that gnat away from you -- that's all I want to be."

Carroll certainly made a greater impact than an insect when he fouled James with 7:16 remaining in the second quarter as the four-time MVP was in midair going for the hoop.

Considering James had been the target of two flagrant fouls in his previous three games entering Friday, he was asked if he thought Carroll's foul was excessive.

"I didn't see it as that way," James said. "It was a good, hard foul and you move on. I'm fine with how they called it and I shot my free throws."

Despite not having a problem with the Carroll foul, James admitted the extra contact he receives is becoming commonplace.

"They are [trending]," James said. "It's taking a little toll. I mean, it's the game. I think that's what the game plan is on me: Take the hard foul. And we just got to keep pushing forward. For me, I got to worry about the game and not the fouls and go up there and make the free throws."

Blatt was whistled for his first technical foul of the season for arguing with the referees in the second quarter after James was called for an offensive foul for pushing off with his off hand.

"I just think LeBron is getting hit and getting hit every time he goes to the basket, and half of them are ignored, and I said this the other night, because of the strength and the power that he brings to his drives," Blatt said. "It's easy just to overlook a lot of stuff. That was the reason [I argued with the referee]."

Blatt again called for more protection for his star small forward.

"It does seem to be a trend," Blatt said. "That's going to happen now and again, but when it's happening continually, that's worrisome. And it should be worrisome for everybody. Because there's ways to defend guys and there's ways to defend guys physically, but there's a limit."

Love said the contact is inevitable with James' style of play, but put the onus on himself and James' teammates to serve as his bodyguards.

"It's tough to see that, but he's our leader and he's a guy that's going to take a lot of those hard fouls with how he plays and how he plays downhill," Love said. "So, we have his back and we need to have his back going forward because that can't keep happening."