Is LeBron James Distracting the Cavaliers by Feuding With NBA Officials?

LeBron James put up a triple-double on Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings.

That wasn’t enough to overcome 40-year-old Vince Carter and a franchise stuttering around the lower reaches of the Western Conference. For the second time in three days the Cavaliers lost, this time in a 109-95 blowout.

"Sometimes, when you're winning as much as you're winning, you have slippage," Dwyane Wade told ESPN after the game. "We've had some slippage, and we've got to figure out a way to nip it in the bud before it becomes: 'We in a rut, and we've got to get ourselves back out of it.'"

If it’s a rut then it’s one that most other teams in the NBA would take right now. Before a streak of three losses in four games over the holidays, the Cavaliers had won 18 of 19. They finish a three-game Christmas road trip by visiting the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

Perhaps it’s the way the trip has unfolded that has been more unsettling than the losses. The defeat to the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day continues to linger like some bad smell. It seemed like the center of attention before the Kings game, with James talking about the missed calls late in the game that could have swung the result toward the Cavaliers.

"I think for me the worst thing is when I actually go and talk to the ref and they say, 'It was nothing,'" James said before the Cavaliers lost to the Kings in quotes reported by ESPN. "Like I go over [and say], 'You didn't see that?' 'No I didn't think it was anything. It was no call. No foul.' That's the worst for me.”

The NBA confirmed on Wednesday that James was fouled three times by the Warriors’ Kevin Durant during the final possessions of the Cavaliers’ 99-92 defeat. The score was 95-92 to Golden State at the time. The league’s ‘Last Two Minute’ report on the officiating within the final 120 seconds stated Durant fouled James twice within the final 30 seconds. "He fouled me twice, but whatever. What are you going to do about it?" James told NBA.com after the loss. "It doesn't change the outcome, it doesn't change what happened in the rest of the game," Durant said Wednesday. "It's more than just two minutes to play basketball. But, I can see why they made those calls and came up with that report. I understand it's a physical game and they can miss some calls."

The Warriors blew out the Jazz on Wednesday night, as Carter had fun with the Cavaliers’ defense. Cleveland may not be in Wade’s rut yet. But it hasn’t been a happy Christmas so far.