CLEVELAND -- The Cavaliers had their most complete offensive performance of the young season as LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 86 points en route to a 118-111 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, but it was the Cavs' defense that left coach David Blatt downtrodden Monday.
"I can honestly tell you I'm a little disappointed in the moments of lethargy that we have on defense," Blatt said after his team allowed the most points out of any game it has played in its 3-3 start. "And our guys need to understand that if we want to consistently beat great and good teams and very good teams like the one we saw tonight, we cannot afford to sleep for parts of the game or parts of the quarter."
James played it coy when informed by a reporter that Blatt had lamented the Cavs' "lethargy" on the defensive end.
"Who?" James joked. "I don't know that word."
Cleveland was outscored by five in the first half as Ryan Anderson got in a rhythm, pumping in 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting (including 5-for-7 from 3) off the bench. James admitted the Cavs needed to identify Anderson sooner and make him a defensive priority instead of allowing him to stay hot for so long.
"I think we got to do a better job of recognizing what guys do, what their pros [are], what they don't like to do and force them to do something that they're not comfortable with doing," James said. "Tonight we gave up 12 3-point attempts to one player [Anderson], and he hit eight of them. He's a knock-down shooter; we got to try to make him do a little something that's different."
Anderson finished with 32 points but was held scoreless in the third quarter as Shawn Marion drew the assignment of checking him.
"That was the only quarter we defended him, because the rest of the game he killed us, but that was also the quarter that we turned it around," Blatt said.
The Cavs outscored the Pelicans 34-23 in the third, holding New Orleans to 7-for-20 shooting (35 percent).
Irving allowed there is plenty of room for improvement for the Cavs' defense but said he'll accept his team winning no matter the script for the time being.
"Honestly, [111 points is] a little too high, but at this point, it's about getting wins," Irving said. "It's going to matter when it comes down to it at the end of the season. We just got to get whatever we can. But we got stops when we needed to, and they were making shots."
Blatt tried to drive home the point that the Cavs won't even be able to win ugly if their defense doesn't develop.
"You're going to get scored on. I don't remember a game that finished 20-0 unless it was a cancellation, but you got to defend throughout the course of a game, and I thought we had some very lethargic moments defensively," Blatt said. "And that's disturbing, that's worrisome and that's the message for me. Hey, you're right, I'm happy. We beat a very good team. But I'm more concerned than happy. We want to beat teams consistently? Can't allow ourselves to be lethargic on defense at any point in the game."