Cavaliers coach David Blatt said before the game that the team does not believe James' knee issue is serious, but decided to hold him out as a precaution. Blatt said James is day-to-day, and it is undetermined if he will play Friday against the Pelicans.
Blatt said the soreness is located in the back of James' left knee and that he first started feeling the discomfort after the Cavs' win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
"Nothing major," Blatt said. "Again, not a serious problem. We'll monitor it, we'll treat him and we'll see how he's feeling tomorrow."
Blatt said "at this point" there was no plan to have James undergo an MRI on the knee.
Irving avoided an injury scare when he collided with Russell Westbrook and crumpled to the floor as his left knee appeared to bend inward late in the first half. He was helped up and off the court to the locker room, but returned to start the second half.
The Cavs' eight-game winning streak ended Thursday, as Westbrook led the Thunder to a nine-point win.
James, who turns 30 later this month and is in his 12th season, is averaging 38.0 minutes per game this season, which is second-most in the league behind Chicago's Jimmy Butler and the most James has played in any season since 2010-11 -- his first year with the Miami Heat. But Blatt dismissed James' minute load being a factor, saying the team was "perfect" in having James play its target amount of minutes.
The coach also said the knee has not been a lingering issue for James this season.
"There was nothing specific that happened to him the last game," Blatt said. "He's just got a little bit of soreness. It's happened to him before, it's not the first time. And we're being cautious, that's it."
James missed the Cavs' morning shootaround in order to receive treatment on "general soreness" in his left knee.
After sitting out several practices and exhibition games during the preseason for rest, James had played in all 20 of Cleveland's regular-season games until Thursday, averaging 24.8 points, 7.7 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.
This is the first time since the 2007-08 season that James has missed a game before Christmas, according to ESPN Stats & Information. James missed five straight games that season from Nov. 30 to Dec. 8 with a sprained left index finger.