"I'm only one guy," James said when smiles still were prevalent in the Cavaliers' locker room. "If I can clone myself, we'd be all right."
He was joking about the defensive predicament he had found himself in the previous two games of these Eastern Conference finals against the Magic, when he defended Hedo Turkoglu during a key late possession in Game 1 and Rashard Lewis hit the key shot, then when he defended Lewis in Game 2 and Turkoglu hit Orlando's last basket.
This series, however, is not about James' body double, the player who curiously finished second in balloting for Defensive Player of the Year.
It is about a James who continues to stand painfully alone in the scoring column.
In Game 1, James scored 49 and Cleveland lost by one, when no other Cavalier had more than 17. In Game 2, the game won on James' buzzer-beating 3-pointer, James scored 35, with no other Cavalier with even 20.
Sunday, there were 41 from James, no one else with more than 15, as Cleveland fell to a 2-1 deficit in this best-of-seven series.
"There's no room for excuses at this point of the season," James said.
"I hope and I think guys are going to be confident about every shot they take."
This is, of course, nothing new for the Cavaliers. Against Atlanta in the previous round, James averaged 33.8 points, no teammate more than Delonte West's 15.
In the first round, James finished at 32.0 against the Pistons, with Mo Williams next at 14.8.
But wasn't this the season when Danny Ferry was going to lighten the load, when a comfort zone was going to make James so comfortable that any thoughts of a 2010 escape act would be erased?
Think the 2010 free-agency talk was over the top this season? Wait until next season's road swings, when James will be pestered by, "LeBron, if you don't make it to the Finals this season…" to be followed by, "… would you then think about playing in (fill in city being visited at the time)?"
The answer last summer was supposed to have been Williams. During the regular season, the former Bucks guard was a pretty good answer, an All-Star answer. But this is a different level, perhaps not a Mo Williams level. Williams entered Sunday's loss shooting 41 percent this postseason, including just 13 of 40 against the Magic. Then, at Sunday's moment of truth, there was a 5 of 16, as well as a game-high five turnovers.
West? Only marginally better Sunday. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao? Virtual no shows, with 13 total points on 4-of-12 shooting.
"They're packing the paint on LeBron," Williams said. "Game 4 is going to have to be a collective group.
"It's amazing we're still in games, at times. And I think you know why. It was number twenty-three. I got to figure out how I can make some shots."
"We're missing some very easy shots, shots we've always made," James said. "I got to make sure our team is ready for Game 4."
While James almost certainly won't now make it easy for Ferry by extending this summer, there still are resources, albeit limited resources, for Ferry to make things happen, such as sign-and-trades involving Varejao and Wally Szczerbiak.
Approached before Sunday's game and asked about 2010, Ferry's face turned as dour as it would three hours later.
These are not the best times to be considering the Cavaliers' future.
Not when LeBron is so alone, with such limited support.
For nearly a week now, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has been lamenting his team's inability to get a handle on James, how he has somehow failed in that mission.
Don't believe it, certainly not from the woe-is-me Magic coach.
This is working out perfectly.
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