LeBron James can do whatever he wants to do on the basketball court, and on Thursday night in Detroit, what he wanted to do was dunk the ball.
So dunk he did, amassing an impressive seven slams during a 106-101 loss to the Pistons - part of a triple-double performance (29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists).
Though James was able to throw down some impressive dunks, other aspects of his game weren't working on Thursday night. Notably, he was 0-for-6 from behind the three-point arc and only 5-for-8 from the free-throw stripe.
Thus, after the game, James downplayed his high-flying show, telling ESPN.com he was just trying to do whatever worked:
"Just trying to be aggressive - be aggressive and attack the rim. That's pressure on their defense. I was able to get into the lane," James said. "My outside shot wasn't going for me tonight, so I'm able to switch off and go somewhere else."
Still, seven dunks is an incredible performance win or lose, and by doing it in a triple-double performance, James showed that, even when his outside shot isn't falling, he remains one of the best scorers in the NBA.
Of LeBron's seven dunks, the below video of a third-quarter slam may be the best of the bunch from King James, as he absolutely posterizes Detroit forward Tobias Harris:
Then there was this dunk, which came off a beautiful pass from All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who finished the game with 27 points and three dimes:
However, despite the highlight-reel plays, the Cavaliers still lost. When LeBron wasn't on the court, the Pistons outscored Cleveland by a whopping 23 points. Even with J.R. Smith back in the mix at guard, the Cavs are still lost without their leader on the floor.
Another reason for the struggles in Detroit was a general ineffectiveness from beyond the arc. In addition to James's 0-for-6 mark, Smith was 1-for-8 and Irving was 1-for-6. The Cavs clearly miss sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who sat out Thursday night's game with a left foot injury.
With the loss, the Cavaliers dropped to 42-21 on the season. They now lead the Celtics by only two games in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
However, Boston may not be the team Cleveland needs to worry about the most. The Washington Wizards - currently three games behind the Cavs - have won three games in a row and seven of their last 10 contests.
The Cavaliers have one game remaining against both the Celtics and Wizards. They'll need to have strong showings in both of those contests to re-assert their Eastern Conference supremacy.