LeBron says Cavs lack mental strength after loss to Raptors

Ken Blaze / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Up nine with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Cleveland Cavaliers looked well on their way to their 42nd win of the season on Friday.

Instead, LeBron James and co. allowed the Toronto Raptors to claw back thanks to a triumphant effort from Kyle Lowry, and the Cavaliers ultimately fell 99-97 to their East rivals.

"When you lose the way we lost, mental mistake after mental mistake, those hurt more than anything when you can play better mentally," James said to Chris Haynes of cleveland.com. "People get so caught up on the physical side of the game. We lack mental right now, and we've got to continue to get better with it."

While James air-balled the potential game-winner, he wasn't to blame for the Cavaliers' defeat, collecting 25 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists while going a team-high plus-10.

Cleveland's normally stingy defense fell apart with the game on the line, conceding 17 points in the final five minutes.

"A couple of unfocused plays, not following the game plan and it burned us," James said.

Friday's defeat shrunk the Cavaliers' Eastern Conference lead to two games, with the red-hot Raptors creeping up behind them. With a series of back-to-backs coming up throughout March, Cleveland will have to refocus if it hopes to retain the No. 1 seed.