CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) " LeBron James sat at his locker dabbing his right eye with a wet compress while having difficulty keeping it open.
A battle scar from a rough night.
James will meet with an eye doctor after a physical game in which he was poked in the eye by Jeremy Lamb, but remained in the game to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Central Division-clinching 112-105 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.
James finished with 32 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds as the Cavaliers bounced back from their worst defensive outing of the season Wednesday night in a loss to the Denver Nuggets.
"If Coach decides to give me a game off, it's not because I'm resting, it's because I'm banged up," James said with a hint of sarcasm referring to the grief Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers took from the league for resting James, Irving and Love earlier this week against the Los Angeles Clippers.
James' status for Saturday night's home game against the Washington Wizards is unclear.
"I'll be all right," James said.
Kyrie Irving added 26 points and Kevin Love had 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Cavaliers snapped Charlotte's three-game winning streak and remained atop the Eastern Conference standings.
"Winning and continuing to hold this No. 1 seed and winning our division is good for the offense," Lue said. "I want to see us continue to play well. That's going to be my challenge going down the stretch."
Lue called it the most physical game his team has played all season.
James got hit in the eye by Lamb when he scored on a layup in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
He remained down on the court for more than the minute. When he finally lined up at the foul line to complete the three-point play, he threw the ball back to the referee because he was unable to focus and the Cavs took a timeout. James returned the floor and sank the free throw.
Later in the fourth quarter, James took a hard foul on a drive to the hole and was slow to get up after landing on his back. He took hard contact on two other drives as well.
"I liked our disposition tonight," James said. "We came in with a physical mindset and it basically helped us win the game. Because we were physical from the start all the way to the finish."
The Cavaliers did it with defense.
After allowing 73 first-half points " and 70 in the paint " in a 126-113 loss to the Nuggets, the Cavaliers held the Hornets to 42 percent shooting from the field. It was a welcome change for Lue, whose team had allowed its previous four opponents to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings