Archive for February, 2009

Hey, meet me.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

My little “meet your blogger” tidbit is up on TrueHoop. So go meet me. Also, for the record, I like Jamison but am not down with paying him all-star money until 2012. That has albatross written all over it. That is all.

Blogging in a Lively Fashion @TrueHoop

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Hey, I’ll keep this short: Me, Arnovitz, and Mahoney are live-blogging tonight’s All-Star Saturday Night over on TrueHoop. Go Check It Out.

Here We Go.

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I’M PUTTING THIS ABOVE THE PICTURE: THE CAVS DO NOT HAVE AMARE STOUDEMIRE.

But it’s become a possibility. According to some rumor mills and some message-board scuttlebutt, Amare could be a Cavalier before the end of the trade deadline. (All message-board scuttlebutt courtesy of realcavsfans.com) Windhorst is on it too, although he’s got a more pessimistic point of view about the realities of the situation. 

What’s the deal on the table?

Right now, it looks like the deal is Wally’s expiring contract and JJ Hickson plus a first round pick. That’s more or less what’s been discussed, although the Cavs adding Delonte West with the Suns adding Goran Dragic would work out, as would an add-on package of West and Snow for J-Rich. (RealGM says so, but there might be some weird stuff with J-Rich’s contract and I’m still not sure how the Snow situation works.)

Why is this possible?

Amare is a free agent in the summer of doom, but he’s been vocal about his desire to sign an extension with a team he gets traded to this summer and put his roots down. Basically, he wants wherever he is after the deadline to be his long-term destination. And Portland appears to be out of the running, which basically makes the suitors the Kings, Thunder, Bulls, and Cavaliers at this point. Of those four, only the Bulls and Cavs are not awful (although Westbrook, Durant, Amare, and Jeff Green would be something to behold offensively), and only the Cavs are a contender. And they’re a big-time contender, plus they have that James fella. And we have the big expiring contract and a rookie deal, which means cheapskate Robert Sarver will save as much money as possible. 

Just For The Record, How would you feel about this trade?

OH MY GOOD GOD. THIS WOULD BE AMAZING. Amare’s stock has fallen, but remember that this could be one of the best offensive players of ALL TIME. Here’s the list of players who scored as much as Amare Stoudemire with as high of a TS%:

Kevin McHale

Charles Barkley

That’s it. That’s the list. His ability to score in volume with efficiency is unparallelled. And he prefers to work from a pick-and-roll instead of a post-up offense. LeBron happens to love running the pick-and-roll. If teams trap LeBron, you’ve got Amare setting up for a wide-open 18-footer, which he’s as good at as anyone in the league, or rolling to the hole, and watch out for that. They would be absolutely bananas offensively. There is no ceiling. This is a 26-year old forward who would play perfectly off LeBron James who was a top-3 offensive player last season. I can’t even…oh God, this would be amazing. I can’t even write anymore. Nothing will be announced until after the all-star break. Open thread below. I’m shaking. Longest weekend ever coming up.

Recap: Mo Knows How To Get Us Into The Break

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

 

Overview:

The Cavs cruise to an easy victory against the Nash-less Suns behind a career-high 44 points from Mo Williams. 

Cavs-Related Bullets:

When Mo’s got it going like he does tonight, just pack it up and go home. He can’t be stopped when he’s this hot. How do you stop a guy who does most of his damage off long jumpers on the dribble? Hint: you do not. While Mo’s perimeter-orientedness doesn’t make him the most consistent of scorers (he’s been awful in our two losses), his impeccable perimeter game and ability to go to it and have confidence with it mean that when Mo is this hot, it’s just over. 44 points in 40 minutes on 26 shots, for a TS% of 82%. DO YOU SEE HOW PATHETIC IT IS THAT WE ACTUALLY LOST WHEN LEBRON PUT UP MORE POINTS ON A BETTER PERCENTAGE?

But anyways, the breakdown. 17 of his 18 baskets were on jump shots, and if you look at the shot chart you can see the tight clustering that accompanies a go-to move: the Suns denied the middle and gave him the wings off the screen-roll, where Mo was content to pull up and drain the shots all night long, and a 7-9 performance from deep is never bad. What’s amazing is that Mo missed as many free throws (1-3) as threes in this one. Please email me the next time somebody scores 44 on 80%+ TS with 3 of their points coming on layups or free throws. This may be the best perimeter game in the NBA right here. Oh, and 7 assists for Mo.

LeBron had almost a perfectly average night, with 26, 6, and 6 on 59% TS. 4-11 on jumpers, a departure from last night’s 8-13 performance with 4 threes, but he continued to show the better-looking stroke, although he bricked some wide-open shots very, very badly, which suggests he’s not quite confident with it yet-I pray he keeps up with his jumper over the All-Star break, because it actually does look like he’s close to really figuring something out. Oh, who am I kidding.

Andy continues to show signs of life, with a 6-8 performance and 5 boards in 21 minutes. He’s really an energy guy.

Bagel for Z. Yikes. The All-Star break is coming at the right time for the big fella.

Also enjoying a tasty bagel was JJ Hickson, who couldn’t get anything in 14 minutes. With him and Wally combining to go 4-16 in the game, I’m thinking it’ll be tricky to turn them into A’Mar’E StouDem-ir’e.

Wally: -14. Boobie: +25. That we were that much better with a guy who went 3-7 and does nothing well other than shoot on the floor is a little disturbing.

Bullets Of Randomness:

After watching our bigs brick mid-range Js and fumble passes around the basket and fail to make cuts these last couple games, my gift to myself is that I’m going to entertain an Amare pipe dream until the deadline passes, REASONABILITY BE DAMNED. As for e.e. stoudemire, you can see how he struggles without Nash and shooters around him-he doesn’t make very strong moves standing still in traffic and isn’t very confident with his left, so he tosses up a lot more Andy-like slop off-balance than somebody as talented as him should. The numbers bear this out-he went from 62% on “close” shots last season to 52% on the same shots this season.

Still, his athleticism, hands, mid-range J, and ability to run the floor have me absolutely drooling. God, we’d be an offensive juggernaut with him next to LeBron. And do you really want me to believe that he’d be worse defensively than Ben Wallace is offensively? Plus, MB and his system are known for turning players like this around: Z, Mo, and even LeBron, Boobie, and Wally have all had reputations as defensive liabilities throughout their career, but MB’s managed to make all of them into elite defenders. And it’s not like @mare doesn’t have the talent to be one. I’ll stop kidding myself now. 

The 9-year old in me died a little inside when Shaq had a quiet 11 in 38 minutes. I barely noticed him out there. 

How sweet was LeBron drawing a charge? 

I’m keeping this recap relatively simple because I like that this was an easy win, and I’ll see everybody after the all-star break. If you have ideas for what All-Star related content you’d like to see here over the break, don’t be afraid to give a holler or a comment.

Thing of the Game:

“German Studies” by the Breeders. Sidekick steps up and does it himself. I’m not posting “Cannonball,” because that song is sacred to me and will not be posted after a regular-season win.

Recap: Let’s Talk About This.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

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Overview: LeBron James scored 47 points and the Cavs lost with .4 seconds left on a foul call after tying the game with .8 seconds left on a foul call. The Cavs have their first losing streak of the season. 

Cavs-Related Bullets:

This may have been LeBron James’ best game of the season, and top-3 regular season games of his career. Let’s go over it:

He scored 47 points to go with 7 boards and 4 assists.

He went 13-14 from the line, 4-7 from three, and 8-13 on jumpers for an overall line of 15-21 and a TS% of 84%. 

He absolutely neutralized Danny Granger, following him for much of the game and forcing him into a 5-18 performance.

LeBron James: 47 points, 84% TS. People not LeBron James: 48 points, 37.5% TS. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY PATHETIC AND INEXCUSABLE. 

Full disclosure: I was at Staples working a Laker game for SLAM, so I knew the outcome before I watched the game on archive. I was expecting to find that, like in the Knicks game, the game was ultimately kept close because LeBron was dominating the ball and killing all semblance of offensive flow. Watching the tape, that’s just not what happened. Absolutely nobody showed up to play tonight except LeBron. Not one player. 

With Delonte out and not getting the ball from side to side and Mo not really being a natural playmaker, a lot of times the offense comes down to LeBron driving and shooters getting open looks off the drives he doesn’t finish himself, whether it be a three-pointer from one of the many on the team or Z’s signature mid-range shot. So guess what happens when people not named LeBron go 2-14 from deep and Z goes 2-10 from midrange, all of them on good looks? The offense sucks.

And unlike in New York, LeBron was trying to give the offense space to breathe, making a total of one drive in the first six minutes of the game and spending much of the third quarter being passive and trying to get some semblance of offensive motion going. Nothing happened. Mo finished with exactly zero assists. Ben can’t seem to get into a flow. Andy finally played with some energy and shot 40% from the line. JJ

Hickson had one beautiful finish off a LeBron penetration, but that was it as he only played 5 minutes, with MB deciding to keep him out of this game thanks to his missed box-outs against Lamar Odom, a clear example of putting in the stoplight after the kid gets killed. By the way, him and LeBron had the only positive +/- ratings of the night, with the Cavs gaining 4 points in JJ’s 5 minutes and losing 8 points in the 7 minutes LeBron sat. 

Oh, and LeBron’s 7 turnovers? Most of them were passes flying through open men’s hands, bigs turning their heads, or guards starting to go backdoor and stopping. Oh, and if you don’t believe that the Cavs missed on a play when LeBron set up a 7-3 center with a standing shot inside of the no-charge area, you didn’t watch this game. This was the most comically inept offensively I have ever seen one team play. 

I’d love to give you some genius, sportswriter-y contrarian overlooked bit of brilliance as to how this box score reflects something other than a great player playing absolutely phenominal basketball while his supporting cast robbed him up a win by playing 48 minutes with their thumbs squarely in inconvenient locations. But that’s just not how it went down. LeBron was the brilliant eye of a storm of suck. 

Not only was LeBron hitting his jumpers tonight, his stroke actually looked markedly better than it has-he was elevating with balance instead of flying or shooting a set shot, he was holding his release with both hands, and he wasn’t flying forward at all. All these things happened spontaneously in game 50 of the season. It’s an odd player we’ve found our hopes thrown behind. 

Oh, when you lose by a point, MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE RUN A PICK AND POP FOR A BEN WALLACE 17-FOOT AIRBALL ON THE FIRST POSSESSION. JUST THINKING OUT LOUD HERE.

And it’s not like LeBron wasn’t clutch either, going off for 9 points in the final 2:45 of the game, setting up the game-tying layup with a beautiful assist, and hitting two ice-water free throws to tie the game with .4 seconds left. Call me wildly pessimistic or underslept, but it just seems like there’s always one little twist at the end of a LeBron narrative that opens some kind of window for the whole endeavor to be dismissed entirely. For as many happy endings as he earns, he seems to get precious few. Again, not the best time for objectivity w/r/t this issue. 

About the last play(s)-The foul LeBron got was VERY questionable. Very very very questionable. Granger went pretty close to straight up and LeBron hadn’t touched the ball. I give LeBron props for draining those free throws, but if we had won we might be seeing a fresh round of “LeBron cheats to win” stories in the morning. I don’t think LeBron should have been called for a foul either, but his jump had more slant than Granger’s and with .4 seconds left, we should be able to defend well enough to take the game out of the refs’ hands. I’m not going to blame this one on the refs when there are so many people allegedly on our side screwing us out of the game. 

Bullets Of Randomness:

You know why this recap is going up at 3:00 in the morning? Because I got done watching the game at 2:10, because NBA LEAGUE PASS BROADBAND, YOUR ARCHIVE SYSTEM IS CRAP, IT DOESN’T CUT COMMERCIALS, THE FAST FORWARD SYSTEM IS IMPOSSIBLE, AND IT TAKES FOREVER TO LOAD A GAME WHEN IT’S NOT FREEZING FOR NO REASON. I spent three hours fiddling with that damn player so I could watch us lose like I knew we would with .4 seconds left. 

DON’T LEAVE TROY MURPHY OPEN FROM THREE. THAT IS ALL HE DOES. HE IS THE ONE FOUR IN THIS LEAGUE THAT WALLY CAN GUARD AND YOU PUT BEN WALLACE ON HIM. DONT BLAME THE REFS. 

It might not be your night when Travis Diener can’t miss. 

Nothing really new to note about Granger except for how similar his stroke is to Boobie’s-a little low, forward momentum, needs feet set but doesn’t mind pressure, a rythym shot that goes in a lot. 

That LeBron James pin-back block you’ll see a million times? It kept the Pacers from scoring for literally a second. Every now and then let’s try to get a possession change out of those. 

Thing Of The Game:

Keeping with the Grammy theme: (I know I’ve written more about the Grammys than any sports blog, ever, and most Grammy sites. This is it.) Anyways, this is the Jonas Brothers performing with Stevie Wonder, which is what an 84% 47-point performance by LeBron feels like in a loss. Me and my roomate, when deciding whether or not to fast-forward through this, had one of the most conflicted deliberations in the illustrious history of TiVo. When the Jonas guy says “‘Cmon, Stevie!”, like he’s being cool by treating this old blind guy like he’s cool even though he’s old and look how nice I am to this washed-up guy, that was definitely the Danny Granger foul moment. I briefly considered grabbing a bus on the slim chance that I would be able to hurt that man. Here’s the video.

Did you just die a little inside? THAT’S HOW IT FEELS.

Things To Get You Through A Bad Off-Day

Monday, February 9th, 2009

It’s never fun to suffer through that off-day after a loss, especially when Pavs is now apparently out for 4-6 with an ankle sprain (did Larry Hughes curse the team as he left?) Here are a few quick notes to get some space up:

-The recap will be late tomorrow, as I’ll be going down the street and masquerading as a real reporter for SLAM.

-The Cavs did have a better day than Chris Brown.

-Mostly I’m posting this to put up the thing that saved my day yesterday:

We all know MIA is a C:TB favorite(that’s how we talk here-we don’t have a moment to spare), and even a performance of last summer’s song while she was extremely and uncomfortably pregnant would have been okay. BUT THEN THE STAGE OPENS UP AND THEY’RE DOING SWAGGA LIKE US THE BEST SONG EVER WITH A BLACK AND WHITE FILTER ON AND EVERYONE’S WEARING SUITS AND THROWING DOWN. I thought there was no chance of this-I’m shocked that they let ‘Lil Wayne or Kanye perform without the presence of Estelle or Robin Thicke to cancel out their threat. This was absolutely unbelievable-Paul McCartney came on next and I was let down.

This was also pretty freaking cool:

Fight On, Radiohead. And congratulations, Grammy committee, for making Coldplay your “edgy” choice for us young people. I’m not sure if there’s any major award I don’t hate at this point.

Recap: Fall of The Cavs-tille

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

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Overview:

In a redux of their meeting in Los Angeles, the Lakers survived an early barrage of three-pointers from the Cavs and manhandled them in the second half to take the game. There were few fireworks from LeBron and Kobe, and the game ball ended up going to Lamar Odom, who finished with a season-high 28 points and 17 rebounds. The Cavs lost their first home game since May 1, 2008.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

This is not my favorite day to have a Cavalier blog.

In the first half, the drive-and-kick game was in full effect, with LeBron mostly probing for seams and swinging the ball back out. The passing was crisp around the perimeter and almost all the shots were catch-and-shoots, with Mo, Pavs, and the still-red-hot Wally combining to go 7-10 from deep in the first half and Z going 5-7 on his mid-range jumpers.

In the second half, there just wasn’t any offensive rythym. At all. Delonte being out hurts here, but a lot of it was falling in love with the jumpers that were going down in the first half and not knowing what to do when the looks didn’t go down.

When that happens, normally what the Cavaliers get is LeBron James going to the basket and making a hoop. He’s the best in the league at it, maybe of all time, he shoots 72% from the immediate basket area, it’s the bedrock of this offense of LeBron’s game. So when LeBron goes 2-8 from the immediate basket area, there are going to be huge problems. That’s just it.

Just like in Los Angeles, the Lakers were able to get a wall with their 2nd defender to keep LeBron from getting easy finishes at the rim, and LeBron tried to deal using full-speed bankers or floaters to no avail. The refs weren’t looking to bail him out, either, possibly effected by Phil Jackson’s prior comments on how LeBron “gets away with murder” at home. When that’s not going, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the Cavalier offense collapses upon itself, and that’s what you got tonight. It’s very, very disquieting, because this is the type of defense we’re going to see in the playoffs, which are the only games that really matter at this point, and I’d love to see LeBron implement a better plan of attack when his lanes to the rim aren’t clear-more patience and a go-to move where LeBron gathers and rises rather than flings at full speed would be advisable, as well as more of a mid-range game-16 of his 20 shots were either in the immediate basket area or threes. But in the end, you try to look at the forest and trust the results instead of going insane over one off shooting night.

Andy continues his run of playing really, really terrible basketball, showing absolutely no energy to work angles on offense, which is kinda how he gets points, not showing hard on defense, and staying grounded on rebounds. He’s a hugely important player for this team and needs to show that he’s a guy you can have out there in crunch-time.

Ben’s interior passing-great. Blowing two wide-open dunks: not as great.

Mo Williams on shots that are not threes: 4-15. So maybe a rock-solid mid-range game wouldn’t have kept LeBron from being off tonight.

J.J., YOU GOTTA BOX OUT. That is all.

Bullets Of Randomness:

Fairly quiet night for that Mamba fella, as apparently he was battling a touch of the flu and, more importantly, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol were having an absolute hammer party down low, with Lamar shooting 13-19 from the field and Pau, who looks worlds better when Bynum doesn’t play, directing traffic and getting 6 assists.

Kobe’s off-ball movement in the first quarter to get low catches was an absolute thing of beauty, as were his little mini-jumpers to get the buckets. I think one reason why so many people go with Kobe over LeBron despite the evidence to the contrary is that Kobe’s solved a lot of the problems LeBron has and the difference is evident, while the things LeBron does better than Kobe are either more subtle or a result of pure athletic talent-he just seems like he’s at a further point on his development curve. And that turnaround to end the game was absolutely ridiculous.

Lamar Odom was everywhere. He absolutely made a living in the paint. If Andy’s going to be off in la-la land, bigs with real speed are going to give this team fits. 2 shots for Odom outside the paint. Two. Andy is the guy who’s supposed to keep this from happening.

Well, that about does it. The Lakers are your consensus #1 in the power rankings. They win absolutely nothing. The Cavs have been defeated at home. The MVP race is now debateable.

Thing Of the Game:

Last time the Cavs lost at home, Hillary Clinton was still in the presidential race and, in fact, had primaries still to win. I would end with a song from May 2008 but don’t understand how Billboard rankings work and really don’t want to post “Bleeding Love.” Instead, take this collaboration of Kanye West and Dialated Peoples, because:

We cannot, in fact, go on living this way.

The song is a testament to the power of the collective over the individual and the importance of background players-where the guy with the flute comes through, Andy failed.

The Grammys without Kanye West just don’t feel complete.


Notes And Errata For The Weekend

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Hey folks, just some things to chew on for the weekend to fill in this 3-day gap in between games:

I can’t really sum up any righteous anger over Ray Allen getting the injury-replacement all-star spot over Mo Williams, mostly because Allen was a huge snub the first time around; he’s been Boston’s best offensive player, he’s shooting a career-high 63.2% TS to lead all guards while scoring 18 a game. I’d actually put him in there instead of Pierce. I think Rashard Lewis was an EXTREMELY questionable choice over Mo, and there’s certainly a strong case for Mo over Devin Harris, but this actually wasn’t all that bad.

My feeling is that Zydrunas was going to be a shoo-in for an all-star spot until he got hurt, so Mo would have been the 3rd All-Star instead of the 2nd, which makes the snubbing a little easier to take. Also, I don’t want    the first non-LBJ all-star in the Cavs era to be an injury replacement.

I do have some righteous anger stored up over this crap with taking away the triple-double. WHAT IS THAT NOISE.

-The call was not clear. It was borderline. Ben has about a million back-taps per game that get awarded as rebounds to the player who caught them. Possession was far from clear.

-Even so, when was the last time the league went to the trouble of looking at and overruling a completely meaningless rebound and changing the stat sheet? This is something that would have dried up in two days if they’d let it be. This is some stick-up-the you-know stuff.

-The annoying thing is that this has no effect on how impressive the game actually was except for the meeting of a completely arbitrary milestone-rebounds are the easiest part of that line.

-I mentioned this in the original recap, but it’s double-annoying since LeBron was hoovering down rebounds early and could have finished with easily 13 or 14, but then started “sticking” to Al Harrington and giving up on rebounds until the very end of the game. And his last-second dive into the crowd while fighting off a teammate to grab a meaningless rebound was not exactly the high point of LBJ’s game.

-And now people have something else to “knock” LeBron with that has no bearing on his actual ability as a basketball player. It’s a meaningless thing that the league absolutely made into a story where there didn’t need to be one, and is absolutely a way for the always-savvy Stern to keep LeBron in the news for the weekend to build intrigue for the LeBron-Kobe game on Sunday. This is something that should have been let go, especially without definite video evidence. It’s a brutal microscope he’s under.

-Anyways, hopefully all this stuff will get simpler on Sunday. I’m excited.

-Grammies: Rooting for ‘Lil Wayne and M.I.A, completely fine with Robert Plant and Alison Krause or Radiohead winning, am completely ambivalent towards “chasing pavement,” and for some reason am vehemently rooting against Coldplay even though I like this album. And for the love of god, no Jonas Brothers.

Now, for the weekend, enjoy link to a clip (damn you, disabled embedding) of adorable Latin babies set to the music of Tito Puente. Actually, it’s a song from “Real World” by a fairly decent band who is kind of exactly the same as Paramore, but with a lead singer who’s legitimately attractive and a lead singer in a rock band instead of a chick who’s attractive because she’s the lead singer in a rock band. Also, it’s important that I experience this band without Chet from the Real World, who I hate more than any Real World character of all time, ever. He is an unforgiveable human being. I more or less put that link there to explain how much I hate Chet. I think Chet was responsible for overturning that rebound.

Recap: Forget 2010. LeBron’s about 50-10(11).

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

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Profiles In Things That are the right thing to say while also being completely transparent white lies:

“I’m here to find my soulmate.”

-Brett Michaels, Rock Of Love

“[Sarah Palin] knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America. … And, uh, she also happens to represent, be governor of a state that’s right next to Russia.” ―John McCain on Palin’s foreign policy experience, interview with WCSH-6, Portland, OR, Sept. 12, 2008

“Hey, man. I just go out and play my game,” LeBron James said after leading Cleveland to a 101-83 win over Toronto on Tuesday. “I’m not a video game where you can just expect me to go out there and score 60 or 70. I play the game to win the game. I’m not into individual accolades. Kobe Bryant’s performance was unbelievable. I watched every second of it. It’s not about individuals in this league.

“I’m not trying to outdo Kobe or anybody on their team.” (Courtesy Of AP)

Of course not, LeBron.

Overview:

Playing with a seven-man rotation due to Delonte West being injured, Sasha Pavlovic having the flu, Eric Snow being retired, Trey Johnson being a D-League call-up in his 2nd game with the team, and Darnell Jackson being terrible, the Cavs managed to squeeze out a win over a Knicks team with no quit in them and an absolutely unconscious Al Harrington, who…

LEBRON JUST WENT OFF FOR 52, 10, AND 11 IN NEW YORK CITY IN A TIGHT GAME. THAT’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

SPECIAL LEBRON SECTION!!!!!!!!!!

LeBron does know that going to New York in 2010 doesn’t mean he gets to play against the Knicks’ defense every night, right?

By the numbers:

LeBron becomes the first player to score 50 points and record a triple-double since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In 1975. Jordan never did it. Magic Neither.

The True Shooting Percentage on the Night was 62%.

LeBron went 10-22 (11-22 effectively) on his jumpers, for 22 of his 52, with 16 more coming from the line (where he shot 84%), and the other 14 from the immediate basket area, where he went 7-11.

LeBron Added Two Blocks For Good Measure.

The Experience Itself:

For the second night in a row (did we mention that LeBron was on the second night of a back-to-back), LeBron came out of the gate in absolute destruction mode, with LeBron running off picks to start the game instead of starting off the ball and letting Mo establish threes, consistently getting matched up with David Lee on the switch and absolutely abusing him for a thundrous dunk and 8 free throws in the first quarter, or just backing him up and using the space to hit his jumper, which was in full effect in the first half, as he hit 7 of the 10 jump shots he tried in the first.

LeBron must’ve watched Kobe and actually paid attention, because he was using the extra space and remaining patient with his jumper rather than trying to go at full speed and trying to improvise a 20-foot jumper like he does a layup, which he will do. Quentin Richardson’s “Hey David, deal with this for me” defensive attitude allowed LeBron to get the looks he wanted on the perimeter, and if LeBron’s shot is on a 6-11 guy’s not going to stop him from filling it up.

Oh, and when New York tried to load up on LeBron he’d swing it to a wide-open shooter. There weren’t a lot of fancy under-the-basket whips for dunks in this one, just quick, unexpected passes to keep the defense from just standing around and watching LeBron. (With the notable exception of an end-of-half three-quarter court football strike to Ben Wallace, who the Knicks decided to leave alone under their basket. Also, a clutch lob to Z for a layup over a fronting David Lee was very nice.)

The first half, which LeBron ended with 28 points, was just unfair. He was absolutely raining down sulfur. He’d either make the shot or just go right past you and get some free throws. There was absolutely no answer. If LeBron’s jumper is at a 70% clip and you’re not going to make an effort to get him into any kind of trap or have a second defender challenge him until he gets to the paint, you’re just screwed. It was one of those moments where basketball actually becomes too easy for LeBron, and you can forget there’s even a game being played-you just see him trying to figure out what’s possible to do on a basketball court, actually being so good as an individual he starts functioning at a level beyond conventional team play.

He came out in the third quarter just as hot, firing in three consecutive jumpers to start the half. At this point, he had 34 points. After that, he did not hit another jumper. Not one. He missed his final 8 jumpers of the game. AND HE SCORED 18 MORE POINTS. WHEN EVERYONE KNEW HE WAS DRIVING. This was absoultely ridiculous to watch. It didn’t have the virtuosic quality of Kobe rising up and dropping jumpers over people’s heads or making them leave their feet and foul him 22 feet from the basket because he was thinking three moves ahead. It was just pure power and will, flying through a defense that simply had no way to keep him from getting to the basket. (Also, they didn’t really like to bring help-side defenders on him) He always had the angle they didn’t, could explode to where they weren’t looking, go through who they had, make the last move. It’s not being able to score from anywhere on the court-it’s being so good with the ball on the floor that no part of the court can be sealed off despite the normal rules of an individual engaging a defense.

It’s not just brains vs. brawn with LeBron and Kobe-it’s a different kind of athletic genius. Kobe’s got so much variety and discipline in his game and he plans every action so meticulously-he’s all about writing the script. LeBron’s a much more adaptive player mentally-he starts with a simple goal in mind and can see things happening so well he can actively change up his plans at full-speed so perfectly and with so many permutations of unstoppable force that he nearly always gets there. It’s Spider vs. Lion. It’s amazing to watch.

Very Quickly, LeBron’s Game vs. Kobe’s Game:

I feel like there’s going to be discourse on this subject so I might as well do my best to add a good take on it: I don’t think there’s much use trying to decide who was better. It’s an utterly moot point. Kobe Scored More on a better TS (A great 62% vs a Wholy Crap 71%), but LeBron generated more offense if you factor in assists (74 pts vs. 68) LeBron made more plays for his teammates, but Pau was able to get enough room to score 31 while none of LeBron’s teammates could break 15. LeBron got 10 rebounds to Kobe’s 0, but off rebounding nights from Kobe are permissable.  Kobe got to score in a victory parade final quarter where the points didn’t matter, but had to sit the game’s final minutes. There’s just no clear-cut way to say one had a better game. What we do know is that the Knicks blow at defense.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

Having LeBron dominating right out of the gate did seem to keep Mo Williams from getting into any kind of groove, as he finished with only 9 points (on 12 shots) and 2 assists.

WALLY SZCZERBIAK DOMINATION MACHINE. 12 points on 9 shots, 13 Boards (A Team-High: Ben Wallace Had 1), hitting two threes, and playing 40 minutes? You can’t stop this guy! Seriously, though, he’s proven himself a role player with real value and one who should only be shopped for a very strong offer.

Hickson outscores Andy 4-1 despite playing 16 less minutes; Andy’s funk continues.

LeBron actually could’ve finished with 14 or 15 rebounds in this one if he didn’t spen much of the second half doing his best to guard Al Harrington and often “sticking” to him on the perimeter instead of diving in the paint on penetration and putting himself in position to get the rebound. For a while in the fourth, I was afraid he wouldn’t get the 10 boards, which would have been a mini-tragedy. After putting himself in perfect position for a missed three only to see it air-ball into the hands of Wilson Chandler, LeBron finally flew out of bounds on the final play to get the 10th board, exploding to the ball to keep Boobie from grabbing it, who almost got himself traded to DKS Serbia. I think he wanted the triple.

Bullets of Randomness:

I love Clyde Frazier. He is a national treasure. For all the opposing broadcaster love for LeBron, few of them put in the necessary effort to put their adulation in couplets. I want Clyde to critique my short stories. “It was very niiiiice, with this char-act-er arc, I liked how he’s decidin’ while you’re providin’…context. I think the symbolism here was…resplendent.” I’m really not being sarcastic. Clyde and Jalen Rose are the two NBA talking heads who always seem really happy and satisfied while they’re doing their jobs, like they just ate thanksgiving dinner right before they went on the air.

Wow, Al Harrington was absolutely unconscious. 39 points on 75% TS? He just could not miss when he faced up and went to work. 0 assist


Multimedia Madness: Hear My Voice

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Lot of stuff happening on CTB today and we welcome all of you-in case interested, I appeared on ESPN’s NBA Today podcast this morning talking LeBron stuff. You get to hear my voice and hear me say about 10,000 words in the first thirty seconds, and I think I acquitted myself decently. Go boldly forth and take solace in the sonorous voice of your leader.