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

February 4th, 2009 by John Krolik

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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


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