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.
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.