Friday, June 01, 2007

One For The DVD Archives

With 7:48 left in the 4th Quarter, Ilgauskas hit a lay-up to put the Cavaliers up 79-76. At the time LeBron James had 19 points. What followed was so unbelievable that words will not do it justice.

James Jump Shot – 6:05 4th
James Lay-up – 3:02 4th
Gooden made free throw 2:49 4th
James 3pt – 2:17 4th
James Dunk – 0:31 4th
James Dunk – 0:09 4th
James 2 free throws - 4:47 OT
James Dunk – 3:31 OT
James free throw – 2:54 OT
James 2 free throws – 1:17 OT
James Jump Shot – 0:33 OT
James Jump Shot – 4:31 2OT
James Jump Shot – 1:51 2OT
James 3 pt Jump Shot – 1:14 2OT
James Driving Lay Up - :02 2OT

He finished with 48 points. He scored 29 of the last 30 Cleveland points.

He personally willed that team to victory. It was a pleasure to just see it.

Michael Jordan would be proud of that

When the smoke cleared at The Palace Thursday, the Pistons were witnesses to one of the greatest individual performances anybody has seen perhaps since Michael Jordan retired.
And that performance has them on the brink of elimination for the second straight season.

LeBron James scored 48 points, including his team's last 25 and an unprecedented 29 of their last 30.

His last basket was a layup -- after he had shredded the Pistons' defense like it was paper -- that lifted the Cleveland Cavaliers to a dramatic, 109-107 double-overtime victory and a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Cavs can earn their first trip to the NBA Finals with a win on Saturday.

"Just for the simple fact that we won the ballgame means more than anything," James said. "If I did everything I did tonight and we lost, it means nothing. So the win is the most important thing for us, and we are one more win from getting to our goal."

James scored nine points in the final three minutes of regulation to erase an eight-point Pistons lead. The last four points came on virtually uncontested dunks.

In the first overtime, he scored nine points and had the Cavs up, 100-96, with 33.7 seconds left.

The Pistons, on free throws by Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups, sent the game into a second overtime.

And after a clutch three-point play by Chris Webber, they were up 107-104 with 1:28 left in the second overtime.

James, undaunted, drained a three-pointer. Then, after a miss by Richard Hamilton and another by Wallace, James patiently wove his way down the lane for the game-winner.

"The fact that I was able to will my team to victory is definitely pleasing to me," James said. "This is definitely a big win, one of the biggest wins in Cavaliers' franchise history, for me and my teammates, it's definitely the biggest win."

The 48 points were the most ever scored by a Pistons' opponent at home.

"LeBron did it all," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "He always does it all for us. And, you know, everybody keeps asking for more and he is willing. He just keeps giving us more."

Pistons are in trouble

LeBron James unleashed a mighty shot and a mighty dunk, and then another, and another, and another. It was crazy and stunning and probably historic. And with that finishing flurry, surely one of the most amazing the NBA has ever seen, he pushed the Pistons to a truly bitter brink.

The Pistons have teetered so long against the Cavaliers, you really can't be surprised. James has risen so quickly, conjuring all the great superstar performances in playoff history, there might be no stopping him now.

This was a remarkable thriller, and in the end, it was all James, with no defense from the Pistons. His layup right through the Pistons with 2.2 seconds left gave the Cavs a 109-107 double-overtime shocker at The Palace Thursday night.

James and the Cavs attacked and attacked and wore the Pistons down. And the brutal fact is -- he might have worn them out -- with a knockout looming. James finished with 48 points, including Cleveland's last 25, and it took that type of effort to subdue the Pistons, who battled gamely.

The Cavs have won three straight tight games and lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 Saturday night in Cleveland. It's the same pattern as a year ago, when the Pistons rallied to take the series. But this is different because James looks so much different. It's hard to imagine even a Michael Jordan classic topping what James did, charging into the lane for dunks or stepping outside for jumpers.

"We threw everything we had at him, we just couldn't stop him," Chauncey Billups said. "That was a great, great game. It was unbelievable. He was hitting everything."

The Pistons couldn't hang on to a late lead but this one was in danger all night. If the Pistons have a last gasp left, they'd better summon it quickly, and you know the theme by now -- it will not be easy.

How do the Pistons rebound from this?

How does James top this? He scored 29 of his points in the fourth quarter and the overtimes.

"He saw lanes and he attacked," Flip Saunders said. "He was in a zone. He hit some phenomenal shots. We tried to stop him, get it out of his hands, and he re-attacked. We'll have to take a look and definitely try to do something different next time."

The Pistons were in mood to figure it out after this one. Rasheed Wallace was angry and Billups was stunned and the Pistons looked dazed.

They are in trouble, huge trouble, and you sense they know it. Sure, they partly put themselves here, but make no mistake, James shoved them here with an astonishing, pressure-packed performance.

True Hoop blogs Game 5

• Chauncey Billups nailed a three-pointer early in the shot clock, off the dribble. If you're going to call him on the shot selection in the last game, you have to call him on this too. Shot selection can not be judged after you see whether or not the shot goes in.

• Billups then shot a leaning three-pointer at the buzzer in a tie game. A high school coach somewhere is irate.

• Jason Maxiell hesitated closing on LeBron James when he drove the lane and made the game-winning layup with 2.2 seconds left in the second overtime.

• LeBron James misses some bad shots. But he makes a lot of them too.

• People have known what LeBron James is like on a regular night. Now, however, he has been facing extraordinary pressure. All the criticism after Games 1 and 2. The Conference Finals. Down 0-2. Is he the kind of guy who gets better or worse under that kind of pressure. This has been our first real chance to find out. I bet most of us thought he would wilt a little. But that would be wrong.

• If I were the Pistons, I wouldn't obsess about stopping LeBron James next time. I'd be worried about how hard it has been for the Pistons to get buckets when they need them. Cleveland's defense is looking very good.

TNT’s loss - Steve Kerr takes a GM job with the Suns

Steve Kerr will be hired as president and general manager of the Phoenix Suns, a person with knowledge of the hiring said Thursday.

Kerr can't officially take the job until he completes his obligations as an analyst for TNT during the NBA playoffs. He is expected to be introduced at a news conference next week, said a person close to the situation who asked not to be identified because the official announcement had not been made.

Kerr is a close friend of Suns owner Robert Sarver and owns a small piece of the team. He would replace Mike D'Antoni, who holds the titles of general manager and head coach. The move will allow D'Antoni to concentrate on coaching.

D'Antoni will keep the title of executive vice president of basketball operations but will report to Kerr, The Arizona Republic reported on its Web site Thursday.
Kerr was part of the TNT crew at the Eastern Conference finals game in Detroit. He left the court at halftime with a cell phone in his ear.

"I've had conversations with the Phoenix Suns regarding opportunities within their organization," Kerr said through TNT. "I do not plan to make a decision on my future until after the conclusion of the Eastern Conference finals."

Rangers disastrous May ends …with another loss.

On Thursday, the Rangers left behind May with some impressive numbers.
Impressive, only if you are into disasters.
After being unable to overcome another huge deficit, Texas fell 9-5 to Seattle. The score was insignificant. It’s all the flotsam and jetsam from piling on another loss that gets into historical context.

For example:

• A 20-loss month: It was the first month with 20 losses since June, 2003, the third month of Buck Showalter’s first season. The Rangers had lost 20 games in a single month nine previous times, never in May.

• A 105-loss pace: At the one-third point of the season (54 games), the Rangers are 19-35. Multiply that by three and you get a 57-105 record. That would tie the worst mark in franchise history in 1973. The Rangers’ 54-game record matches the worst in club history, also in 1973.

"When you are going bad, even when you get something going right, it seems like something else goes bad," manager Ron Washington said. "When you aren’t playing well, something else breaks down. I believe in these guys, and I believe we’ll finish better than where we are."

• A 6-plus rotation ERA: Thanks to the seven runs Vicente Padilla allowed in three innings, the Rangers’ rotation rose from 6.28 to 6.44. Among the 10 highest full-season rotation ERAs since the stat was first kept in 1957, only four had higher marks at the same point. Detroit, which set the record at 6.64 in 1996, was at 7.06 at the end of May.

By the way, Padilla is a perfectly average Rangers starter. His ERA through May: 6.45.

"Sometimes to me it just looks like he loses focus," Washington said.

• A five-run deficit: Seattle scored three times during a 43-pitch first inning. The Mariners scored four more times in the third. It’s the 21st time this season the Rangers have trailed a game by at least five runs. In each of the three losses in the first four games of this AL West road trip, the Rangers have trailed by at least five runs.

Teixeira talks about rumors

Teixeira said he's had family, friends, teammates and opponents ask him where he might be by the deadline.

"When people talk to you about it a lot, you can't help but think about it," said Teixeira, who played in his 500th consecutive game Thursday. "But it doesn't affect me at all. I'm not going to let it become a distraction. My goal now is the same as they were going into spring training: to help this team win."

"Mark's an important part of this team and community. Beyond that, there's really not much for me to say," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We're being asked to respond to media speculation which I don't like to do. We're certainly not going to do that all summer – it's an unnecessary distraction to the club.

There have been no substantive talks with Teixeira's representative, Scott Boras.
Teixeira said he has not given much consideration to the possibility of a trade or where he'll be playing in the second half of 2007 or 2008.

"I don't really worry because it's out of my control," Teixeira said. "I will play the same way I always do no matter who I play for."

Sturm translates Teixeira’s thoughts: “Get me out of here!”

Ottawa looks to Edmonton for inspiration

Well, once upon a time there was this hockey team from another Canadian city, and like the Senators, it was their first visit to a Stanley Cup final in a long, long time. They lost the first two games, too, only worse. They were shellacked 5-0 in Game 2 -- not 1-0 like the Senators were on Wednesday night in Anaheim.

That team limped on to its plane for the long flight home for Game 3, just the way the Senators did yesterday. But at least Ottawa's limp was only figurative. This other team, their goalie was really limping, having blown out his knee in Game 1. He was done for the series.

If ever a series was completely cooked after two games, that was the feeling a year ago when the bottom fell right out of the Edmonton Oilers' Stanley Cup run down in Raleigh, N.C. Three days into their dream final, the No. 8 seed was down to two lives and its No. 3 goalie, with starter Dwayne Roloson on crutches.

You could scarcely find anyone in Alberta who thought a comeback was likely, let alone the rest of Canada. But Edmonton did it, riding backup Jussi Markkanen to a Game 7 finale in Raleigh.

Carolina's empty-net goal eventually sealed the Oilers' fate last spring, but the left-for-dead Oilers had at least accomplished this: They skated out for the third period of Game 7 trailing 2-1, a scenario the Ottawa Senators would dearly love to find themselves in 10 days from now.

How did Edmonton do it?

"We thought, going into the series, that we were capable of winning one or both of the first two on the road," Oilers captain Jason Smith said over the phone from The Big E.

"So you've also got to be confident enough to regroup going into Game 3. It's part of being a good, confident team. Talk to the guys from Ottawa -- if you're a member of that team, I guarantee you, you believe you can compete and get back into that series.

"It's all about keeping composed, keeping confident as a team. If you do that, you'll get your opportunities."

Keeping a team composed, however, requires rock-solid leadership. Let's assume Ottawa has that.

But it's also handy to have conquered past adversities. With three five-game series so far this spring, this 0-2 deficit is clearly new territory for the Senators.

Captain Crosby

Sidney Crosby already was the Penguins' undisputed leader and best player.

It has been a foregone conclusion that he would ascend to the captain's role, likely well before he was capable of growing a respectable playoff beard.

As an alternate captain, he has had the authority to talk to the referees on behalf of the team, just like a captain.

And he said yesterday he is someone who leads by example and does not expect big changes now that the "C" has been sewn onto his jersey. That hardly means the 19-year-old center undervalues his new title. Consider that Crosby mulled the decision to become team captain for months.

Michel Therrien, who stripped veteran John LeClair of an alternate captaincy and gave it to Crosby shortly after he took over as coach in December 2005, tossed out the idea to Crosby a year ago, after Crosby's stellar rookie season. Crosby knew he wasn't ready.

This past January, Penguins general manager Ray Shero made a more impassioned offer. Crosby still knew he wasn't ready.

Only after he finished his second pro season, became the youngest player to win an NHL scoring championship and got to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time did Crosby accept the role he has been destined to fill since he was selected first overall in the 2005 draft.

LeBron last night

Kevin Garnett in Asia – curious to say the least


arthur said...

Baby Jesus.

Andy D. said...

A few months ago, Dan said on air that he felt sorry for the Cavs because they are wasting Lebron's greatness because he is surrounded by pretty much, dudes you can find at any Best Buy warehouse that want to ball. I agree'd with him then and I still do now. But there's a difference with this versus with KG in Minnesota, for example. KG is surrounded by church league players too, but he is kickin it at his pad right now, Lebron James is about to play in the Finals.
Lebron's performance last night was the greatest single performance in the last 25 years because of these points:
-EVERYONE that is alive including Detroit's starting five, knows that he is going to be the go to EVERYTIME down and he still dominates
-I can't reiterate enough how horrible his surrounding cast is
-He did it on the road
-He did it by extending himself to 2 OT's

That was unreal. Lebron James: Man

Jimmy Hinton said...

There is not another Cav in that shot above. Not in the entire frame...

MK said...

Lebron handed the Pistons their taints. All while overcoming incompetent coaching and teammates. Sickness. That said, it would take quite a performance from him to beat the Spurs, they seem to solid to let one guy beat them.

Andy D. said...

MK.. well said.

This series is featuring 2 coaches that are overrated. Mike Jones (is that his name?) is misusing timeouts, and is in over his head and on the other side, Flip Saunders is about to, once again, get his team bounced from the playoffs by a team that is far underneath them talent wise. Wow. With that Piston team full of experienced warriors to be farting around on the court with no passion... unacceptable.

Spurs in 5 no matter what.

Silence Productions said...

Le-TRON the machine can no longer be stopped.

MK said...

If you are building a team from scratch around Lebron, who would you want if you're the GM? First name that comes to mind for me is Kidd. Tyson Chandler would probably be a good fit at the 5. Thoughts?

Robert said...

If you were building the team around LBJ from scratch, you'd probably want to go with Chris Paul over Jason Kidd.