Thursday, January 31, 2008


You can have Kobe, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett. You can have them all. We'll take Lebron and call it a day. Last night, the King put on another 4th quarter performance that showed why he is the premier player in the league and the front runner for MVP. The Cavaliers, suddenly playing once again with Anderson Varajao in the post and Sasha Pavlovic on the perimeter, went into Portland shorthanded and trailed most of the night. Then came the fourth quarter, also know as Lebron time.

(SIDE NOTE: I didn't see more than 10 minutes of the game because of KU/K-State). With nobody else able to hit the broad side of a barn, Lebron took over. It was a 81-70 with four minutes to go when he went to work. He nailed three straight threes, with a Drew Gooden jumper mix in between, and in a minute and a half, the score was tied. Trailing by one with four seconds left and the entire building knowing who was going to shoot the ball, Lebron drove to the hole, passed three Blazers, and hit a sick reverse layup with 0.3 seconds left to win it. In total, he scored 17 in the fourth quarter, 37 for the game. He wa sthe only Cavalier in double figures. After completing the Cavs league high 18th come from behind win, Lebron said "I just do what I do."

"Obviously, LeBron was terrific," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "He put us on his back tonight. We couldn't make a basket to save our lives tonight. But LeBron put us on his back. He did what superstars do. He did what he's capable of doing. That was fun to watch. It was fun to be a part of." Said Portland coach Nate McMillan, "Even though we did a pretty good job early in defending LeBron, he made the clutch threes and the winning drive to the basket, just like great players do."

We love finding stories from a national pespective on Lebron. Like this one from
True Hoop:

LeBron James is good. He has some of the best attributes of Michael Jordan (getting to rim when it matters) and Shaquille O'Neal (significantly bigger annd stronger than his contemporaries). The only other player I know of in today's NBA who gets layups in crunch time -- Brandon Roy -- was unable to do so last night because ... because ... Roy was just too small. He might be 6-6, but he's tiny, next to James. Can't get over him or around him without some super maneuvering. You get the feeling it's almost not fair -- that same feeling you used to have watching "tiny" guys like Tim Duncan go against Shaquille O'Neal in his prime. (David Thorpe was recently in Chicago, catching up with a lot of NBA players. He asked them who they thought was the strongest player in the league. Thorpe voted for Craig Smith. One guy said Dwight Howard. Everybody else said LeBron James. A wing player!)

Leaky Theory on Lebron - Johnny Ludden, Yahoo Sports

Eight months ago everyone said the same about James. With Cleveland trailing Detroit by two late in last season's Eastern Conference finals opener, James drove into the lane and fired a pass to Donyell Marshall in the corner. Marshall's three-point attempt missed, the Cavaliers lost and James was criticized for not taking the shot himself. When Cleveland lost the next game after James shot – and missed – the criticism grew.

James' shaky free-throw shooting last season also contributed to the belief that he couldn't play well under pressure. He was too eager to pass, his critics said, too eager to give up the responsibility of deciding the game's outcome.

James went a long way toward retiring that tag with his 48-point performance in Game 5 of those same conference finals. After spending the offseason improving his jump shot, he looks even more comfortable with the ball in his hands and the clock ticking down. As for fourth-quarter production: Sunday was Cleveland's league-high 17th victory when trailing by at least nine points with less than eight minutes left.

Last Night's Performance Wowed the locals as well:

Lebron Scorches Blazers - Brian Windhorst, Akron Beacon-Journal

When the fourth quarter comes, LeBron James' blood turns cold.

He did it again Wednesday, if you can believe it, to break thousands more hearts in a crazy and hostile environment. Saving his best for the very end, James led another comeback and delivered another dagger.

Sprinting past rival star Brandon Roy, James smacked in a smooth left-handed layup with 0.3 seconds left to get the Cavs to an 84-83 victory in the gulag that is the Rose Garden. And just to make sure the vanquishing was complete, he stole the inbounds pass to finish game.

This time he had 37 points, and 17 of them came in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back 3-pointers that erased a six-point Blazers' lead with three minutes left. He did it despite suffering a turned right ankle and jammed left pinky finger during the game, but there was no limp in the effort.

The Cavs (25-19) have now won 13-of-16 games, including in Dallas, San Antonio, Los Angeles and Portland, where the Blazers had been 18-4. Overall they have won six straight games on the road and made a lot of believers along the way as James' campaign for Most Valuable Player award continues.

Cavalier Aptitude - Jason Quick, The Portland Oregonian

It was another incredible comeback at the Rose Garden on Wednesday night, only this time it wasn't Brandon Roy and the Trail Blazers providing the heroics.

Roy and the Blazers got a dose of their own medicine as they watched LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers do exactly what the Blazers have done to so many opponents this season -- make pressure-packed plays to steal a game down the stretch.

James, the NBA's leading scorer, scored 17 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter, and the Cavaliers, who lead the NBA in fourth-quarter comebacks, closed the game on a 14-2 run to stun the Blazers 84-83 in front of 20,501, the ninth consecutive Rose Garden sellout.

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