Have we learned nothing from Spike Lee and Chris Bosh’s girlfriend?
You don’t poke a bear with a stick. Particularly not when that bear is in the zone.
Says the aforementioned, metaphorical bear â€” one LeBron James â€” about his picnic-basket-stealing, forest-fire-preventing, here-and-there-and-everywhere-bouncing, too-cold-too-hot-just-right-porridge-eating, 1986-Super-Bowl-dominating, Man-vs-Wild-surviving (I can keep going if you want) zone:
“You just feel like every shot you put up is going in, no matter the difficulty or whatever the case,” James said. “There’s nobody that can guard you at that point in time. All you have to do is get to that spot you want to get to.”
“Crazy shots,” Chicago’s Derrick Rose said. “It makes you want to be in his shoes the kind of stuff he’s hitting.”
Each one seemed personal too. Because after each made jumper in front of the Bulls bench — and there were seven — James turned and glared at the Bulls reserves as he backpedaled down the court. A few words were shared, but mainly a glare.
“They were talking the whole game,” James said. “Every time I caught the ball over there, they were daring me to shoot the ball. Telling me I couldn’t shoot, or ‘You can’t make jump shots so take the shot.’ So that’s what I did.”
His final stat sheet read: 40 points (on 16/23 shooting), 8 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 2 turnovers. He scored 15 of those in the 4th quarter, including 11 straight for Cleveland in the closing minutes, during which time he stared down defenders, did his little tap-step, Savion Glover routine while holding the ball and buried jumper after jumper over whichever Chicago defender Vinny Del Negro decided should look stupid. It was pretty special stuff, even if none of the jumpers were particularly good shots.
Someone on Twitter who seems credible but whose name I can’t recall also mentioned that this was only the third time in NBA history that someone had gone for 40/8/8 on 65%+ shooting in a Playoff game. I’m not going to fact check that claim, so take it for what it’s worth. But I’m sure it doesn’t happen regularly. (He also did this, which actually does happen fairly regularly.)
Jamesian theatrics aside, the Bulls actually played a pretty good game and would have had a good shot to steal home court advantage if Bron Bron didn’t, ya know, go all Bron Bron on their heads. They only coughed up 4 turnovers compared to 14 in Game 1 and managed to grab a bunch of offensive boards (13, which were nearly a third of those available). They used those extra opportunities to get up 6 more shot attempts than they did in the first contest, even in a much slower game.
Throw in some good FT shooting, another good-not-great night from Derrick Rose and a much better effort from Joakim Noah (who put up 25 points, 13 boards — 7 offensive — and 3 dimes on a night where he had to step up following his Cleveland sucks comments), and the Bulls were right there with the Cavs. They trailed only 88-91 with 6 minutes left, and it legitimately looked like anyone’s game to win.
Then LeBron won it.
Three-pointer. Free-throws. Ridiculous driving finish. Dagger J. Dagger J. Swing pass out of a double for a trey.
For the Bulls, no one else really stood out. Luol Deng played a lot better, going 7/15 for 20 points after an ugly 5/15 performance in Game 1 and converting a huge three-point play to cut the Cleveland lead to just 3 right before LeBron went nuts. Hinrich and Gibson were both bad offensively, and Taj Gibson was effective but didn’t stand out much. Typical Bulls.
Jamario Moon was huge for the Cavs, sticking a bunch of timely threes, and this is something to keep an eye on during the next few games to see if he can continue being a reliable weapon. If so, that’s really good news for Cleveland.
But after him, no one else really did much on offense.
And, honestly, they didn’t need to.
I’m on a horse.