To the Left, To the Left

By: 04.28.10  •  40 Comments

LeBron James (photo. Nike)

What if Michael Jordan had shot his famous shut-eye free throw in the final seconds of the fourth quarter of a playoff game against a heated rival? Then it’s not just a cute footnote; it goes down as the worst (or best) prick move ever, making MJ’s Hall of Fame speech seem like Lamb Chop‘s sing-along by comparison. So what do we make of LeBron James last night, when he stepped to the foul line with a chance to close out the Bulls and shot one free throw left-handed? (He missed.) LeBron said his right elbow was sore, but try selling that to a bitter Chicago fan … On a night where he took more free throws (14) than field goals (12), LeBron just missed a triple-double with 19 points, 10 boards and 9 assists. While the shooting of Antawn Jamison (25 pts) and foul-drawing abilities of Shaq had Cleveland on the verge of running away with the game a few times in the second half, when Chicago wouldn’t go away, it was LeBron’s cue to take over. Earlier in the series he delivered daggers with his jumper, but last night he got to the rack for layups and and-ones … If the NBA wanted a guaranteed $35,000 coming its way, they would have required Brad Miller attend the post-game press conference. Miller and Joakim Noah had some fouls called against them that would have sent Sean Elliott on a Southwestern killing spree had it been a Spurs/Cavs game. In one sequence, one of the refs made a big show about warning Miller and Shaq to tone it down in the paint. Right after Miller gave the ref some lip, he immediately hit him up with two fouls the next two times Shaq got the ball, even though both guys were giving as much as they were getting. After Miller sat down, the Cavs went right back to Shaq, who drew another bad call on Noah, then got an easy dunk when Joakim had no choice but to let him have the lane … Another fourth-quarter sequence the Bulls can blame on the refs was when Derrick Rose (31 pts, 6 asts) had what should have been a continuation and-one overturned, eventually resulting in a 24-second violation on the same possession. LeBron got a plus-one layup on the other end, and the Cavs never trailed again … Sign in the crowd: “Joakim I Noah Dentist” … That’s it for the Miami Heat, knocked out last night as Celtics vs. Cavs is set for the conference semis. Objective #1 for Boston was keeping D-Wade somewhat in check, and for the most part they made Wade (31 pts, 10 asts) take tough shots. The Celtics led by as much as 21 in the third quarter, and although Miami cut the lead down to three in the fourth, Big Baby stopped that momentum when he spun into the lane and muscled in a layup plus the foul, then punctuated it with some unidentified dance; We’ll call it the “Thickey Shuffle.” Ray Allen (24 pts, 5 threes) and Paul Pierce (21 pts, 7 rebs, 6 asts) hit a couple more daggers down the stretch to finish it off … The Celtics announcers need to stop with the whining, ’cause it’s not even cute anymore. Does anybody really believe there’s some League-wide referee conspiracy against the Boston F’n Celtics? That’s like Jerry Seinfeld saying he can’t get a fair shake in life. The worst was when Mario Chalmers drew an offensive foul on KG and Tommy Heinsohn cried, “He’s ACTING!” Yeah, you’ve been watching Paul Pierce play on this team for a dozen years and you’re complaining about somebody acting? … Is there a single guy on his team D-Wade wouldn’t have traded to get Caron Butler? Tough Juice showed how you’re supposed to play an elimination game, hitting the Spurs for 35 points and 11 boards on 12-of-24 shooting with zero turnovers. It didn’t even matter that Dirk had a modest 15 points; the Mavs still won in a rout to make the series 3-2, San Antonio … It was like the Lakers took a collective look in the mirror before last night’s Game 5 against the Thunder and vowed to start fresh. Ron Artest cut his hair off, Pau Gasol cut his hair short, and Phil Jackson cut Derek Fisher a break by finally deciding to have Kobe guard Russell Westbrook. Without Westbrook penetrating the defense at will, OKC’s offense hit a brick wall. Meanwhile, L.A. made a point to work the ball inside — apparently just realizing Gasol (25 pts, 11 rebs) and Andrew Bynum (21 pts, 11 rebs) are better than any of OKC’s bigs — and getting the shots they wanted closer to the rim rather than jacking threes. Really feels like a “back to normal” vibe was established in the series … We’re out like Del Negro …

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