LeBron’s Nightmare Continues; Wilt Chamberlain Night Goes Awry

By: 03.03.12  •  71 Comments
LeBron James

LeBron James (photo. David Alvarez)

Maybe LeBron James is just stubborn. Maybe he’s perfectly capable of delivering game-winning hero moments whenever he wants, but since it seems the whole world is dogging him, he doesn’t want to give anyone the satisfaction of feeling like they’re telling him what to do. And maybe we’re really reaching there, but how else do you explain why LeBron does the things he does? … Last night’s Heat/Jazz game was almost a shot-for-shot replay of last week’s All-Star Game, with Al Jefferson and the Jazz wearing the Western Conference costumes. Utah dominated the first half, leading by as much as 18. But then, just like he did in Orlando, LeBron dominated the second half and brought his team all the way back before one questionable decision marred an otherwise brilliant performance. And just like in the All-Star Game, Dwyane Wade managed to sneak out of the gym free from blame even though he was the one who arguably cost his team a win … LeBron (35 pts, 10 rebs, 6 asts) was simply unstoppable down the stretch. He was incredible offensively and defensively. With just over one minute to go he drilled a three to put Miami ahead by one, and on the next possession hit a double-clutch, off-balance jumper while going to his left that was one big toe shy of being a three-pointer. One Utah announcer’s reaction to that circus shot: “Oh please! Unbelievable! Not from this world! He is not from this planet!” … But the Jazz hung in there and regained the lead when Devin Harris hit a floater over D-Wade, drawing a foul in the process and converting the free throw. So with 4.5 seconds left, Miami down one, the stage was set: LeBron took the inbound pass on the left wing and ran a pick-and-pop with Udonis Haslem that drew the entire defense his way. And just when you’re thinking LeBron HAS to take the last shot – standing not far from where Michael Jordan hit The Last Shot – he instead passed to a wide-open Haslem. Who bricked. Damn … As is typically the case with LeBron, it was the right basketball play to make. But that wasn’t the time for the right basketball play. Maybe if he’d been struggling offensively it would’ve made more sense, but LeBron was ON FIRE. Everything he threw up in the fourth quarter went in. Nobody would have blamed him had he taken the last shot and missed. OK, he still would’ve gotten a ton of hate for missing the shot, but now he’s gonna get it worse because he didn’t even want to shoot … The unsung goat was Wade (31 pts), who not only fouled Harris on the eventual game-winner, but also hacked Harris in the act of shooting a three earlier in the fourth, and missed a huge crunch-time free throw. How does Wade get away with it? He makes just as many mistakes as LeBron – probably more – but it’s like everybody forgets them as soon as the buzzer sounds … The unsung hero was Al Jefferson (20 pts), who was a monster when it mattered. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin didn’t even need a playbook. Every key possession was “Give it to Al,” and then Al did things to Joel Anthony that would’ve made Detective Olivia Benson question what it all means … ESPN tried its hardest for a storybook Wilt Chamberlain tribute, but it was like the ghost of the late Big Dipper wouldn’t allow it. On the 50th anniversary of the night Wilt scored 100 points in one game, ESPN aired a doubleheader featuring two of Chamberlain’s former teams (Sixers vs. Warriors) and two teams known for explosive offense (Suns vs. Clippers). But the plan for a night of savage buckets to honor the most savage Bucketeer fell flat. Only one of the four teams (Philly) cracked 100 points, and the Suns/Clips game looked more like a mid-’90s grind between the Knicks and Heat. Was this some kind of curse doled out by Wilt? Maybe his spirit is mad at ESPN for helping perpetuate the idea that Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T. and Shaq is the M.D.E. … Apparently Lou Williams is one of the Ghostbusters, though, as he dropped 25 points in 27 minutes off the bench as the Sixers owned the fourth quarter and beat Golden State by 22 … Keep reading for a recap of the Lakers’ wild night …

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