Smack / Mar 18, 2009 / 5:45 am

LeBron answers his crunch-time critics, and the Dance begins

LeBron James

We’re just asking the question: Exactly how many big-time threes and clutch free throws would LeBron have to hit before he’d lose the reputation for not being a solid shooter who performs in crunch time? Hosting Orlando last night in a game that had “playoff atmosphere” written all over it, ‘Bron calmly drilled a deep three to give Cleveland the lead with 47 seconds left, then hit two free throws with under 10 seconds remaining to ice the win. For the game LBJ went 4-7 beyond the arc and 9-10 at the stripe. More clutch? He scored 15 in the fourth quarter, while the Magic as a team had 18 … Of course those weren’t the only highlights from LeBron’s 43-point, 8-rebound, 12-dime, 4-steal effort. He threw in the customary head-at-the-rim breakaway dunk, and for one of the underrated sickest plays of the night, lost Rafer Alston with a behind-the-back dribble, then jumped and hung in the air for almost two full seconds floating out of bounds before hitting Anderson Varejao for a dunk. It’s the same thing T.J. Ford does 10 times a game, only ‘Bron made the right play and seemed to have an idea what he was doing when he left his feet … In between LeBron’s late three and the free throws, Orlando lost its chance to tie or take the lead when Dwight Howard (13 pts, 15 rebs, 6 blks) got called for a fishy three-seconds violation. It’s not that Dwight wasn’t camped out in the lane, but seriously, who makes that call at that juncture in the game? And against a player of that caliber? Just ask Chris Bosh: We’ve all seen Shaq planted in the paint for up to eight seconds at a time with no one blowing a whistle. Here’s Stan Van Gundy with his thoughts on the call: “That’s part of the reason they’re 30-1 at home. They’re a very good team, and when you get calls like that (crap), you’re in pretty good shape.” … Between that call and the fact that Rashard Lewis shot an uncharacteristic 0-for-8 beyond the arc, the Magic don’t have to hang their head after that loss. It’s not like they totally got outplayed. And it’s pretty clear that if these teams meet up in the postseason, it’s gonna be a battle … For St. Patrick’s Day, ‘Bron was rocking green-and-white Nikes with gold laces and “Irish” on the back for St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School … Andre Iguodala
We’ve seen the Lakers bench lose big second-half leads before, but is it time for concern when — this late in the season — L.A. is having fourth-quarter collapses while Kobe and Pau Gasol are on the court? Up by 14 in the fourth against the Sixers (at home), a few costly turnovers and some lax defense allowed Philly to go on a 20-2 run and take the lead. As Gary Payton said on NBA TV, the Lakers just got complacive … Kobe (11 pts 5-15 FG) actually gave L.A. the lead back with a long two-pointer right in Andre Iguodala‘s eye with six seconds left, but Iguodala (25 pts) came right back and hit a buzzer-beating game-winning three right in Trevor Ariza‘s eye. Not that Ariza played bad defense, but if you know Iguodala is taking that shot, why wouldn’t you put Kobe on him? … You have to give Philly credit for getting it done with guys who are borderline not even NBA players. During that big fourth-quarter run, Donyell Marshall was knocking down threes, Reggie Evans got some buckets, and even Royal Ivey was making plays. At least two of those guys wouldn’t even play if they were on the Lakers, Spurs or Celtics … Actually, with the way things are going for Boston, maybe Donyell and Reggie could get some run with them. Already missing KG, Big Baby and The Worst Player in the NBA, the Celts frontcourt took another hit when Leon Powe suffered a knee bruise in the first quarter of last night’s game in Chicago. Exploiting Boston’s extra-thin defense thereafter, the Bulls dropped 127 points in a win, 38 of them coming from John Salmons. Tied up late in the fourth, Salmons drove baseline past Ray Allen and caught a reverse dunk with nobody even trying to challenge him at the rim … Other big stat lines from Tuesday: Al Horford put up 23 points, 12 boards and six assists in a win over Sacramento, while Kevin Martin scored 31 in the loss; Kevin Love had 17 points and 19 boards in a loss to San Antonio; Dirk Nowitzki dropped 30 points on short-handed Detroit in a win; and Monta Ellis scored 29 in a win over the Clippers … While the NCAA Tournament officially got started with Morehead State beating Alabama State in the play-in game, Tuesday was also a big opening night for the NIT, with three of the most exciting players in the country in action: Stephen Curry scored 32 on South Carolina, Jodie Meeks had a modest 19 against UNLV, and Patty Mills gave Washington State 27 … Nice to see Kentucky is taking the NIT so seriously that they played their game in what looked like the UK volleyball gym. Apparently there was a “scheduling conflict” with Rupp Arena, but we actually went to the Rupp Arena website, and couldn’t find anything scheduled for yesterday … We’re out like Kentucky’s wounded pride …

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  • the_don_mega

    consistency… if bron could just be consistent with these…

  • ya boy

    that laker game was str8 sloppy.Almost as if dunleavy was coaching LA.But kudos to Philly for salvaging a salvagable game.As easy as it sounds most decent crews habitually can’t pull this off(read Nets,Mavs et al).
    And Bron is legit with me.Even on style points.Took him a bit,but you can’t front on numbers.And the Cavs being the top team in the L would have been a hard sell a year ago..
    Bron type shyt man.My 2009 MVP,hands down.

  • ToAn

    MVP…Lebron
    DPY…Dwight
    ROY…Rose
    6th…Terry

    wanna bet? the first two are no brainers with the teams records and the stats. Rose will win(if he is deserving it’s another question) it and if they make the playoffs it’s a no brainer as well. Terry will win it ’cause Ginobili isn’t playing enough to make it a race.

  • http://www.geocities.com/dagomardeg Dagomar

    Don Mega, are you serious? Bron is the league’s leading fourth quarter scorer for years running. He always takes over in the clutch. The criticism of him not being clutch dates from his first and second years, when admittedly he’d be much more prone to pass the ball in the waning seconds. I would have thought he’d answered that when he dropped 48 on the Pistons.

  • alf (from melmak)

    are there bookies in vegas now who are making odds on how the western conference standings would go? i would love to hear what they are saying.

    with what is happening to the c’s, i would say that injuries indeed are the great equalizer.

    cannot wait to take my meal allowance into the playoffs.

  • http://myspace.com/bigfreeze101 Big Freeze

    According to 82games.com, Lebron is the second most “clutch” player behind Kobe. “For these stats ‘Clutch’ is defined as: 4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points.” People who say that Lebron isn’t clutch in crunchtime are ignoring the facts. He doesn’t have many walk-off buzzer beaters though.

  • Kudabeen

    Salmons got game no doubt, but 38 points and 0 assist on a team that scored 127 points…That is very hard to do…It just makes funnier that he ever complained about someone else being selfish…Either way it is good to see he found a good fit in Chicago to play his game and help a team win without sulking…

  • Kudabeen

    You know what really bugs me out…When LeBron and Dwight cross paths…Bron isn’t that much smaller than Dwight…When Bron is caught behind Dwight, Dwight still has trouble backing him down…Crazy…

    The two most complete athletes in the L

    LeBron
    Dwight
    Iguodala
    Nate (If Lebron was shrunk He’d be Nate Robinson)
    Kobe (still has bunnies and endurance)
    Wade
    Josh Smith
    so on and so on

  • Biglang Liko

    @ big freeze, yeah LBJ doesn’t have a lot of walk-off buzzer beaters ala MJ or Kobe. He’ll get there though. No doubt that he takes over in 4th quarters.

    Until this season, he was also really shaky from the line. But i think he’s just putting the shots up with more confidence lately.

    He’s still far off from Kobe in terms of the clutch daggers but he’s developing fast.

  • http://www.alltexasforums.com rangerjohn

    big freeze
    yeah i agree labron is pretty clutch, but that is the same list that has IRK nowitski as like the #4 or something rediculous

  • that’s whats up

    Nate Robinson should take some growth hormone and get up to about 6’7″

    He would be dunking from beyond the free throw line, jumping over the whole Justiv

  • that’s whats up

    …whole Justice League

  • Big V

    “Complacive” isn’t a word. It’s “complacent”.

  • Kudabeen

    You don’t put Kobe on Iguodala on Dre I, because Ariza is just as athletic and 2 inches taller and should have a better shot at bothering the shot, but as we all can see in the still-shots…Iguodala had big elevation on the pull up…I haven’t watched the game yet, but I read Dre I was 0-6 on threes before that?? His Three point shot and free throw shoot is really handicapping his growth…He is one of those guys that scores in the low to mid 20′s consistently, but could easily be in the high 20s and low 30′s…

    He can’t and is not a #1 player with the way he performs at the freethrow line…

  • the_don_mega

    @Dagomar…

    aint knockin on bron bruh… i just said he needs consistency… never said he aint clutch… aint a bron hater too, dont worry…

  • E$

    If Lebron had a mixtape:

    1. Damn, I’m Cold – Bun B. ft Lil’ Wayne

  • Kudabeen

    I stopped asking the silly questions about LeBron being clutch after that 07 Detroit Series…That was other world take over stuff on a still championship level Detroit team…Last second shots aren’t the measure of clutch for me…Hell…Damon Jones came in games after not playing the whole game, but in the last play hit last second shots…Is Damon Jones more clutch than LeBron…not even…

    Clutch really really happens when you pull off the tough plays over and over…on both ends…

    That is elite level…MJ, Magic, Bird, Isiah, LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Hakeem, Nique, Iverson, Pierce, Big O, Barkley, McHale, Bobby Jones, Doc J, West, Cousy, Russell, so on and so on…That is special to watch…

    Shots at the end of the game are typically the same shots that should be makeable at the start of the game…

    Time shouldn’t matter with a one-on-one pull up or a open in rhythm set shot…It is great theater though…I’d take a LeBron Rampage or a 10+ point fourth quarter setting up a teammate to hit an open J to ice everyday…That’s my clutch…

  • the_don_mega

    @Kudabeen… straight pimpin’ there bruh

  • e

    all i can say is when lebron gets a consistent jumpshot lets say about 43% percent at least the league can just prepare his mvp trophy when that happens players will have to guard him face up not giving up the jumper than his speed and ball handlign ability at his size allows him to easily get to the basket for easy buckets when he perfect his jumper i can see him averaging 40 for a season

  • Dennis Castro

    Hey Dime, not to be overly critical, but don’t you think the fact that Dwight didn’t touch the ball in the last 9 or 10 mins of the game is more important than Lebron’s footwear?

    And Evans, Ivey, and Marshall are specified role players. They do one thing, and one thing well.

    Ivey is a very good on the ball defender for guards.

    Evans is one of the best hustle guys in the league. If you payed attention to Sixer games this year(tough feat, I know) you’d have seen a few games where the team starts off lethargic, and once Evans comes in, the defensive intensity gets picked up. I’d have a guy like Evans on my team anyday, he makes plays that don’t show up, but help you win games.

    Marshall is what he is at this point. A guy who should get no more than 12 mins a game, jack up a few threes, and see what shakes out. If Kapono can fill out a spot on an NBA roster, then there’s definitely room for a guy like Marshall.

  • rafa23

    @rangerjohn

    doesn’t that mean he is clutch? its not ridiculous when those lists are based on FACTS. he may be a terrible defender and choked in 06 finals and 07 first round. but other than that, he is pretty good in crunch time. this list and his various game winners prove it. I dont really like him, but dont let the hate blind you.

  • LakeShow84

    Weak ass Iguodala picks the game against us to have his yearly game winner.. and i agree with whoever said it.. he is not a #1 option.. could be a good #2 and would be a stellar #3.. like Lamar Odom..

    And that shot was a prayer..

  • LakeShow84

    Prick probably cost us Homecourt advantage.. but im not really trippin off playing the Cavs on their homecourt.. Well im worried about the calls the Cavs get on their homecourt but not them..

    Now Boston is a team that HAS to have homecourt advantage to make it back.. Im thinking its coming down to Orlando and Cleveland in the ECF.. Bostons front court is paper thin and they were already paper short.. And KG’s injury must be more serious than they let off because they KNOW they need homecourt advantage to hang with the Cavs and he still aint back..

    Detroit might shock someone too..

  • Kudabeen

    e:

    LeBron will never average 40…Kobe has a J and never averaged 40…MJ never averaged 40…could they? Sure, but they would have to be on gawd awful teams…

    40 is a big big number…to average…A lot of shots, pounding attacking the basket to get to the line…

    Bron’s J is consistent enough for me…He isn’t going to be Redd or Kapono…He still gets to the basket with ease…

    Is Lebron J as good or better than Amare’s? Absurd question right? But I ask this because Amare is so much better when he is attacking the basket and he does it with ease…LeBron is the same type of player…His J isn’t preventing him from greatness it was floor spacing…Mo Williams and crew looks like they have that covered this year…I can’t see Boston and Spurs being able to jam LBJ up as they did years past…

    Cavs should be in the Finals…Celtics look like they are being very conservative since that December LA lost…Extra cautious…playing it safe… We’ll see when KG gets back how ready they look…

    I’ve been saying all year Celtics are making mistakes in not getting Bill Walker/Pruit/Giddens more time on the floor…Especially Walker, because he has a lot of tenacity…They are going to need active bodies Against Cavs and Magic…They make you rotate a lot on D and that is tiring (Top players are all 31+ each having ankle, knee issues)…could be rough…

  • srb

    sucks when Pierce has to play center for most of the 4th quarter. they are lucky he scored 37..

  • Kudabeen

    Lakeshow…I actually think Celts Front court is a lot better with the recent production of Powe and Davis…Mikki isn’t a bad defender/live (thin) body to have in the paint either…That with a brooding Perkins and of course KG…They really aren’t thin…

    Better than Lakers? Not with Bynum

    Better than Cavs? Not if Z is stroking it from 17-18 ft and hitting threes…AV gets in KGs head and Joe Smith is a solid player…

    But they can match up with anyone’s front line or at the very least cancel out the other front line’s production…

    LA lost at home (Letting Boston Rally) and on the road (Blown out!) pretty bad against Boston, so I’d say at this point it’s hard for a Lakers fan to say much about anyone needing to be home or away…just a little Lakers hate for you getting on the Sixers and Dre I…

    :)

  • http://www.alltexasforums.com rangerjohn

    @ rafa, go look at the stats, dirk is # 4 on that list is based on points in the last 5 minutes and over time. dirk is minus 21 on the +/- and shoots 37% in “the clutch”. the way i read it, he is not clutch, he just shoots more often then anyone else. hell he has the 2nd lowest % of the top 10 and is only .4% better then ben gordan.

    that list is not a true “clutch” list, it is more a list of who scores the most at the end of a game but how well they do it.

  • LakeShow84

    Kudabeen

    I feel ya but Powe just bruised his knee and you dont know how long that will affect his play.. KG has a strained knee and that wont go away until the off season IMO.. KG is all out all the time, he will probably reaggravate and try to play through it.. Glen Davis is undersized and Mikki Moore is decent but inconsistent.. Perkins?? not impressed..

    Im really just comparing them to last year when they had PJ coming off the bench and Posey as well.. they had length.. they arent neccessarily small but they are undersized and if so they need to be healthy.. playing against bigger opponents will wear you down eventually..

    shit look at them now, they are falling apart.. This years squad is not better than last years squad..

  • LakeShow84

    that was my bad to say they were paper thin in the Frontcourt..

  • doc

    We whipped that ass Lakeshow,your bum ass team.Iggy put that shit in Ariza eye.Kobe who?We locked his nut ass up.He lucky he hit that last shot to get his double figures.And King James proved his worth again.Not clutch?Dime I think besides a couple cats on here and they homie Skip Bayless,we realized Bron is clutch like 3 playoffs ago.

  • Kudabeen

    Is that Doc praising Dre I and Sixers?!?!

    LOL

  • http://www.myspace.com/beenobrown BROGDEN

    KUDABEEN – he BETTER not have dished…
    Salmons shot 70%.
    He was 30% of Chicago’s O. in a 127-121 score, every one of his buckets was needed. So…

    GO JOHNNY GO
    GO, GO, GO
    GO, JOHNNY GO
    GO, GO, GO

    JOHNNY BE GOOD.

  • http://www.myspace.com/beenobrown BROGDEN

    LAL had a foul to give that wasn’t given.

    Normally Kobe would’ve drew that defensive assignment but that responsibility landed on Ariza…who in turn had a brain fart and didn’t foul.

    SWISH!

  • http://www.myspace.com/beenobrown BROGDEN

    BIG V – I caught that too. I don’t know where Gary found the word “complacive” but it damn sure aint in Webster’s dictionaurus.

  • K Dizzle

    In the mvp race, Bron’s back to first place. Embarrassin for Orlando that Dwight only gets 8 shots and doesn’t even get an attempt in the 4th quarter.Matter fact, if “all-star” Rashard Lewis bothered to even show up and hit one of his 7-8 triple attempts, Magic coulda pulled it off.

    I’m hatin Iguodala right now, but that was probably Kobe’s worst game in years, but he still got the clutch j….oh well, Cavs up one game in the race for finals homecourt

    Props to P Mills for comin out hard in the NIT, puttin up 27 in an easy win and pretty much lettin the selection committee know they phucked up cuz shitty teams don’t win 26 games just cuz…Still ticked about Minny and Wisconsin gettin in

  • Kudabeen

    I have no problems with “Johnny”…Just calling him about for doing the same things he sulked about in Philly…I like seeing him succeed and he fits with the Bulls…

    You’re right when you are hitting keeping putting it up…

  • LakeShow84

    Lol Doc live it up.. ill give you guys that shot all day..

    Shit i wish they could just give Lebron the MVP and let the playoffs begin.. im tired of having these little teams nip at our heels..

  • LakeShow84

    lol Doc, my bum ass team.. i hope we get Cleveland in the Finals.. just for you.. i hope..

    Closet Cav Fan lol

  • doc

    LOL-Yeah Lakeshow we whipped yall bum asses.i know yall dont wanna see us in the Finals.Yeah Im a Cav supporter but more of a Lebron supporter because when he or if he step then its a wrap for me and Cleveland.I hope Cleveland gets LA in the Finals too.Just so we can hear the remix edition of Kobe how my ass taste.

  • doc

    Kuda-My YOUNGBOY Iggy deserve props for that balls of steel shot he put down on LA ass last night.And in the process might’ve got my boy homecourt THROUGHOUT.Where Celtsfan at?Yall better keep tanking so yall dont run into that buzzsaw that is the SIXERS in the first round.I said it first.

  • POPPI GEE

    How mad was Rivers on that ejection lol? It was a jacked up call though, that late in the game.

    Ref who ejected pimpin was kinda swoll though. I don’t know if Doc want any parts of dude for real lol.

    LOL @ LakeShow84 for being tired of the little teams. Hey they also can cause injury to ya stars too. Those little teams just be in the way sometime huh?

    Don’t take them lil teams for being to lil though, cause when they beat ya squad and others see it, it can give ya other opponents confidence.

    Pretty cool of the hockey dude cutting the nets off the ENTIRE goal lol like basketball players.

    Bottom line on that Cle. vs. Orl. game is you can’t let Bron go to the hole in 3 seconds and no way, NO WAY, should Anderson being pulling down such a critical board with ONE HAND during the final seconds.

  • POPPI GEE

    I’m feeling reaal good about my brackets right now.

    DIME will there be any March Madness contest for your readers?

    I am in win it all or go home mode!

    G-Town to upset Baylor tonight in the
    N.one of yall I.n the real T.ourney

  • K Dizzle

    lol @ “N.one of yall I.n the real T.ourney”

  • K Dizzle

    @ Gee,

    what you got UNC doin? I don’t like them gettin to the final 4 if Lawson’s toe is messed.

  • POPPI GEE

    Let me just say, it feels real good to have a President that enjoys and knows about the game.

    So refreshing.

    Ranger J gonna hate I know, but admit it, aside from political stuff it’s good to have a pres. who really loves the game.

    Oh yea and for all the people pickin Pitt to win it all, based on Blair, remember these two words.

    Foul Trouble!

  • POPPI GEE

    K Dizzle Lawson is a lil warrior so trust he will be back in time to take them to the final 4.

    Plus the President is backing them so they gonna try to bring it.

    Shame for the Big East to have all them 1 seeds and lose out. Hope not. I am a Big East fan, but I like Carolina too.

  • doc

    I got Nova winning my bracket.So Im either gonna come up or get smashed.

  • http://www.geocities.com/dagomardeg Dagomar

    In terms of clutch stats:

    http://www.82games.com/0809/CSORT11.HTM

    IN TERMS OF POINTS SCORED for this season, Kobe’s 1, Lebron’s 2, Wade’s 3. Pretty good list. In terms of PER, Bron is on another level (check out boards, assists, blocks, steals). In previous years Bron was on top in points scored as well. Just sayin’. As for Dirk: he’s #7, right ahead of Roy (in terms of points scored). His clutch play has been vastly underrated.

  • http://GEE2.com POPPI GEE…Stinkin NIT

    Stinkin NIT!