Add another bit of history to the LeBron James career highlight reel, which will some day challenge Mike, Vince, Kobe, Barry Sanders and Reggie Bush (the stuff he did in high school and college was just unreal) as the greatest in the history of sports highlight reels. After Hedo Turkoglu hit a tough jumper over Sasha Pavlovic to put Orlando up by two with exactly one second left in last night’s conference finals Game 2, the Cavs had one chance to avoid an 0-2 series deficit as everybody in Cleveland was nauseous on John Elway flashbacks. Mo Williams was the inbound passer — as Mike Brown flagrantly ignored the lessons of George Karl — and held it for 4.5 seconds before LeBron popped open at the top of the key. Catch, shoot, about 26 feet of arc, splash. The Q was a madhouse, cell phones and BlackBerrys around the country were flashing and chirping, and all Stan Van Gundy could do was shrug … The Cavs shouldn’t have even been in that position, though. They led by as much as 23 in the first half, which Orlando cut to 12 by halftime. Going into the fourth quarter, though, it was still the Cavs’ game to lose. And that’s when Mickael Pietrus got involved. He started drawing charges on LeBron (35 pts, 12-23 FG, 6 turnovers) and generally frustrating LBJ defensively, and hit a couple shots of his own as Orlando took their first lead of the game with 5:30 left. If Pietrus wasn’t French and didn’t look like such a douche, he’d have a lot more people singing his praises right now. One time LeBron cut backdoor for an alley-oop from Delonte West, and although Dwight Howard (10 pts, 18 rebs, 2 blks) got up in front of the rim and swatted the pass away, Pietrus played the most effective D imaginable in that scenario and elbowed LeBron in the nuts in mid-air. David Stern said he’ll suspend guys who throw ‘bows in the head area, so Pietrus could be in trouble … After Turkoglu (21 pts) tied it with a three at the 48-second mark, he sauntered back on D cheesing, and you could see him yell, “Yeeeeeeah!” Who knew Hedo was a Young Jeezy fan? … After that shot, LeBron was called for traveling on a drive (shockingly, no “crab dribble” reference by the announcers), then Pavlovic bailed Orlando out of what was turning into a horrible possession when he fouled Hedo. Given new life, Hedo scored on Sasha, which set up LeBron’s game-winner … Whoever picks the Cavs’ in-game music reminds us of the barbershop crew in Coming To America: They’re good and terrible. The occasional brilliance, like playing hip-hop tracks you just don’t hear in other arenas, gets nullified because they have no sense of the big moment. During the timeout before Hedo’s go-ahead bucket, leading up to what was arguably the biggest defensive possession of Cleveland’s season, the speakers pumped out “Great Balls of Fire.” Really. That’s a moment that screams for the Rocky theme, or if you wanna be cutting-edge, “Second Coming” by Juelz Santana … Cleveland’s PA announcer also deserves a shout-out, just because he sounds like Skeletor half the time. He makes “Anderson Varejao” sound like Keyser Soze … Midway through the third, Cleveland was up seven when ‘Bron drove to the rack and took some contact from Dwight with no call. LBJ got the rebound and went back up for an and-one, screaming something along the lines of, “Gimme my f*ckin’ foul!” The free throw made it a 10-point game, and when the ensuing sequence included an ugly Rafer Alston brick, a botched ‘oop between Hedo and Dwight, a terrible foul call on Hedo, and a LeBron layup, it seemed Orlando was done before they later pulled together and made it a ballgame … Back to that foul, which was one of the worst examples of a superstar call we’ve seen in this postseason. It started when LeBron tried to fire a pass between two guys and turned it over. Just as Courtney Lee got the steal and took off for what was gonna be an easy deuce, the refs blew the whistle on Hedo, who allegedly held LeBron back from attempting to run down Lee. Not only was it a ticky-tack call, but Hedo didn’t even really impede LeBron’s progress, and we all know there’s absolutely no way on Oscar Robertson‘s green earth that LeBron would have been called for that had the tables been turned. The best part was that Hedo didn’t even trip, because even though we’re only two games in, the Magic have already accepted that LBJ is going to get almost every call. Which is too bad, because it’s not LeBron’s fault, and he’s good enough to not need the extra help from the zebras … So that’s two amazing games in this series, and two amazing games in Lakers/Nuggets. Tomorrow, Kobe and Carmelo go at it in Denver for Game 3. It’ll be tough to one-up what happened last night, but no doubt we’re all ready for them to try … We’re out like Cleveland’s collective mind …
Smack / May 23, 2009 / 1:17 am
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