Forget the usual suspects. This wasn’t about not enough defense or not enough rebounding, or not enough smarts in crunch time, or not enough depth, or not enough whatever. This was simply a case of too much LeBron and Mo Williams. Especially LeBron.
LeBron not only registered his third straight triple-double but also reinforced the notion that he should be required to wear a cape with an “S” on it and register as an alien from another planet. I mean it’s been well established he can leap tall buildings at a single bound and is more powerful than a locomotive, but it turns out he’s also faster than a speeding bullet. (Plus he’s taller than Superman).
In fact, it was that last super quality that turned the tide. The Suns were hanging right there with the Cavs early in the fourth period, and in fact seemed on the verge of seizing momentum for a stretch run. Grant Hill had just hit a slashing dunk to cut the deficit to 95-97, and when Steve Nash blocked a Williams shot on the ensuing possession it set up a breakaway basket for Jason Richardson, who had a 30-foot lead on the nearest Cav.
Unfortunately for him the nearest Cav happened to be James, who ran J.R. down and blocked his shot. In addition to being hit by James, J.R. was also hit with a technical for raising the possibility he might have been fouled. The resulting free throw was followed by one of Cleveland’s 17 threes, and what looked like a sure tie was suddenly a five-point deficit.
And okay, so replays seemed to suggest J.R. might indeed have been fouled. But even James might not have been able to catch him but for his ill advised decision to finish off the play with a 360 flourish. If you know LeBron is anywhere in the BUILDING you don’t do that.
But Coach Alvin wasn’t about to quibble. “No matter how you look at it”, he said, “it was one heck of a play.”
James finished with 34 points and 13 assists, nailing down his triple with his 10th rebound with 28 seconds to play. But the Suns might have lived with all of that but for Williams’ 30 points, including six treys. LeBron, by the way, hit three of those, as did Sasha Pavlovic.
The thing about James is that every time he touches the ball, no matter where he is on the floor, he creates a buzz not unlike Barry Bonds did every time he came to bat before the steroid scandal broke.
No disrespect to Kobe or Wade, but for me James is unquestionably the best player in the league, period, and will continue to be for much of the next decade. In fact, if he gets the right “supporting cast” (i.e., gets his “Pippen”) he may well rival Michael in titles, wherever he plays.
PS – No disrespect to the Lakers and Celtics, but the Cavaliers are the best team in the NBA at this point.