I wonder if Scottie Pippen is starting to have second thoughts...
The mockery of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James: They...they wouldn't make fun of Dirk being sick during Game 4 right before Game 5 would they? Or at the very least not on camera.
Okay. Never mind, then.
The Miami cHeat: They shot the ball exceptionally well (52.9 percent), hit 40 percent of their threes (8-for-20), knocked down most of their free throws (21-for-26) and got a huge boost off the bench from a red-hot Mario Chalmers (15 points in 23 minutes on 4-for-6 from downtown and 3-for-3 from the line). And, once again, they had the lead with under five minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
And, once again, they lost. The Mavs closed the game on a 17-4 run.
There were circumstances. D-Wade injured his hip running into the brick wall known as Brian Cardinal. And the Mavericks were just on fire: 56.5 percent from the field and an absolutely blistering 68.4 percent from beyond the arc. Dallas banged home 13 three-pointers. Several of them were wide open, but a handful of them were bad shots, Jason Terry's trey with 33 seconds left seemed to go in by divine providence.
Teams can win games based on disproportionately hot long-distance shooting. It's happened all season. Heck, Miami did it during these playoffs against the Celtics and Bulls. And the Mavs did it last night.
That wasn't the whole story, though. The cHeat were handling the rock like it was coated in creamy butter. They committed 18 turnovers for 21 points going the other way. The Nazgul combined for 12 of those 18 miscues.
Speaking of the Terrible Trio, they did some statistical damage. LeBron had a triple-double (17 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists), Wade scored 23 points and went 10-for-12 from the line. And the Boshtrich finished with a double-double (19 points, 10 boards). And yet those three guys finished with plus-minus scores of -11, 13 and -13, respectively. They all committed damaging fourth quarter turnovers, and Wade and Bosh both missed foul shots in the final 12 minutes.
And then there was...
LeBron James: Basketbawful reader dwade posted the following comment:
I asked Lebron for change for a dollar. He gave me 75 cents and said, "Sorry, I don't have a 4th quarter."
Heading into last night's game, James posted "Now or Never!!" on his Twitter page. When asked about that Tweet, LeBron said: "It was a personal message to myself. That's just how I was feeling at that time, honestly. It was just a personal message to myself and had nothing to do with anyone else besides myself. I was just in a zone at that point … this is a big game, probably the biggest game of my life, well, not probably, it is. And I'm approaching it that way."
Look, it's not like LeBron didn't play well. He had a triple-double in an NBA Finals game. He made several smart basketball plays. But he didn't take over. Didn't transcend. Didn't prove what everybody loves to say about him: That he's the best basketball player in the world with a chance to be the greatest ever.
I mean...two fourth quarter points? Two?! And they came with 29 seconds left in a three score game on a layup the Mavs basically conceded. He wasn't just outscored down the stretch by Nowitzki (8 points in the fourth) and Jason Terry (also 8 points). He was outscored by J.J. Barea (6 points in the fourth).
Overall, he scored 17 points but needed 46 minutes to do it. The average NBA player this season, per 46 minutes, scored 18.9 points.
He shot 8-of-19 without a single 3-pointer. That's not good for anybody, let alone a player of this talent.
He had two free throw attempts. TWO. This continued a series-long trend of James being either unable or unwilling to attack the rim -- he has only 16 free throw attempts for the series.
He has 11 fourth-quarter points in five games, despite playing every minute of every fourth quarter. Eleven points in 60 minutes. That’s a wee bit south of superstar territory. Actually, it's a wee bit south of Juwan Howard territory -- he averaged 14 points per 60 minutes this season. Every Miami player except Joel Anthony scored at a higher rate.
Again, this isn't just any random guy. This is a two-time MVP who was the most coveted free agent in NBA history. This is one of the best players of all time, regardless of what happens in the next few days. This is the reason the Heat had a championship parade last July ... because when they got LeBron, they got the promise of dominating games like this one.
Or so they thought.
Boy, I bet Gregg Doyal is feeling pretty smug right about now. And...yep. He sure is.
LeBron James has now scored just 2 points combined in the 4th quarter of the last 2 games. He is Miami's 5TH leading scorer over that span, despite playing all 24 minutes... He does however have 5 of the team's 10 assists...
From Elias: LeBron James is averaging 2.2 PPG during the 4th quarter of the NBA Finals. That is the fourth-lowest by a former MVP in any NBA Finals series over the last 25 seasons. The difference between James and the other guys on this list? His most recent MVP award came just one season ago whereas the others were well past their MVP-winning seasons.
Needless to say, LeBron James' scoring has been non-existent in the 4th quarter of this series... James is averaging just 2.2 PPG in the 4th quarter of these finals after averaging 8.2 in the Eastern Conference Finals over the Bulls. LeBron has yet to score more than five points in the 4th quarter of any game in the NBA Finals and has scored 2 or fewer points each of the last four games.
Mike Bibby and Joel Anthony: Turrible. Just turrible.
Shawn Marion's masturbatory celebratory gesture: Basketbawful reader Ash posted this animated gif of Shawn Marion air jerking. Speaking of animated gifs, Apocalypse34 posted this one of official Bill Kennedy apparently doing the Time Warp.
Anyway, here's some (admittedly bad) video of Marion's air wank:
Can you imagine the outrage if LeBron had done that? Speaking of which, TrueHoop's Henry Abbott makes a fair point about the Mavs' celebration late in last night's game versus the cHeat's back in Game 2. Let's face it: Everything the cHeat do is so much more hateable.
Tyson Chandler, quote machine: On a late (and slightly iffy) charge he drew on LeBron: "I felt like it was a charge. I [had] seen him drive baseline a couple of times in the course of this game and actually in a couple of games now. I’ve been thinking, 'You know if I could get there and set and make him think I’m going to jump I can get a charge.' [It] just so happened to be at a key time."
Jason Terry, quote machine: "We are getting the same looks we knew we would get. After Games 1 and 2, you watch it on film, you see it and then you realize where you're going to have the opportunities. I said to myself, I said to my teammates, 'We're not going to continue to miss those open shots that we're getting.' And so, again, being confident, preparing, getting extra shots in, in those spots is what allow you to go out in the game. And when you get those opportunities, knock them down."
Erik Spoelstra, quote machine: "They made their shots. This is a shot-making team. We were aware of that before we came into the series. They can really extend your defense and you have to be active and athletic, all of these things."
Jason Kidd, quote machine: "You're never too young or too old to always improve your game. At 38, I've always felt that I had to improve my shooting if I want to be on the floor and help my teammates out. As I've gotten older, it's just about timing and not so much scoring 20 points or having 15 assists or 10 rebounds. It's just being at the right place at the right time."
DeShawn Stevenson: On Brian Cardinal's surprisingly effective 10 minutes: "Brian hit a big 3, took a key charge and tried to take a charge on Dwyane and [Wade] hurt his hip. We have guys that have been in the league for a long time and are ready. It says a lot about our team with Brian coming in there having not played a lot of minutes in the playoffs and he's in the Finals giving his all. We just have guys in here that are very confident. We're a family."
LeBron James, quote machine: "I could have made a couple of more plays for my team. But at the end of the day, all it's about is a win or a loss. Triple-double means absolutely nothing in a loss. So we will be better in Game 6 on Sunday."
Dwyane Wade, quote machine: "I don't talk about injuries -- it was unfortunate I had to leave the game, but I came back and finished. Once you're on the court, you're on the court. I don't have no excuses. I'm smart enough to play the game without obviously being 100 percent. That's all I did when I came back. I'll be fine Sunday,” Wade said. “The good thing about life, good thing about this game, we get another opportunity, another crack at it. We'll do whatever it takes to win [Game 6]. We're confident."
Chris Bosh, quote machine: "We fought hard all season for home-court advantage. We're down 3-2. We protect home court, we win the series, so we just have to keep that in mind."
Chris' NBA Finals Lacktion Ledger: Joel Anthony went 100% from the field (on one attempt) in 16:12 as starting center, but fouled thricely for a 3:2 Voskuhl.