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So LeBron grabs a rebound and in the process of grabbing said rebound a Pacer player brought his arm down in the general vicinity of where his excellence was running. This allows the greatest player in the game today and arguably one of the greatest players to ever play the game to do the one single thing that he doesnít need to do to be great. While the arm was in the area (it might have been Lance but I donít remember) it was nowhere near James. However that did not stop him from thrusting his head back as though he were struck in the face by a 2 x 4.
Problem for LeBron was though that the referee wasnít buying it, this blatant flopping attempt drew the ire of the crowd (rightly so) and in response to this LeBron instead of ignoring the situation decides that he is a better actor than everyone elseís eyes are viewers and then proceeds to rub and hold his nose as though it were broken. Again sadly for him it still didnít work. He would not let it go though even on the way back down the court after the next play he still grabbed his nose acting like the longer he would do this that we would go ďoh, okay he must have gotten hitĒ.
Iíve seen LeBron James every game here since he was a rookie. I saw Michael Jordanís every game here since 85 and while I hated Jordan with the passion of a white hot sun, never EVER did I once see him flop like this. Now donít get me wrong his airness had the benefit of every quick whistle that was ever blown and as Hersey Hawkins once said after a game he touches you itís a steal you touch him itís a foul. But Michael never begged for it like LeBron does. Jordan came of age in a time when the NBA was far more physical and tough; for Godís sake he had to go through the bad boy Pistons to get over the mountain top. But he never to the best of my memory pretended he was hit 75í from his basket trying to draw a foul and then further to go on making an idiot of himself by not moving forward without making it more obvious by pretending to rub something that wasnít even there.
Why do I bring this up? Simple, first and foremost he doesnít need this. Second there are a lot of comparisons going around about King James vs. His Airness and I want to weigh in on one thing about this.
Michael Jordan was afraid of no one. There was no player who he would allow alter his game. Mt. Mutombo was nothing more than a vertical line he would try and scale, one of his most iconic dunks of all time is him making fools of John Starks & Charles Oakley on the side only to run at and Jump over Patrick Ewing for a dunk and a foul.
LeBron James is intimidated by Roy Hibbert. You heard me right, I said it clearly & Iíll say it again LeBron James is intimidated by Roy Hibbert and passes away from him on almost every opportunity. Michael Jordan would never have done this, even maybe to the detriment of his team I donít know but I know there would never be a time he wouldnít attack him.
Sorry I know that the above doesnít have much to do with anything but I needed to let that out.
Another thing when the Heat come to town here I always wonder. I know Chicago & Cleveland fans do it as well so I know we arenít the only ones but are we really the only three fan bases that actually openly hate the Heat? I have always believed that LeBron could not understand that when he came here because even in towns that support their home teams fans generally love and appreciate him, not here, never here. Not even when we were at our worst fan wise. For whatever reason the Heat have not been able to attract the local market like they have in other cityís.
The Heat are a very weird team to play against though as their offense starts with usually 4 of the 5 players at or above the three point line. They want to spread you out and then drive on you. This works against most teams and it works against us as well at times but it works less on us than others because most of our players are very long and the players on their team that drive are also guarded by players on our team that are not only long but also very quick laterally. Iíve often wondered how a zone would work on them but the one way to destroy a zone is to hit open shots and they do have shooters that can burn you if you let them.
BTW, did anyone else see David West lay a hard shoulder on James drawing an offensive foul? I have a feeling from watching it that David got that foul on purpose and laid that hard shoulder on him right in front of the referee and didnít care. I donít know if he was sending a message or retaliating but it was kind of fun to watch.
BTW, while our bench still needs something isnít it nice to not have our anuses shrink because our point guard and power forward coming in off of the pine do not always lose leads and on occasion actually help give the team a boost. Wasnít it nice to see David West be able to sit and Scola stay in there for a good amount of time in the 4th and not freak out at Frank for not getting West back in there. This is already a world of difference from last season.
You know if you think about it 19-3 is beyond magical. But letís break it down to even a micro schedule for a min. Do you realize that our last three games have been against the Spurs, the Thunder & the Heat and we have won 2 of those 3? How special is that? Last season if we would have went 1-2 we would have been pretty happy. The year before that 1-2 would have been thrilling and before that 0-3 would have been expected. This year is so different from any year we have ever seen with our club that almost every game is new territory for us. The thrill and wonder of actually and confidently saying that we fear no team is amazing.
We won tonightís game with Paul George & Georg Hill all having what I consider for them to be somewhat sub par nightís. Our big men came through and we got enough from our bench to pull this out (Lance also had a good night).
Letís do grades:
Paul George: B+ Steady defense made up for tired legs and an abundance of min. (we need some wing help from the bench) that Paul has had to play. Heís only had to play Kevin Durrant and LeBron James in back to back games so thatís no big deal, yeah right. The one big difference between Durrant and George is that Paul actually is good enough on defense that he guards his man while Kevin guarded Lance and even LeBron tonight switched off of Paul a few times. Missed some shots early in the game that he normally makes but again I think nerves and a rough schedule had as much if not more to do with that than any Heat defense. It will be nice for him to have a couple of days of rest.
David West: A 6 of 8 from the floor & 9 boards? Thatís once again efficiency in action. Also I noticed tonight more than any game this season that David West was imposing himself on the game in a physical fashion. In other words he was putting a hurt on Miami whenever he could. He one time hit Mario Chalmers hard in the chest to the point where Mario was rubbing his chest running down the floor in pain. He also closed the door on the Heat at the end of the game with that running one hander from the corner. He is always a rock for us when we need him.
Roy Hibbert: A Why is Roy special? Well a lot of reasons really but the one thing you canít do to Roy that other teams often do to other big men is do the ďhack a RoyĒ. That only works when your big man canít hit a free throw, Roy on the other hand is shooting 78% from the stripe this season and is a respectable 73% shooter for his career. So there is no fouling Roy on purpose to get the ball back and in tonightís game they made the mistake of fouling him in the act of shooting giving him several attempts at 3 point plays. Other than that we all know that Miami really only has a limited chance of guarding Roy and for whatever reason they didnít use Haslem tonight so it makes it even tougher for them.
Lance Stephenson: A- Good enough as he kept active and shot 50% from the field. His play to end the half was a brilliant play call from Frank for that to occur. That was the typical Vogel weave but it works so well because all three players (Hill, Stephenson & George) can all hit the shot either from the floor or can drive as Lance did on this. He also hit a three early in the 3rd to get our team really rolling and back on track. Also he was once again in full mouth mode tonight as LeBron was getting pretty upset with him in the third quarter, he really knows how to get under his skin which is always fun.
George Hill: C Not really sure what went wrong here as I canít say he played a bad game but he didnít play a good game either. He only shot the ball 4 times which is probably not enough and I think he only played okay defense. Again C is kind of a neutral grade and IMO thatís kind of what Georgeís game was to me, neutral.
C.J. Watson: B On the other hand I thought Watson was brilliant, in fact I really didnít like Frank taking him out at the end of the 4th. I really like the fact that he is now attacking the basket instead of being glued to the three point line. That always makes a player so much easier to guard if all they do is hang and wait for the kick out. That behind the back dribble to make Norris Cole the star of next weekís Shaqtin a fool was breath taking. The steal wasnít bad either.
Luis Scola: B I think the one thing that is somewhat overlooked in Luis game is that he has actually been a very good rebounder this year. He grabbed 6 tonight to go along with his 7 points, neither of which is earth shattering but it was enough to allow David to grab a significant rest in the second half and be able to come back and pound the Heat. His ability to hit a face up Jumper I have a feeling will come up big for us against the Heat this year.
Orlando Johnson: D Shooting slump, tried on defense which is a bonus but for whatever reason the past few games he has not been able to find the basket. We need scoring from our backup wing players so he really needs to step it up to help some more during the season so that way Paul & Lance donít have to play so many min. every single game.
Ian Mahinmi: F- What went wrong here? He used to at least be able to help defend the paint but that now more often than not results in a foul. He has been a problem now for a few weeks and it scares the crap out of me whenever Roy goes to the bench. God I wish we would have kept a competent 3rd big man on the roster, we could have even kept Butler as well since you can have 15 players. I used to really like Ian but lately Iíve been scouring the D league roster trying to come up with someone/ anyone who can do some emergency min.
Another strong win for our team in a season of strong wins. Next Wednesday will be interesting as Iím sure they wonít want to lose to us twice in a row, my hope is that we show them that it doesnít matter what they want.
This is the kind of game that demands a rock anthem so I proudly present to you our German friends the Scorpions.
Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13