"It's All About The Game"
i95Ballerz.com/SportsGroove TV Wizards Blog: Finally!
Ron Bailey, Publisher
January 5, 2008 – January 5, 2009 – Could the elephant that is called LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs finally be off the Wizard’s back (see first round playoff series victories over the hometown crew in ’06, ’07, ’08)? Is LeBron James finally held to similar if not the same rules as other players, particularly regarding traveling violations?
Well, based on a call made with two ticks in regulation the latter could hold true: The score was 79-77 and James (30 points, 10 boards), aka the Best Player in the League, decided to attack the rim, as Best Players in the League do. On the way to the basket, he felt the need to get his footwork together, AFTER taking a jump step (which to old schoolers like myself seems like walking anyway). Maybe James thought he could do it again (see his traveling during playoff series’ here in D.C.), but not this time. Finally!
LeBron James (23) gets to the rim in the fourth quarter.
Afterward, LeBron (yeah, he’s a true one name player like Pele, Magic, Michael, and Walter) was heard deriding the call in the locker room. C’mon man. C’mon.
It shouldn’t have come to this, given the Wizard’s 16 point advantage with 10:51 to play. Many in the press corps expected a meltdown – as has been the team’s wont this year in late third/early fourth quarter situations – and were almost proven prophetic – as the Wiz cats systematically fumbled away and quick-shot opportunities away. By the time Antawn Jamison (26 points, 13 boards) sank his baseline jumper to re-establish the Wiz’s lead at 79-77, all in attendance believed the loss a fait d’accompli.
Of course James’ punishing drives, some ending in nice passes to open teammates had something to do with the feeling that ever present barometer of game outcomes, ‘Big Mo’ has swung the Mistake by the Lake’s way (yeah, Clevelanders/ites, whatever, that’s your city’s name).
Wizard’s head man Ed Tapscott lauded the Best Player in the League’s uncanny ability to find open teammates on the open side of the floor, noting his drives sucked in the defense, but the guy could still find people standing in front of the Wiz’s bench (floor’s opposite side), while not “hitting me with the ball”.
Whether the elephant exists no longer is of debate – though the Cavs have ousted D.C’s team three years going in playoff series, the Wiz are now 6-5 against them in regulars season play over that period – Tapscott’s crew could have, maybe should have lost the game.
But they didn’t. Finally.
McGuire’s Impact Showing: For a second year player who was averaging 2.3 points and 4 caroms a game before this tilt, Dominic McGuire is starting to make in impact. His 10 points and 10 rebounds were solid to say the least, but it’s on the defensive end, or strapping up where he is really starting to excel.
Versus Cleveland, Dom defended every frontcourt ‘zish, hefty work considering he stands around 6’8” and scales in at 220 pounds; facing him was the likes of, Ben Wallace (a physical 6’8”, 240 pounds) and of course this other guy, dubbed Best Player in the League (6’8”, 250 pounds).
While having defended all the frontcourt positions earlier in his career, never did he have to do so in the SAME GAME.
“I just tried to keep Ben Wallace off the boards” said a weary, yet satisfied McGuire in the locker room. “That’s really all I could do”.
He did it well. Not ascribing this totally to McGuire, but Wallace only snagged five boards for the game, while the Cavs were out-caromed 52-35.
McGuire on defending the Best Player in the League: “When he drives,
he is not only looking to score, he’s looking to find other people…He’s
a great player playmaker”.
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