tclakin

Partial 4th Quarter Running Diary: Cavs-Magic Game 4

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2009 at 12:57 am
Sure about that Lebron?

Sure about that Lebron?

Game 4 tonight is a must-win game for the Cavs and it’s looking increasingly likely that they are going to lose. So, I think a partial 4th quarter running diary is in order. Plus, Marv’s in the booth with my nemesis, Doug Collins, so that’s always fun. We pick up the action with 8:05 left in the 4th and the Magic up 88-83.

8:05 – Magic ball. The Cavs HAVE to get a stop here. The momentum can’t be any more in Orlando’s favor.

7:52 – Apparently it can. Courtney Lee buries a 3 and the momentum meter has just been turned up to 11. 91-83 Cavs.

7:23 – Lebron James simply has to make fourth quarter free throws if he wants to be the best in the NBA. That’s a must.

7:10 – Lebron with a monster block on a Dwight Howard attempt. Whoa, look who showed up – it’s the MVP. He actually wants to win!

7:02 – Annnnnd Lebron throws the ball away. Turnover Cavs. Guess not.

6:37 – “Sloppy ball-handling here by the Cavaliers,” Marv offers. Too. Many. Jokes.

6:30 – You have to admire Marv’s refusal to refer to teams by anything but their formal names. It’s always “The Cavaliers.” I love it.

6:30 – Lebron is fouled and makes both free throws as CYO coaches across America breathe a sigh of relief.

6:12 – “An awkward move by Howard,” Marv correctly observes. Couldn’t have been more awkward, actually. Is there a professional athlete who does less with his freakish athleticism than Dwight Howard? I can’t think of one. He should score 35 a game, easy, but his post moves are terrible. Should I be shocked that his personal big-man coach is Patrick “Ringless” Ewing? No, no I shouldn’t.

5:20 – Lebron with a great post-up-then-quick-spin move straight out of the Jordan playbook.

4:52 – Back from commercial and straight into the Magic huddle, where Ron Jeremy look-a-like Stan Van Gundy is pointing and yelling, “Are you okay to keep going? Go the whole thing? Hard?” You can’t make this stuff up. The NBA, where Amazing happens.

4: 20 – Huge three for Rashard Lewis. The Magic take a commanding 96-90 lead.

3:50 – Lebron dribbles the ball off his foot and loses it out of bounds. We’re sure we’re ready to anoint this guy the next MJ? Positive? It’s not too soon?

3:15 – Rafar Alson misses a wide open three that would have slammed the casket closed on the Cav’s chances to pull this thing out. I bet he wishes he had that one back.

3:07 – Anderson Varejao with an and-one opportunity – and he makes the free throw. The shot cuts the Magic lead to 3, but is more notable because it allows Marv to pull out what might be his deadliest weapon: “Varejao, YES! and the foul!”

2:55 – Hedu “The Dog Whisperer” Turkoglu turns it over to the Cavs with a costly travel. Or as Marv called it, a “traveling violation!” Remember: formal names only.

2:55 – Timeout Cavaliers. If the Cavs want to close out this game, Lebron is going to have to end it himself by getting in the lane and muscling his way to the basket.

2:44 – And Lebron with an offensive foul. Ball back to the Magic. Not exactly what I had in mind.

2:20 – Lebron drives and throws the ball directly to Alston. “Two turnovers in a row now for Lebron,” says Doug Collins. You coached MJ Doug, you ready to crown Lebron?

1:58 – And as if on cue, Lebron goes coast-to-coast, cuts through traffic and deposits a murderous dunk to bring the Cavs back within one. He literally took off from the bottom of the circle  and had no problem throwing a vicious two-hander. I swear Lebron can read my mind and takes offense whenever I even think about bashing him in favor of MJ. It’s uncanny.

1:56 – The TNT icon reminds me that Lebron has posted a 31-9-7 thus far tonight. Okay, I get it. Relax.

1:44 – Dwight Howard fails to convert in the post, again, but Varejao bails him out. We’re about to find out what size jock Howard wears.

1:43 – He misses the first. We’re down to a Medium.

1:43 – Marv tells us that Howard’s secret to making his free throws in Game 3 involved humming songs to himself. And we’re down to a Medium/Small.

1:43 – Howard makes the second. Medium/Small it is.

1:24 – Lebron dishes to Delonte West, who drives and scores right in Howard’s face. Can we start calling him Medium/Small permanently? Is that possible?

0:15 left – Cavs ahead 98-97. Lebron with the ball and the chance to lock up a win. Annnnnd he tosses up a fadeaway 3 which clangs off the rim and bounces right to the Magic. Ugly. Why does Lebron think he’s a jump-shooter? He’s 6′ 8″, 250 pounds and can score at will down low. It makes no sense to take a 3 there. It actually upsets me. It’s like Lebron grew up watching first MJ and then Kobe bury jumpers and has decided that, to be the best, he has to take outside shots. And it doesn’t help when he makes a last-second prayer of a three in Game 2 and everyone worships him for it.

06.4 – Magic ball. Rashard Lewis elevates and buries a three. That is what a good outside shot looks like, Lebron. That right there.

Another Kobe-Lebron commercial from Vitamin Water. Right now, the super-hyped Kobe vs. Lebron debate looks like this: Kobe 3, Lebron 0. It’s that simple.

04.1 – Lebron drives the lane and gets fouled! I can’t believe it. I was 100% positive he was taking an awkward 3 there. Two HUGE free throws coming up. Speaking of athletic supporters….

00.5 – He makes the first. One more for the XL jock.

00.5 – And the second limps in with help from the Basketball Gods. Whoa. It’s looking like overtime, but we were about one inch away from the “Lebron James as NBA Hero Bandwagon” careening off the road, hitting a tree, and rolling over leaving no survivors.

00.0 – The Magic inbound the ball with a toss in the general direction of Howard under the basket. Lots of contact between him and Varejao but the refs swallow the whistle as Howard, Ron Van Gundy and the entire Orlando arena screams for a foul. It was close, but kudos to the refs for letting the players decide the game. (And to David Stern for his timely phone call).

And there’s the “Steal by Bird, underhands to DJ, he lays it in!” NBA commercial. I need to take a cold shower.

5:00 OT – Here we go. I knew this running diary was a must. I’m currently 2-2 on fourth quarter running diaries going into overtime.

4:34 OT – Daniel Gibson adds the first OT points for the Cavs with two free throws.

4:14 OT – A thunderous dunk by Howard over Varejao. That was weird.

3:54 OT – Lebron throws the ball away. Seriously Lebron, it’s time to step up. Past time, actually.

3:41 OT – Another huge two-hander from Howard. What game am I watching? Where am I?

3:05 OT – There’s a 3 from Lebron. Yeah, he made it and he’ll be applauded for it, but there was no need to take that shot.

2:30 OT – Lebron throws the ball away. 7 turnovers in the game for King James with 5 of them coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. I’ll hold my tongue.

2:28 OT – Varejao fouls out trying to make up for Lebron’s error. Uh oh.

2:07 OT – Pietrus with a giant 3 for the Magic. Huge momentum swing as the Magic go up by 4 with under two minutes to go in OT.

1:40 OT – And there’s an air-ball from Lebron as he heaves up another ill-advised three. Hey 23, no one makes fadeaway three’s on tired legs in overtime. Stop forcing it.

1:30 OT – Lebron pulls down a rebound and promptly tosses an unnecessary 2-line pass directly into the hands of the Magic. Another turnover – 8 for the game. This is one of the worst crunch-time performances by a big-time player I’ve seen in awhile. It’s a little depressing.

39.3 OT – Lebron, still battling, drives and gets to the line. You have to give him credit – the kid won’t quit. It just shows you how much confidence he has in himself and I respect the hell out of that. Gut check time here.

39.3 OT – Lebron calmly makes both free throws. Those were really, really big shots. Maybe I spoke too soon.

21.0 OT – Big Ben Wallace appears out of thin air to replace the departed Varejao and promptly puts a good foul on Howard. Shockingly Howard makes both free throws while I was warming up my next jock strap joke. We might have to upgrade him back up to Medium.

16.5 OT – Lebron has now shifted into one-on-one mode. He drives the lane looking for a layup or a foul, but Howard meets him with the muscle. It’s a clean block but the call is “jump ball.” Yes Commissioner Stern, I understand. We’ll do everything we can.

07.4 OT – Lebron with ANOTHER TERRIBLE THREE. He tried everything he could to draw a foul but even Stern couldn’t bail him out on that one. What a desperation move.

06.4OT – Zydrunas Ilgauskas gets fouled and makes both free throws. We’re about to enter the NBA’s patented “15-minute Long Final Five Seconds.” No one enjoys the “15-Minute Long Final Five Seconds.”

04.1 OT – Lebron for three……YES! Good god. He was almost out of bounds. Great shot, but I’m convinced that it would be better for his game in the long run if he didn’t make shots like that.

03.2 OT – Magic up by 2, 116-114, and the Cavs are going to need a miracle here. Let me take a wild guess – quick inbounds pass to Lebron followed by an off-balance last-second prayer.

00.0 OT – When you’re right you’re right. Quick inbounds pass to Lebron followed by an off-balance last-second prayer. No Game 2 deja vu here tonight, as the shot looks okay in the air but ultimately doesn’t fall. “Didn’t you think that was going to go in?” Doug asks Marv. “Yes,” he replies. But Doug’s not finished: “You just expect those shots to go in.” No, Doug. I don’t expect miracle three’s hoisted by a poor jump shooter to go in. Why would I expect that? If I had never watched a basketball game in my life, I still wouldn’t expect that. Why is Doug’s mic even on?

Final: 116 Magic – 114 Cavaliers. And Orlando leads the series 3 games to 1 “over the team that went 66-16 during the regular season,” Marv reminds me. Wow.

If you’re a Cavs fan, if you’re an NBA fan, or if you’re a Lebron James fan you have to be disappointed right now. The media had all but slipped the ring onto Lebron’s finger before the start of this series and now the basketball wunderkind is staring at a 3-1 deficit and three consecutive must-win games. It’s not a good spot for a 24 year old global icon to be in, that’s for sure. And it’s not as if his team is letting him down. That game was Lebron’s to win or lose, and he lost it. He took over, took the game into his hands, and he couldn’t pull it off. Maybe he just had an off night, but Lebron looked a whole lot like a kid trying desperately to live up to his own hype. 

Lebron finished the night with 44 points. Every time the MVP has scored over 40 in this series, the Cavs have lost. Dwight Howard, on the other hand, only scored 27 but 10 of them came in overtime to seal the win for his Orlando Magic. Is it out of line to say that the next however-many games will play a large part in defining the future of Lebron James? If his Cavs can pull off the miracle comeback with him leading the way, then Lebron will waltz into the second stage of his career as a confident closer. Even if they force a Game 7 and lose a hard-fought contest, he can still point to that as an accomplishment. But if the heavily-favored Cavs lose to the Magic in six games or – heaven forbid – five, then Lebron goes into next season as the savior who couldn’t quite live up to the hype, or at least hasn’t yet. If King James wants to wear the NBA crown, he’s going to have to come out and play like a champion for the next three games.

But after tonight, the only throne he deserves to sit on is porcelain.

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