"Let him shoot! Let him shoot! Let him...oh, shit!"

The Chicago Bulls: Honestly, I'm not sure what else the Bulls could have done. They played a near perfect game.

No, they didn't shoot the ball well -- 44 percent as a team, including 4-for-13 from three-point range -- but they've been a limited offensive team all season. However, they flipped the script from Game 1 by taking care of the ball (only 4 turnovers), sharing the ball (25 assists), controlling the offensive boards (13-5), thriving off second-chance points (19), running out in transition (18 fast break points) and outscoring Cleveland 56-38 in the paint.

It very well could have been a winning effort...except for friggin' LeBron James.

King Crab scored a game-high 40 points, including 15 in the pivotal fourth quarter. But what was most demoralizing is how he scored those points. You expect James to be dominate around the basket, and he did, dunking the ball once and hitting all six of his layup attempts. This included a statement dunk on poor James Johnson and a spectacular up-and-under scooping layup on Noah.

But like I said, you expect that.

What you -- and, certainly, the Bulls -- don't expect is for LeBron to sizzle from the outside. During the regular season, James shot only 33 percent from downtown and had an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 43 percent on jump shots. King Crab might very well be the best player on planet Earth, but if there's a weakness in his game, it's his outside shooting.

Of course, people said the same thing about Michael Jordan in 1992, and we all know how that turned out. I think Clyde Drexler is still recovering from that revelation.

Anyway, LeBron went 9-for-16 from outside and 2-for-4 from beyond the arc, including one ridiculous trey right in Noah's mug. It was so freaky far away from the hoop that Joakim returned to the scene of the crime after the game to investigate the distance from which James took the shot.

Said Noah: "That's a long way. You've got to be kidding me."

As for LeBron, he didn't pull off any Jordan-like shrugs -- although he did do a little dance after hitting that three on Noah -- but he did address Chicago's strategy of trying to force him to shoot: "They were telling me I can't make jump shots. They asked me to shoot a jumper so I did that. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again." That's right. Eight "overs."

Damn, he's good. But damn, I hate him.

This sort of looks like the final shot from a movie
where a famous athlete helps a special needs child.

James Johnson, poster boy: Poor rookie.

After the game, LeBron -- overflowing with modesty -- reluctantly conceded that dunk was one of his greatest: "It definitely ranks up there. It's one of the best ones."

Joakim Noah, quote machine, Part 1: When asked whether he regretted making anti-Cleveland comments between Games 1 and 2, Noah's the video:

Joakim Noah, quote machine, Part II: "We were real focused at the beginning and we played with poise. It just came down to them hitting big shot after big shot. LeBron's pretty good. He's actually a very good player."

Joakim Noah, quote machine, Part III: "LeBron's hitting unbelievable shots. Yes, it's tough. But we've got to play them again, so I don't want to be up here and give LeBron all this credit. Yeah, he played an unbelievable game. It's tough right now. I hate to lose, so I'm a little frustrated by that. But we'll be ready to go come Thursday."

Joakim Noah: Ready to go.

Vinny Del Negro, quote machine: Time to update your spreadsheet of strange in-game promotions: The Cavs gave their fans a box of macaroni and cheese and encouraged them to shake it while the Bulls -- especially Noah -- were shooting free throws. (For the record, Noah, a career 70 percent foul shooter, went 5-for-5.) Regarding the promotion, Vinny said: "I'm Italian, I like macaroni. I'm hoping I can get a few boxes after the game. I love pasta. Penne, spaghetti -- I actually like linguine. I hope they pass some linguine out."

Huh. Suddenly feeling hungry.

The Denver Nuggets: Okay, let's get some things straight. The Utah Jazz are not a deep team, assuming "deep" means "having multiple talented players on their bench." Without Andrei Kirilenko, they have nobody to guard Carmelo Anthony. Minus Mehmet Okur, they were forced to start Kyrylo Fesenko at center, and Fesenko responded with more fouls and turnovers (5 and 2) than points and rebounds (4 and 2) in 20 minutes. All things being equal, the Nuggets should have taken a 2-0 series lead last night.

Didn't happen tho'.

Chauncey Billups: Mr. Big Shot finished with 17 points despite shooting only 4-for-11. Billups finished with almost as many fouls and turnovers (10) as assists (11), but that's not why he's here. It's because his counterpart, Deron Williams, owned him so thoroughly that I half-expected to see Deron try to sell Chauncey on eBay. Williams went off for 33 points and 14 assists. He was 7-for-14 from the field, 3-for-4 from downtown and a mind-boggling 16-for-18 from the foul line.

Said Billups: "D-Will and Booz, they had their way." And Williams had his way with you, Chauncey. I'm just sayin'.

J.R. Smith: Remember how he exploded in the fourth quarter of Game 1? And how I said Smith can shoot his team in or out of a game? Well, in Game 2, J.R. went 3-for-10, including 1-for-6 from three-point range.

Carmelo Anthony: 'Melo made a living at the free throw line Anthony -- 14-for-15 for the game -- but he went 9-for-25 from the field and fouled out of a playoff game for the first time of his career.

Did I mention that four of his six fouls were of the offensive variety? The foul out forced Anthony to miss the final 25 seconds of the game, which was a pretty big deal considering Denver was down one point at the time and only lost by three.

Said Boozer: "Him not being in there the last 25 seconds was huge for us."

Don't worry, 'Melo. The people of Utah still love you. Or...something. H/T AnacondaHL.

Of course, this is the NBA, so naturally there's a little controversy over 'Melo's sixth foul...

Officiating: Anthony got whistled for personal foul number six after taking a swipe at C.J. Miles. There was only one problem: Miles stepped out of bounds before Anthony did his Edward Scissor Hands impersonation. Unfortunately for Denver, the refs missed it. 'Melo had to take a seat and sank both freebies to put Utah up 110-107.

That's a pretty big play.

Said Miles: "I knew I was close but it was only because he was hitting me. He was trying to get the ball."

Speaking of fouls...

Hack-a-palooza 2010: That's what it was at the Pepsi Center last night, as the Jazz and Nuggets combined for 67 personal fouls and 91 free throw attempts. You read that correctly: 91 foul shots, 47 for Utah and 44 for Denver. What's more, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan got tagged with a technical foul and 'Melo got clled for a flagrant.

That's playoff basketball I guess.

Jerry Sloan, quote machine: "I think we tried to get to [Anthony] a little bit earlier. In the game before we let everybody go where they wanted to go. Sometimes you get tired of taking a butt kicking."

Kevin Garnett: Here's KG's reaction to his one-game suspension for going all Macho Man Randy Savage on Quentin Richardson:

"No, I wasn't surprised at all, to be honest," said Garnett. "I told my man, [Celtics vice president of media relations] Jeff Twiss, when we were talking that I just want my message to be done, and all of this to be over with. My message here is: Whoever it is, my teammates, [Celtics coach] Doc Rivers, or anyone in the organization, I want them to know I got their back.

"The elbow wasn't deliberate. The league does what it has to do to set the tone. I respect that. It's time to move on and get back to a wonderful series."
Not deliberate? Really, KG? C'mon, man. You don't swing a lethal elbow like that non-deliberately. It's impossible.

Naturally, Garnett tried to throw a little blame Richardson's way:

"You know how it goes," said Garnett. "The person that usually instigates something is not the one that usually gets the penalty. But it's over. It's what it is. We've both been dealt with."
As Basketbawful reader That's not in the book said: "All aboard the KG Train O' Dislogic: He's 'got his (team's) back,' Quentin Richardson 'instigates something,' yet the thrown elbow 'wasn't deliberate.' Tab A does not Slot B in this argument."

Doc Rivers is riding KG's train:

"My only statement on the whole thing, I accept Kevin being suspended, if you go by the letter of the law, you kinda knew it was going to go that way," said Rivers. "But if your really want to stop the fights, you gotta suspend the agitator, too. I think right now, the agitator gets fined, the retaliator gets suspended in all these things. Until they stop the agitator, and fine them, and suspend them both, then you'll have these things."
??? Uhm, just watch. Hat tip to Deadspin, via Dan B.

Lacktion report: Two games was still enough for chris to eke out some lacktion:

Bulls-Crabs: James Johnson fouled thricely in 4:52 and added a brick and rejection for a +5 suck differential, while JJ Hickson held a Game Boy for a full 10 seconds to earn his second straight Mario!!!

Jazz-Nuggets: Kyrylo Fesenko went 100% for field goals in two attempts as starting big man, but for the rest of his 19:44 stint, he countered an assist and board as well with five fouls and two giveaways for a 7:6 Voskuhl. Othyus Jeffers jammed a brick into the proceedings and also took a rejection for a celebratory +2 in 3:07.

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Anonymous Karc said...
Hey Bawful, 'Melo fouled out of last year's West Final in Game 3, when Ariza (then of the Lakers) picked off the in-bounds pass late in the game. Granted, that was intentional because Ariza was going to ice the game with an open court dunk.

One question, was King Crab wearing those new Nike playoff shoes when he posterized James Johnson. Can't really tell from the pic -

Anonymous Ben said...
Kyrylo Fesenko = young Primoz Brezec?

Anonymous Shrugz said...
Did KG say all this while singing LL Cool J's "Mama said knock you out" in his head? I can imagine that.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
LeBron did a wink at the Bulls bench after one of those shots.

Also I'm blaming the Coyotes-Red Wings series for the Suns sucking. JRich from MSU roots for the Red Wings, and Amar''''''e was impressed by the Coyotes, Nash's love for hockey is dividing the team!

Anonymous Axe Head said...
James is just toying with the Bulls. The Bulls asked him to shoot jumpers and James politely obliges and shoots a bunch of jumpers??

After all the Jordan years, can't say I feel one iota of sorry for Bulls fans.

If James jumps ship and signs with Chicago, it will be earth-shattering.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Mac and cheese is as authentically Italian as those figli di puttana on Jersey Shore. VDN should know better.

All aboard the KG Train O' Dislogic: He's "got his (team's) back", Quentin Richardson "instigates something", yet the thrown elbow "wasn't deliberate." Tab A does not Slot B in this argument. It does lead to a big F U, C's!

Blogger Unknown said...
The sad thing was how bad Deng was getting used by Lebron that Hinrich had to guard him in the fourth. Hinrich's extended hand can barely reach Lebron's face.

Kyrylo Fesenko channeled Uwe Blab for his undominate game.

Blogger chris said...
If Drexler is still recovering, then by all means, Bryon Russell hasn't even gone to the doctor's yet.

Blogger gordon gartrelle said...
Lebron is the man and all, but come on, now--this is ridiculous:

They call me The Closer every time I come in in the fourth quarter,'' said James, who made 16 of 23 shots. "That's my time to put the game away or do what I do best, and that's just try to close the game the right way. Am I always successful? Not all the time, but it makes me stronger when I'm not always successful. I know how to react the next time I'm in that situation. So it's great to actually live up to what those guys now are starting to call me, The Closer.

from ESPN.

Blogger Unknown said...

Not only that, but Goran Dragic was at one of the early Diamondbacks home games sporting a baseball jersey. It's madness!

Captcha: "beers" No comment necessary.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
gordon gartrelle:

Does this mean I should start calling LeBron "Kyra"?

Anonymous Triple Double said...
The irony is that KG claims the instigator should be punished. Does he mean the guy on the court who was talking a lot of trash to the other team? Hmmm, who does that sound like? Seems to me Q was just speaking KG's language.

Anonymous thurst0509 said...

In case you missed it, a nice dirty quote from the Matrix:

"When it’s one-on-one, I’m straight. But when he’s got a pick coming, it’s hard, because he’s really slick and slithery. He’s really good at coming off the big man’s ass."

(source ESPN)

Blogger chris said...
Triple Double: I don't think it's ironic so much as, "well, maybe if it sounds like I'm being contrite, the Association will let me continues to run my mouth the rest of the series once I'm back." Because that sentence could be interpreted as, "Yeah, it's the fault of the guy who instigated it"...that guy being none other than Mr. Anything Is Possible himself, the de-facto coach of the C's.

Anonymous Triple Double said...
chris, you probably are right. But I had to laugh when I heard the C's and KG say that the instigator should be punished. To think that somehow these players are all robots that simply react with no conscience. This coming from the guy who routinely mouth's F-bombs on national TV and talks trash like it is going out of style. Ha. Q. talking trash was just too much. Cracks me up.