Cavs/Bulls Game 4 Recap
LeBron James shows why they call him “The King”
by Bryan Crawford / @from_the_chi
There was basketball royalty in the United Center last night for Game 4 between the Bulls and the Cavaliers, and everybody was there to see the man they call “The King”. Former Bulls announcer Jim Durham–who called games during Michael Jordan’s early years with the legendary Johnny “Red” Kerr–was in the house, along with Dr. Jack Ramsey, Hubie Brown, Stu Jackson, Nike Basketball’s Senior Director Lynn Merritt, and William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley just to name a few. It was a who’s who in attendance last night and you got the feeling that it was going to be a night to remember. Well, it was if you were a Cavs fan, but for Bulls fans, it was night they wouldn’t easily forget.
As the Cavs exited the locker room to take the court for pre-game layups and shootaround, there was something noticeably different. Prior to taking the court for Game 3, the Cavs players came out of the locker room talkative, laughing, and joking with each other. Then they all huddled and did a very loud chant which caused quite the disturbance in the nearby media room underneath the arena. But last night was different. When the Cavs emerged from the locker room, nobody said anything. They huddled in a circle just outside their locker room door and it looked as if they were saying a prayer; that’s how quiet it was. And when the huddle broke, there were still no words coming from the players as they made their way to the court. You could tell that they weren’t playing around and you got the feeling that something bad was about to happen.
The Bulls played solid basketball for the first two quarters of the game and they were really competing. While nobody could anticipate what was going to happen the last two quarters of the game, the Bulls showed a lot of heart and competitive fire and they played as if it was an elimination game and not as if they were down 2-1 in the series. But there was only one problem. As hard as the Bulls played and fought, Cleveland wasn’t going anywhere. Case in point, with just under eight minutes to go in the second quarter, Chicago was down two points to Cleveland and the score was 32-30. Mike Brown subbed LeBron James in for Shaquille O’Neal and at that point, Bron only had 5 points. By halftime, the Bulls were down ten and LeBron had 17 points including a buzzer beater as time expired in the second.
It was one of those nights.
A lot of the assembled media were talking during halftime and the general consensus was that if the Bulls didn’t come out and make it a game within the first five or six minutes of the third quarter, the game would be over. They didn’t and it was. This is the part where I welcome you to the LeBron James show.
The Cavaliers turned up the defense on the Bulls in the third quarter and Chicago didn’t score their first field goal until four minutes had elapsed in the quarter. So much for coming out strong in the first five minutes. Meanwhile, LeBron James was doing his thing and he wasn’t just scoring, he was doing everything. Playing good defense, getting rebounds, handing out assists, he was all over the place. Said Head Coach Mike Brown, “He was extremely active all over the place. He really set the tone defensively, he was terrific for us on the weak side, he was great for us on the ball, and he talked defense the whole game.” And on offense, he made a made a shot that literally took the air out of the building.
As time was expiring at the end of the third quarter, he let a shot go from just a step over half court and knocked it down. The shot was from 34-feet out and he had perfect form, perfect follow-through, and it was all wrist.
I know that shot came at the end of the third, but it signaled the end of the night for Chicago as that one put them down 23 points with no hope of coming back. LeBron James finished the game with a triple double after flirting with them the last two games. He scored 37 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out 11 assists. But the talk of the night was his half-court jump shot. “I can comfortably shoot that shot,” said James. “It was a regular jump shot for me. Comfortably, I can walk and dribble into a half court three [pointer].”
And you know he’s not lying either.
If you watched him in February at All-Star Weekend in Dallas, he put on that kind of display when the Eastern Conference tried to break a Guinness Book record of most half court shots made in one minute. If I’m not mistaken, Bron hit four of them, but they were all jumpers. The rest of his teammates had to heave the ball just to get the shot at the rim. Just like last night’s shot, it was an impressive display of his strength and his power and it solidified that he is a once in a generation–maybe even a lifetime–athlete. As a non-Lebron James fan, even I had to sit back and admire his awesomeness. Said Mo Williams on that shot, “Seeing him do that is always fun to watch. It takes a lot out of a team. We’re already up 20 and he’s hitting shots like that. You just sit back like an opponent and wonder what can we do.”
The Bulls are certainly wondering what they can do to keep their season alive heading into Cleveland for a Game 5 elimination match. While they weren’t hanging their heads as they exited the arena, being on the brink of starting their summer in April certainly has to be on their minds. Said Derrick Rose during his post-game presser, “I know that we have to play another game, but my confidence level is high and my team will follow me.”
I don’t know if that’s a harbinger of good things to come, but Bulls fans are certainly hoping so. Game 5 is tomorrow night in Cleveland.