Dominique Wilkins and other critics likely wouldn’t agree with Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford’s defense of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Tolliver’s efforts against LeBron James. Clifford says the forward tandem couldn’t have done anything else as James detonated for a career-high 61 points. Per the Charlotte Observer:
Clifford said at shootaround that MKG and Tolliver did precisely what was asked of them: Defend against James’s drives and passes first. But James had an incredible night from 3-point range (8-of-10) that couldn’t be anticipated or stopped.
“Consider the greatness of the player and the sequence of what happened,” Clifford said of James’ 22-of-33 shooting night. “He was in the pick-and-roll most of the time, which is where most of his baskets happened. As the ball was released, if you stopped (the video) and said, ‘Can we live with that shot?’ you’d realize MKG and Tolliver did a good job.
“If there’s somebody who could be blamed for that, then blame me. We did change our coverages somewhat (as the game transpired). You could have flat-out doubled him, but then they would have scored 150. (Kidd-Gilchrist and Tolliver) taking heat for that? No. That’s a coaching decision.”
Clifford added that for the season, James was shooting 34 percent from above the break (essentially the key area), so his 8-of-10 night from 3-point range couldn’t reasonably be expected.
“He’s a phenomenal player who had a phenomenal night,” Clifford concluded. “I just don’t want people saying it was the players’ fault. They actually did a good job.”