CLEVELAND -- If you want something done ... what you do is either score or assist in 32 consecutive points in a virtuoso performance.
The 112-102 (
"When my guys make shots, it makes it a lot easier because it allows me to go one-on-one with a defender,'' said James, looking tired after his triple-double of 37 points (on 24 shots), 14 rebounds and 12 assists in 46 minutes. "That's what I need from my guys. I don't add no more pressure on my teammates, but they know we're a very strong team when they knock down shots.''
And yet James succeeded in showing another side of his leadership. Having gone out of his way all year long to be one of the guys, he turned into the boss Thursday and let his teammates know he needed more than they'd been giving. He didn't appear to embarrass anyone, but he didn't indulge
After Varejao had fumbled a fourth-quarter pass back to James, who responded by passing it out wide to Gibson for a three to put Cleveland up 97-93, James turned to Varejao with his fingers clenched to implore him to hold onto the ball. Clearly those orders were taken in the proper spirit, for with 1:07 remaining, Varejao was catching and finishing a sharp James pass along the baseline for the run-ending three-point play (107-96).
"That's what great players do,'' said Cleveland coach
The Cavaliers created opportunities for James by delivering him the ball at the top of the key, where it was hard to double-team him as he began his dribble. James went 15-for-19 from the foul line and is averaging 16.6 free-throw attempts in the series. "When you are getting close to 20 free-throw attempts every night, that's just going to make it tough,'' said Orlando coach
But that's not all they need to fix.
Another negative trend for Orlando was the requisite poor start in this building. The Magic found themselves down 34-12 in the opening quarter before they made their typical extended second-period run to pull within 56-55 at the half. That move left the audience disheartened and often silent while brooding over the likelihood of Orlando closing out the series by winning a second game in Cleveland -- as many as the Cavs had yielded over the entire regular season.
In Cleveland's favor was the return to form of
As for James, what else can be tried? The league MVP is averaging an unfathomable 41.2 points, 8.2 assists and 8.6 rebounds to keep his team afloat. "The game is basically all LeBron all the time,'' said Van Gundy. Can he limit the LeBronathon to one final episode?