CLEVELAND – After being challenged by his trainer and accidentally beaten by an opponent, LeBron James responded with one of the most dominant performances in the last quarter of his 15-year career in the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-109 victory. over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.
James scored 23 of his 33 points in the fourth, helping the Cavs overcome a seven-point deficit in the second half and extend their winning streak to six games. The 23 points of James were one of their maximum of the regular season during the last quarter (January 6, 2008, against the Toronto Raptors), according to ESPN Stats & Info.
James did his biggest damage since 4:25 in the fourth to the 55.6 seconds mark, scoring 18 consecutive points, tying the most points scored in the last five minutes of a game. During the span he went from 6-6 from the floor, including 2 for 2 from the 3-point range, while the Nets went 11-11 (0-for-4 from 3). According to Elias, it was the most consecutive points that James scored in the fourth quarter.
But the dominant fourth was preceded by a bit of adversity. In the first quarter, James missed an overturned general who could have taken Cleveland's lead to 10, and then attempted a poorly advised 3-point shot that gave Brooklyn an open window to return to the game. That sequence caused Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to rise to his star in the break.
Then, in the third quarter, James collided with center Nets Tyler Zeller and had to return to the locker room to receive stitches to close a rip on his lip.
"Well," said Lue when a reporter suggested that Zeller's hit woke James. "I was playing, I told him at halftime:" You're playing. "He got a little bit upset, and that's okay, he gets hit again."
Lue was shy when asked what James specifically did in the first half to disappoint him, saying, "I forgot."
James, meanwhile, downplayed his performance and accepted criticism from his coach. After receiving enough stitches to "close the wound", James went back to review the game and caused the Cavs to run, he said, "just trying to make plays, be badertive, help my team win … Blessed to be able to do a couple on the stretch. "
And as for Lue's criticism?
"What T-Lue says goes, so, you know, he knows how to challenge me sometimes," James said. "After the pin [missed] I arrived and started for a 3 – that was a bad shot, but they felt that the other one on the corner was a bad shot, against the big one, and they asked for a timeout after that point and like that I took the team's life, so I know it starts and ends with me, so I have to be better, what it was in the second half. "
James has been at his best in the fourth quarter this season, averaging 10 points in the quarter, easily the best in the NBA. Kristaps Porzingis of New York is second with 7.7, and DeMarcus Cousins of New Orleans is third with 7.6. Former Cavs guard Kyrie Irving is fourth.
In comparison, James averages 8.3 points in the first, 5.7 in the second and 5.5 in the third.
"My team now looks at me to be the scorer," said James. . "In recent years, Kyrie, obviously being as good as he was in the last quarter, chose our games, there were games half the time he had it running and, hey, go for it." There were games half the time I had and I would like to go, but now my teammates look at me and say, OK, like this is your room, you've done this your whole career. some things ". And it's very important that I try to help them. "
Cavs forward Kevin Love said the team appreciated what happened to James.
" Sometimes it's being aggressive and choosing your places and other times it's like that. "Out of the way," said Love about James' approach. "And tonight, I do not know how many he had in a straight line, 18 in a row, I mean it was a special performance in the last quarter, but he seems to have always done that, but this year in particular, he has done an incredible job of doing that. for us ".
Dwyane Wade, who embarks on his fifth season with James between Miami and Cleveland, could not remember again when an injury caused him a career like that.
"I do not," Wade said. "Because all he has is a sprained ankle, it's the only thing I've ever seen him, that was the first time he went to the dressing room and he had a point, I think, so … welcome (to the club). "
Whether it was Zeller's face or Lue's words, everything that got into James clearly worked.
"Tell him and he'll get angry (and he'll respond) like, 'I'm not playing.'" Lue said before revealing that he was doing a self-censorship with cameras rolling at his post-game press conference. "But I did not say 'bothering' but, yes."
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, as expected, said James was the one who made the difference.
"LeBron really took over," said Atkinson. "There's no other way to say it, we never found a solution to stop him in the fourth quarter, we were trying different things, I think we could have caught him, but he's a big pbader we did not want to give up. You have to give him a lot of credit. . "
And James conveyed that eulogy to his teammates.
"You can not force it," James said. "You have to let it come to you, it's the time you want to be able to do it and sometimes when the ball just does not come in. But I put a lot of work into my trade and I think every shot that Take is going to go in. But without that my teammates put screens and defend themselves, get rebounds, cut and things of that nature, then none of that is even possible for me, so they get more credit "