May 27, 2007 -- STEVE Jones (among other NBA analysts) used to say when a player has it going, you give him the ball until he flames out or his shooting arm goes dead.
So, how do we explain the Cavaliers going away from LeBron James for almost 13 minutes (after he took the first shot) at the start of the second half of Game 2, considering he controlled the first two quadrants - if that’s your description of scoring 14 points?
In the advanced opinion of Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, it was unfathomably imprudent to stop supplying James with touches. If you’re coach Mike Brown, how do you not order your team’s weapon of mass destruction be kept fully loaded?
Sure, that’s one way of looking at it in the one-dimensional, mechanically-responsive way.
Narrow-minded, negligent thinking like that has inspired column contributor Chip Stern (and he actually likes Sir Cumference) to dub TNT’s trio the Axis of Feeble.
Yes, learned coaches and players and analysts forever have preached about feeding the can’t-miss shooter, especially a team’s meal ticket, until shots regularly stop falling. But I never heard about continuing that practice from one half to the next. Still, as noted, James was the go-to guy out of the shoot, so to speak, and misfired once.
Whatever it is, it’s exceptionally more important - preach those same erudite coaches, players and analysts - to get teammates worthy of being involved in the offense shots early and often. Particularly in playoff games when hands tend to tremble and posteriors predispose to pucker more noticeably. Especially at third-round, sucking-for-air atmospheric pressure.
The hope is to have shooters other than the focal strike force owning at least a resemblance of rhythm and self-reliance to knock down open looks when the jury foreman is about to read the verdict.
How many times have we heard Kobe criticized for trying to settle matters by his lonesome in the first, second and third quarters rather than bide his time, go with the flow and dominate when it counts down the stretch? How often has the Lakers’ soloist been brought up on charges of not trusting his band enough?
Imagine the waterfall of pontificating from the Axis of Feeble had LBJ carried the scoring weight for 45 minutes then turned to his non-supportive cast for help when a swarm of suffocating defense forced him to pass.
Brown (through James) unsuccessfully tried to include Zydrunas Ilgauskas in third-quarter action. In Game 1 his presence, points (22) and rebounds (13) were pivotal.
If the Cavs are to prevail, logic dictated Z must be in the offensive mix. Yet in Game 2, he took an absurd six attempts in 27 minutes. Nobody can make a case they “got off.”
Today, Chip is basking in the love. Kudos, old pal, kudos.
Chip Stern, Peter Vescey - let god sort it out.