In case you didn’t know, LeBron James went berzerk on poor Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Bobcats top 10 ranked defense, making all but nine of his 33 shots and going 8-for-10 from 3-point range on his way to 61 points. That set a new career high as well as a new Miami Heat team record, breaking Glen Rice’s 55 point mark that has stood for nearly 20 years.
Social Media went nuts and King James was thrust firmly back in the hunt for his fifth MVP trophy, but in the grand scheme of things, his monster game actually hurt his stock rather than enhance it.
Now I know it sounds crazy to say someone scoring 60 points is a bad thing, but in LeBron’s case, it was.
Following his outburst we (well I certainly was anyway) were on the look-out for an encore of the highest level. That never came. Instead we were left somewhat let down as James “only” put up 22, 19 and 17 points respectively in the ensuing games, which were all losses.
His shooting efficiency during those three games against Houston, San Antonio and Chicago was a lowly 39.3 percent, compared to his ridiculously high 57 percent average for the season.
Granted he flirted with a triple double as per, finishing with 8 rebounds and 7 assists versus San Antonio then 9 boards and 8 dimes against Chicago, but let’s be honest who’s really looking at those numbers when you’ve just dropped 60 to start your week off?
And then there’s the issue of fatigue.
LeBron has always been a player who relies on his physical gifts to gain an edge over his opponents, often bullying his way into the paint. And for such a big guy (listed at 6’8”, 250lb- though the jury is still out on how accurate that is, especially his weight) it no doubt takes a lot of effort to do all that, particularly in the NBA where the opposition isn’t small either. Yet thanks to his superhuman stamina, he is able to battle through it all and has been putting up big numbers for the best part of a decade.
However with the NBA’s gruelling 82 games season and Miami playing nearly an extra season’s worth of games due to their three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, fatigue is bound to take its toll.
Erik Spoelstra, whether rightly or wrongly, left James in the game until the 1:24 mark of the fourth quarter despite the tie being dead buried by that point. That took his overall minutes tally to over 41 minutes, 10 more than any other Heat player.
The following night LeBron and Co. travelled to Texas for the first of a tough couple of games against Houston and last year’s NBA runner ups San Antonio. Prior to the Rocket’s game, LeBron said: “I’m extremely tired right now,” and at games end, he explained that he simply ran out of gas as the game went on.
“Second half, it just wasn’t there for me,” said James. “It just happens. It was one of those nights where your legs just kind of give, and you try to rely on everyone else.”
Am I knit picking? Absolutely. After all, averaging 20 points a game isn’t bad at all. But with the MVP race so tight, there’s no other alternative. LeBron James and Kevin Durant have left the rest of the field in their dust, but how else are we meant to decide who the big kahuna in the NBA is?
James did go on to lead his Miami Heat squad to a 99-90 victory over South East division rivals Washington to clinch a Playoff spot. He looked more like the embodiment of the LeBron James we know, posting 23 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in addition to being his uber-efficient self by making 10 of his 15 Field Goal attempts.
Meanwhile Kevin Durant continued his march for MVP supremacy by averaging 36 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in his last four games, including a triple double against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Your move King James.