Back-to-back games decided by long, clock-expiring shots from the stars of their respective teams.
You can’t ask for much more than that.
That is, if you like exciting sports events and don’t care who wins.
Sorry, Bulls fans, about the 86-84 loss on Mother’s Day. It would have been nice to be up three games to one against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Now the teams are 2-2, with two of the final three games scheduled to be played in Cleveland. Advantage, Cavs.
But what we saw one more time in this sloppy yet fierce contest was the power of dominant talent and will.
Hello, LeBron James, the most booed man in recent memory at the United Center.
James made a fall-away jumper from the left baseline as the backboard flashed pink and Bulls ace defender Jimmy Butler jumped to alter or block the shot. It was a dagger to the neck of a Bulls team that sensed open roads ahead.
‘‘I thought Jimmy was right there,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau of James’ 21-foot prayer.
The trouble is, Jimmy was. It didn’t matter.
Neither did anything else that preceded the shot, such as Derrick Rose’s 31 points, Joakim Noah’s 15 rebounds or the fact Pau Gasol didn’t play because of a hamstring injury.
But Bulls folks who want to point to Gasol’s absence as an unfair blow should remember the Cavs lost
Kevin Love to a season-ending dislocated shoulder before this series even began.
As Thibs says, ‘‘Next man up.’’
What also preceded James’ winning shot was a subpar game from the huge, hybrid star. That is, James had missed 20 shots and committed eight turnovers. He also had mowed down Rose on a hell-for-leather charge to the basket that resembled Marshawn Lynch taking out a nickel back.
But that all was before the game-winner and, thus, irrelevant. James plays as though his brain has been washed clean before every possession. He can miss 200 shots in a row, and he’ll tell you the next one is a gimme.
Call it confidence. Call it arrogance. Call it selfishness. Call it transcendence.
Man, you have to be really cocky, as well as skilled, to overrule your own coach’s final play — which
James said he did to David Blatt’s original plan to have him inbound
the ball — and guarantee you’ll make the kind of shot you haven’t made
Then do it.
James’ stats were overwhelming — and not all in a good sense. He finished with 25 points on 10-for-30 shooting, 14 rebounds, eight assists and eight turnovers. Once again, he was only a couple of assists and a couple of turnovers away from an
‘‘I hate being this inefficient,’’ he said afterward. ‘‘I don’t like it, but that’s what my teammates want
That is, they want him doing his showtime thing always. Or so he declares. And it seems to be true.
‘‘Do you live and die with LeBron?’’ I asked Blatt.
‘‘Well, when I go out to dinner,’’ he said after a pause, ‘‘usually I get the check. You know why?’’
‘‘You have more money than anybody?’’ I offered.
‘‘No, that’s not it,’’ he said. ‘‘The reason is because I take it. Know what I mean?’’
Not really. Mmm, sort of. OK, I do.
LBJ takes it.