King James Uses Marshall Plan to Beat NetsGreat all around play by LeBron James (23 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) and timely three point shooting by Donyell Marshall (18 points, 6-10 from three point range) carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to an 88-72 Game Six victory over the New Jersey Nets. The win earned the Cavaliers a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face the Detroit Pistons, who eliminated the Cavaliers from the 2006 playoffs in a hard fought seven game series. James struggled a bit with his shooting (8-20 from the field, 6-9 from the free throw line) but he set the tone early in the game and made several big plays down the stretch. Jason Kidd (19 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) led the Nets in scoring, rebounds and assists and did not commit a single turnover; the only blemish on his stat line was 7-20 shooting from the field. Richard Jefferson added 16 points and eight rebounds but the third member of New Jersey's "Big Three," Vince Carter, scored just 11 points on 4-11 shooting. Carter also had five rebounds, four assists and five turnovers.
James had 14 points and four rebounds as Cleveland took a 32-15 lead by the end of the first quarter. He did not score at all in the second quarter but New Jersey was only able to cut the margin to 53-38 by halftime as Bostjan Nachbar hit a three pointer just before the buzzer, his only points of the game. Kidd made his first three shots of the third quarter but Cleveland still led 59-46 when James picked up his fourth foul at the 6:50 mark. He went to the bench for the remainder of the quarter and apparently took the Cavs' entire offense with him; New Jersey closed the quarter with a 14-2 run and only trailed 61-60 going into the final 12 minutes. Kidd had 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in the third quarter.
James returned at the start of the fourth quarter. His presence alone was enough to stop New Jersey's run. The Nets never took the lead but they did manage to stay close for most of the fourth quarter. In fact, they got to within 64-63 at the 9:38 mark after Kidd grabbed an offensive rebound and fired a gorgeous bounce pass from the top of the key that found its way around several hands to Mikki Moore, who scored and drew a foul. Moore made the free throw but the Nets did not score again for the next 2:30 and the Cavs began to pull away. Cleveland finally broke the game open with a barrage of three pointers, several of which came after passes from James, who also scored seven points in the period. The Nets ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, scoring just 12 points, but that was actually a typical fourth quarter performance for them in the latter part of this series; New Jersey averaged 11.3 points on .127 shooting in the fourth quarters of Games Four, Five and Six.
Although the Nets ultimately came up short, the Elias Sports Bureau reports that Kidd became just the second player to average a triple double for an entire postseason (14.6 ppg, 10.9 apg, 10.9 rpg); Oscar Robertson averaged 28.8 ppg, 11.0 rpg and 11.0 apg in 1962 when his Cincinnati Royals lost 3-1 in the first round to the Detroit Pistons. Amazingly, Robertson averaged 30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 11.4 apg for that entire season, the only time that an NBA player has averaged a triple double for a season.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:46 AM