Cavs 119, Knicks 105
--We're not going to talk about the Cavs tonight, this one is about LeBron. This is one of those historic nights that will always be remembered by New York basketball fans, which means something because it is the capital of the sport. LeBron gets 50 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and four steals at Madison Square Garden. He hits four 3-pointers in the last four minutes, an adoring, and I mean adoring fan charges the Cavs' huddle just to shake James' hand in the final seconds, he gets a standing ovation from the crowd. Here is what he said afterward when I asked him where this ranks in his career:
"This ranks real high right now. I've dreamed about playing well in this building. To get a standing ovation in the greatest basketball arena in the world, it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me."
--It has happened in other places, but the way the crowd just totally turned itself over to James was remarkable. A few years ago in Salt Lake City, the crowd got ripped by the local media when they cheered when James reached 50 points. Last year in Minneapolis, he had a huge game and the crowd cheered for him in the fourth quarter, which was my indication that they needed to blow that team up. Because this is the Garden, though, it is special. I am no big fan of New York, but there is no denying the significance. Down the stretch the crowd tensed whenever he got the ball and watched the scoreboard, which was wrong the entire fourth quarter because he had two too many points. Quite a moment. --I was just a few feet away when the fan came out of the stands. He was wearing a LeBron jersey and his eyes were just so wide. He was obviously in awe. Now, it is not good that a kid was able to get all the way across the court and into the Cavs huddle before being caught, but he never appeared to be a danger. The way LeBron embraced him, I thought for a moment that they knew each other. Here's what he said about it:
"That was a great feeling, he told me he loved the way I played. I respect him and his pride." Not endorsed by the NBA, I imagine.
--On a personal note, I feel like I will be telling this story for years. I was inches from giving up at Hopkins airport today and going home after I tried to get to all four New York area airports all day and didn't look like I was going to make it. I landed at 6 p.m. at Newark and took a harrowing cab ride to make it here in time. The lesson is this: you never know when you are going to see LeBron do something special. It may happen in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it may happen in the Garden, it may happen Saturday night against the Pacers.
Cavs: Delonte West, Devin Brown, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Anderson Varejao Knicks: Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson, Malik Rose, Eddy Curry
--I just got to the Garden less than 30 minutes before tip, it has been a terrible travel day for me. It was not Continental Airlines finest hour and it had nothing to do with the weather. So I'm a little behind and a little stressed. --West made it back from a family funeral and Wally Szczerbiak has rejoined the team. Mike Brown missed shootaround today with the flu, but he's going to coach tonight. Also, Zach Randolph is back for the Knicks after missing a few games with a bad foot. --Warning for the fainthearted, LeBron is wearing his Yankee shoes tonight. No comments please. --There's a huge buzz here because Stephon Marbury showed up when there's been a big drama about how Isiah Thomas had told him to stay away, etc., etc. Just more Knicks nonsense going on, but that is what all the NYC media is all over. --The Cavs never seem to play well at the Garden. Right now the Knicks have basically quit on the season but that may not mean anything. They are very strong in the post and David Lee has run circles around the Cavs in the past. That could be a key point tonight with Zydrunas Ilgauskas out with a back strain.
Halftime -- Cavs 58, Knicks 54 --LeBron has been very good in the first half, not just because of his power dunk and the 40-footer he made at the half (the longest make of his career, I think EDIT: Yes, thanks from the comments, he did make an 80-footer last season), but because he's killed the Knicks double teams with great passes. But this is not unusual. --The Cavs are been killed on the interior by the Knicks as I mentioned in the pregame. Eddy Curry's power and David Lee, a late addition to the starting lineup, are overmatching them. Anderson Varejao's ankle still isn't right and it show in his reactions to loose balls. Ben Wallace is not quick enough to deal with Lee right now either. Acutally, Joe Smith was great in his time, he had seven rebounds in 10 minutes. The Knicks have 30 points in the paint and are shooing 54 percent, if that keeps up the Cavs will lose. I'd suggest to Mike Brown to use Dwayne Jones, because at least he'd bang with Curry. Play him with Smith to avoid offensive lapses. --As I wrote about in the paper today, Devin Brown has been playing well since the trade. He played very well in the first half with 12 points. However, he is not a jump shooter and he seems to be taking more than he should. He is much better driving and finishing, the guy makes lots of junk shots around the rim.
Star LeBron, 50 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds
Quotes LeBron on whether he has ever thought about playing for the Knicks: "No, that might be worse than that fan running out on the court." LeBron on whether he's ever thought of leaving the Cavs: "You don't think about it, I am in a great situation. I am home, my family gets to see me play, the organization has been nothing up great to me I have no reason to think about going anywhere else at this point."