NEW YORK — That was some exotic craft LeBron James docked in the slip by remote control from long distance to win Game 2 on Friday night.
Yet if the Cavaliers get bounced by this increasingly confident cluster of unflinching Magic men — one second away from being halfway to paradise/ sweeping the series in the subsequent two games in Orlando — LeBron’s 8-meter stiletto will be just an implausible footnote . . . one of the greatest moments manufactured from nothing when he “used to play for the Cavs.”
Who’s really all that surprised The Chosen One received so much bewildering help from The Frozen One?
Just before Mo Williams’ precision in-bounds assist for the electrocuting 3-point shocker, I was wondering if a Coach-of-the-Year had ever been fired the same season he was honored.
That’s how insufferable things had become for the Cavs within the space of 48 minutes times two. Mike Brown and his Band of Renown were on the verge of blowing their second straight home game in which they held large leads (23 points Friday) in the first half.
Eight consecutive victories, all by double figures, in two previous rounds against the Pistons and Hawks, had heightened expectations to a championship pitch.
Anything less is unacceptable. This was far-flung less. When in doubt, blame the referees; that’s how I was taught.
If unfeasible, then blame the losing head coach. That would’ve been Brown had equivalent, Stan “The Frozen One” Van Gundy not kindly intervened.
For some incomprehensible reason, Orlando’s always befuddled-looking coach potato decided not to have 2-0-cm Rashard Lewis or Tony Battie jump in front of the 185-cm Williams while he was trying to inbound to James . . . “option A, B, C and D,” accentuated Mo . . . and don’t even try to start something by citing how Zydrunas Ilgauskas was wide open.
Apparently, the Frozen One blew off that “Tactics and Techniques” class while studying under Pat Riley.
Evidently, his father didn’t share all his college coaching secrets with Stan and Jeff at the dinner table.
Obviously, the Lamar Odom-Anthony Carter-Trevor Ariza steal sequence in Game 1 of the Nuggets-Lakers matchup escaped his keen observance . . . as did Phil Jackson’s entire Knicks career, which featured him jumping in front of countless inbound passers, arms frenetically waving, legs spread-eagled.
With nobody to obstruct Williams’ view or block his passing artery, he was able to take his sweet time and throw a perfect chest pass to James for a Navy Seal-sniper-like shot he practiced continuously as a kid in his backyard or on the playground and persists in practicing to this day; the higher degree of difficulty, the easier he seems to down them.
Naturally, The Frozen One acknowledged the breakdown as “my fault,” a ploy to deflect further questions. Van Gundy refused to say specifically how he would defend the play if he had it do over “in case it comes up again.”
Yeah, the last thing the man with the plan wants to do is tip off the opposition to a method every coherent coach employees in that situation one hundred percent of the time.
Meanwhile, TNT’s Doug Collins failed to so much as mention Van Gundy’s flagrant malfunction. Sure enough, the Emmy award-winning stupefied studio panel — Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Reggie Miller and Ernie Johnson — were uniformly clueless.
The first three times each had a chance to speak on the post-game show they didn’t come close to identifying that a strategic error had been committed.
Instead, Miller improperly harped on Hedo Turkoglu’s supposedly bad defense on LeBron; it was flawless.
How outlandish was that stance?
Even a buffoon like Barkley didn’t fall for it.
Meanwhile, I was left pondering at what point after LeBron’s shot went in did The Frozen One realize he had accomplished the unachievable and cost the Magic a sure conference final victory in a single, solitary second?
Dreadful enough the Frozen One gave the Cavs a preventable chance to come back from the dead, but he also allowed The Chosen One to regain his wits. Nobody in the stands or in NBA studios or on press row even hinted LeBron had come completely unglued for the preponderance of the fourth period before releasing that smart bomb.
I hadn’t seen LeBron’s court in such disorder since the 2007 Finals, when the Spurs’ defense forced him to launch a campaign of mostly misguided satellite missiles.
Hadn’t seen uncertainty in his game — when to shoot, when to pass, when to drive — hence two charges, a walk, a snuff by Mickael Pietrus, forced forays to the hoop — or his mind more muddled since the first he went up against Kobe.
Hadn’t seen a superstar wilt (sorry, Dipper) like that in a must-have game since Kevin Garnett competed in the playoffs for the Timberwolves.
Peter Vecsey covers the NBAfor the New York Post.
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