Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat

LeBron comes up big, then not so much vs. Pacers, but that’s OK, DWade’s got him


There’s this quote that’s hangs in the Spurs’ locker room.

“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

And lost in the insipid commentary on LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and their perceived level of clutch-ness or clutch-ocity or clutch-dom is the fact that both players? Both players are hammers.

And against the Indiana Pacers in Miami’s 93-91 victory Saturday night, that much was evident.

Here’s the play that most people are going to talk about and remember. With a little over 40 seconds, left in overtime, LeBron James probed the middle and with ten seconds left burst to the far side and pulled up for three. Here’s what happened.

So James misses, ten passes to Dwyane Wade, who hits the game winner. Same old script, right?

Except that LeBron nailed a huge three to overtime. He scored or assisted on 13 of their final 15 points. He had a chasedown block on Danny Granger in overtime. He nailed a three  in OT from somewhere in the Everglades, I think. He was everywhere. And he rose up and took the shot people said he should take. Didn’t hit. So he gave his buddy a whack at it.

The bigger point is that the Heat beat the Pacers in a game in which they did not particularly play well (nor, honestly, did Indiana, considering the domination Joel Anthony enjoyed on Roy Hibbert), and they would not have won that game without LeBron James. When we look at the MVP race, the clutch part is brought up immediately when it comes to James. What isn’t brought up is that without him, the Heat, even with all that talent, do not win as many games as they do with him. He is such a huge part of every victory, makes his presence felt in every facet of the game.

But still. Didn’t hit that shot.

The tapestry of the Heat’s victory has strands that involve team defense, late steals from LeBron, missed free throws from LeBron, a blown alley-oop from Wade to Haslem, Darren Collison falling down, an unforgivable and-one foul from Dahntay Jones on LeBron James who had a clear path to the bucket in transition (never try fouling James there and if you do, bring a 2X4). It’s never one shot, one play, one miss, one make.

It’s that hammer. And Saturday night Wade had the swing that split the rock, but James’ fourth quarter and overtime were just as much the cause of the schism as anything.

What championship hangover? Cavaliers rout Knicks on ring night in Cleveland.

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers finishes off a fast break with a dunk in the third quarter as Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks watches on October 25, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland defeated New York 117-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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There’s a good reason LeBron James has been to six straight NBA Finals. It’s not all about his incredible physical gifts. It’s not about the quality of his teammates.

It’s about will.

On a night when a lot of teams play like their hungover — the night they get their championship rings and a banner is raised to the rafters — LeBron played harder than anyone and pulled his team along.

LeBron had a triple-double — 19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds — and led the Cavaliers to an easy win over the Knicks, 117-86. Kyrie Irving had 29 points — 19 in the third — and Kevin Love added 23 in the win.

But mostly it was the Cavaliers’ offense getting whatever shot it wanted and the Knicks watching dunks from up close.

Over the course of this season, these Knicks will evolve into something better than they showed opening night. No Derrick Rose (trial) and no Joakim Noah (injury) meant the Knicks starting five didn’t have a lot of cohesion and chemistry from the start.

After a sluggish first five minutes by both teams — they were a combined 6-of-22 shooting to open the game — the Cavaliers slowly started to create a little space behind 10 first quarter points from Love. That lead really started to grow as the Knicks bench came in and went 0-of-6 shooting to end the quarter, with Brandon Jennings making questionable decisions. Tack on seven Knick turnovers and the first and they were down 10 after 12 minutes.

The Cavs were in control through much of the second quarter until the Knicks went on a 10-0 run to make it a game again. It was Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony driving the team — they shot a combined 12-of-20 in the first half, the rest of the Knicks were 5-of-23. It was 48-45 Cavaliers at the break.

In the third quarter the Cavaliers starters cranked it up behind Kyrie Irving and tighter defense — the third quarter saw Kyrie Irving with 19 points and the entire Knicks team with 19. It was 82-64 Cavs after three and the celebration was on.

Kristaps Porzingis showed some moments but his 16 points came on 5-of-13 shooting. Anthony had 19 points on 18 shots. Rose had 17 points but four turnovers and one assist. Brandon Jennings came off the bench to shoot 1-of-7. It was not their best night.

For the Cavs, it was one to remember — the first banner in 52 years went up.

Did we mention LeBron James was dunking all over Knicks? Watch for yourself.


LeBron James isn’t the only story out of the NBA season opener — Kyrie Irving had 29 points, Kevin Love had 23, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose were shotmaking.

But mostly, LeBron James was dunking. And racking up a triple-double (19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds). But mostly just dunking. Like you see above. Or there is this alley-oop.

Or, there was this putback throwdown.

And we can throw in a block on Courtney Lee just for fun.

Cavaliers moving ball, LeBron James dunking in season opener

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on in the first quarter against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Cavaliers were not in mid-season form on opening night — they started the game 3-of-12 from the floor and were 4-of-21 from three in the first half.

But they were showing flashes.

Like the LeBron James dunk above. Or this stretch of ball movement below.

The Cavaliers led the Knicks 48-45 at the half.

Watch LeBron James’ speech after getting his ring in Cleveland


“At this point, if you’re not from here, live here, play here, dedicate yourself to Cleveland, then it makes no sense for you to live at this point — Cleveland against the world!”

And with that, the Q went nuts.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers got their rings and raised a banner in Cleveland — the first title banner in that city in 52 seasons (although the Indians are trying to have their say on the matter across the street). It was emotional for everyone in the building, and particularly the hometown boy LeBron.

Check out the full ring ceremony.