Extra Pass: The other side of LeBron James’ 61-point game


When Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, Bobcats coach Steve Clifford blamed his team.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Clifford said. “We made mistakes that allowed him room. He got going.”

When LeBron James scored 61 points against Charlotte a few weeks later, Clifford credited LeBron.

“Tonight, we did the right things,” Clifford said. “If he’s going to shoot the ball like that from that range, there’s nobody that’s going to beat them.”

The Bobcats became the first team since at least 1963-64, as far back as Basketball-Reference’s record date, to surrender two 60-point games in the same season.* It’s a feat that takes a reasonable mix of poor defense and poor fortune.

*The 1985 New Jersey Nets came close, allowing 60 points to Bernard King (New York Knicks) and 59 to Purvis Short (Golden State Warriors).

Moreover, Charlotte could become just the fifth team since 1963-64 to allow a season’s two highest-scoring games.

2014 Charlotte Bobcats

  • 62 – Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
  • 61 – LeBron James, Miami Heat

2009 New York Knicks

  • 61 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • 55 – Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

1998 Golden State Warriors

  • 56 – Karl Malone, Utah Jazz
  • 50 – Tracy Murray, Washington Wizards

1983 Chicago Bulls

  • 57 – Adrian Dantley, Utah Jazz
  • 56 – Kelly Tripucka, Detroit Pistons

1967 Cincinnati Royals

  • 58 – Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers
  • 57 – Rick Barry, San Francisco Warriors

But unlike those other four teams, the Bobcats are actually good defensively. Here’s how each ranked in defensive rating out of the number of teams in the league that year:

  • 2014 CHA: 6/30
  • 2009 NYK: 23/30
  • 1998 GSW: 20/29
  • 1991 DEN: 27/27
  • 1983 CHI: 18/23
  • 1967 CIN: 9/10

The Bobcats are on pace to make just their second playoff appearance ever, and it’s because their defense is carrying them. Playing proud nearly every game, Charlotte just does not fit the profile of a team to get torched twice like this.

However, Charlotte’s biggest strength is grabbing defensive rebounds. When LeBron and Melo aren’t missing, that means only so much.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Can Thunder win 60 games?

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Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are healthy — just how good will the Thunder be?

The bold prediction in this PBT Extra preview with Jenna Corrado is that the Thunder will win 60 games, something they have not yet done. I wouldn’t bet on them hitting that number — with a new coach, and them making sure Durant and Westbrook get rest coming off injuries, plus the fact they’re in the deep West, that number may be high.

I think they have a better chance to come out of the West than win 60 games. I think they have a good shot to come out of the West.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”