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Boxscore Breakdown: LeBron’s MSG Moment

Posted by Neil Paine on February 5, 2009

Just when you thought the near-constant LeBron-Kobe debate might cool down a bit this week in favor of Boston-vs-L.A./Finals-rematch talk, Bryant went out and destroyed the Knicks to the tune of 61 points in a win on Monday night. Not to be outdone by his fellow Redeem Team mate, King James handed the Knicks a jaw-dropping performance of his own on Wednesday, dismantling N.Y. with 52 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds in a 107-102 win at the Garden. And so it is against that backdrop that we once again dive into the LBJ-vs-KB24 fray to bring to you yet another (boxscore) breakdown by the Knickerbockers at MSG...

4 Factors  Pts Poss eFG% TOr  OR%  FTr  ORtg
----------+---+----+----+----+----+----+-----
Cleveland  107  91  52.5  7.7 19.0 28.8 117.3
NY Knicks  102  91  50.0 13.2 22.7 22.9 111.8
----------+---+----+----+----+----+----+-----
Player           Tm   Pos  Min Poss PProd ORtg  %Pos DRtg  Floor% Stops Stop%
----------------+----+---+----+----+----+------+----+-----+-----+-----+------
LeBron James     CLE  SF   44  40.1 52.3 130.3  48.0 108.6 0.603   9.6  0.574
Ben Wallace      CLE  PF   24   4.0  4.4 110.1   8.7 109.8 0.548   5.0  0.548
Z. Ilgauskas     CLE  C    29  14.8 15.2 102.5  26.9 113.2 0.485   5.2  0.471
Wally Szczerbiak CLE  SG   40   8.3 11.9 144.7  10.9 107.1 0.614   9.2  0.608
Mo Williams      CLE  PG   37  12.4 10.6  85.8  17.6 117.0 0.341   5.4  0.387
Anderson Varejao CLE  C    26   2.4  2.4  98.4   4.9 110.6 0.500   5.2  0.531
Daniel Gibson    CLE  PG   31   7.4  8.7 117.8  12.6 115.7 0.435   4.9  0.417
J.J. Hickson     CLE  PF   10   1.2  2.4 200.0   6.4 109.0 1.000   2.1  0.565
----------------+----+---+----+----+----+------+----+-----+-----+-----+------
Al Harrington    NYK  PF   42  22.7 31.7 139.7  28.4 113.9 0.642   8.7  0.546
David Lee        NYK  C    35   9.9 13.3 134.1  14.9 118.9 0.617   5.8  0.433
Jared Jeffries   NYK  C    12   4.1  4.2 100.8  18.2 110.5 0.452   2.8  0.623
Chris Duhon      NYK  PG   31  12.7 11.4  89.8  21.5 117.1 0.396   5.6  0.474
Q. Richardson    NYK  SF   25  10.4  6.3  60.4  21.9 119.0 0.250   4.1  0.431
Wilson Chandler  NYK  SF   20   8.1  5.9  73.1  21.2 122.9 0.313   2.6  0.343
Nate Robinson    NYK  PG   28   9.1 11.3 123.5  17.2 122.2 0.559   3.8  0.360
Tim Thomas       NYK  PF   24   8.0  9.1 114.4  17.5 113.5 0.465   5.1  0.555
Danilo Gallinari NYK  SF   24   6.4  7.0 110.0  13.9 121.3 0.448   3.5  0.379
----------------+----+---+----+----+----+------+----+-----+-----+-----+------

Recall that the Knicks' defense, ranked 22nd in the league with a defensive rating of 109.8, allowed 122.9 points per 100 possessions to the Lakers (who were averaging around 115 pts/100 against the league) on Monday night, and last night they allowed only a slightly less embarrassing 117.3 pts/100 to the Cavs (season average: 113.9). Which essentially makes for a wash between L.A. & Cleveland's offenses in their Knick-thrashings. Clearly, whatever defensive adjustments Mike D'Antoni made in the wake of Kobe's destructive performance earlier in the week didn't really make much of a difference against Cleveland. Basically, N.Y.'s D still struggled mightily to get stops in the face of such a dominant individual performance.

Needless to say, given his stat line (52 being the most points in a triple-double since the ABA-NBA merger) LeBron had a terrific game: 130.3 ORtg on 48% of Cleveland's possessions while on the court, plus assists on 65% of his teammates buckets, plus a turnover on only 7.5% of his possessions, plus he hauled in 24.8% of Knick misses on the defensive glass and blocked 3.8% of their shots when on the floor! He simply could not be stopped when he attacked the basket; the Knicks had no one who could even offer the least bit of resistance on James' runaway-freight-train drives to the hoop. Tim Thomas fouled out in 24 minutes of trying to contain The King, and Wilson Chandler & Q-Rich picked up 3 fouls apiece in the same futile effort.

As for the inevitable LeBron-Kobe comparison, here's how this week's two Knick-killings match up head-to-head:

Player        ORtg  %Pos  DRtg Floor% Stop%  T/Min %Pass %Shoot %Fouled %TO
Kobe Bryant   156.4 39.8 121.2 0.687  0.312  1.80  26    46     24      3
LeBron James  130.3 48.0 108.6 0.603  0.574  2.61  56    29     12      3

Player        Min  P/36  2P%  3P%   FT%  TS%  qAst  %FGA
Kobe Bryant   37   59.4  64.0 50.0 100.0 76.6 68.9% 47.9%
LeBron James  44   42.5  57.7 28.6  84.2 62.9 29.0% 45.0%

Player       AsR   ToR  PPR  FTr  3Ptd  OR%   DR%  Blk% Stl%
Kobe Bryant  20.1  6.4  0.00 64.5 19.4  0.0   0.0  2.0  0.0
LeBron James 65.0  7.5  9.85 57.6 21.2  0.0  24.8  3.8  0.0

This really serves to highlight the differences between the two megastars' respective games... Kobe had the ball in his hands much less than LeBron, and he got his points more in the flow of the offense (remember, Pau Gasol also scored 31 against N.Y.), utilizing the long-range and mid-range game to greater effect than LBJ. On the other hand, 'Bron was a much better all-around performer, dishing to teammates at a great rate (for reference's sake, Chris Paul's league-leading assist ratio is 54.2 so far this season) and pulling down rebounds at a nice clip as well (recall that Kobe had zero boards on Monday). And defensively, LBJ was also better than Kobe against N.Y. Given all that, between the two performances, which one was better? Well, (cop-out in 3...2...) I'd say it's a tie -- give Kobe the scoring edge and LeBron the win everywhere else. So naturally, the battle royale between these two hardwood geniuses rages on, with no resolution in sight...

I would be remiss, though, if I didn't mention Al Harrington's nice offensive output tonight (139.7 ORtg on 28.4% of N.Y.'s possessions) as well. Harrington's a guy we often consider overrated around these parts (his 4.6 career WS/3000 min. is well below average), but I have to give a player his due anytime he scores 39 on a 74.4 TS%. Well done, Al, even though it came in a loss and was overshadowed by 'Bron-'Bron's insane output.

Anyway, you should definitely still pay attention to that Finals rematch on Thursday. But put a few extra circles on your calendar around Sunday's Lakers-Cavs game, too, because with their recent performances, Kobe and LeBron have raised the expectations for their upcoming showdown to levels that even I couldn't have imagined going into the week. Who would have thought that Boston-L.A. would only be the 2nd-most anticipated game of the next four days?

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2 Responses to “Boxscore Breakdown: LeBron’s MSG Moment”

  1. clato1100 Says:

    what is a triple double????

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    If that question is actually serious, you're probably at the wrong website. At the very least, you're reading the wrong blog...