LeBron’s Bad Night
When LeBron James takes the floor, rarely do you expect his postgame stat line to read like this: 21 points (7-21 shooting), ONE rebound, ZERO assists. The subpar shooting is understandable, but the rebounding and especially the assists? What happened there? Adding insult to bad overall game nights is the fact Yao dunked on LeBron. Granted, a player who stands 7′-6″ doesn’t have far to go to get to the rim, but LeBron went for the block and got dunked on for his efforts. I especially enjoyed the reaction of the crowd, who reacted to Yao’s dunk like it was a six-foot nothing player who dunked on James.
For their efforts, the Rockets won, holding the Cavaliers to their lowest offensive output of the season. If you are wondering how the Rockets were able to keep James under control — Zero assists? Really? — True Hoop has a post discussing this very thing. An excerpt:
Rick Adelman chooses Artest to be LeBron James’ primary defender. Artest’s defensive strategy on LeBron is apparent from the outset of the game — run under any and all perimeter screens, yielding LeBron anything he wants from the outside…
…In addition to blocking James’ last shot attempt of the night, Yao demonstrates some quality help defense at the 8:05 mark of the third quarter. He draws James on the switch just below the right elbow. Not unlike Battier, Yao seems to be defending the area around the basket as much as he’s defending James. With the middle clogged, James elects to step back and fire an off-balanced fade-away jumper from about 12 feet, which doesn’t look good.
Essentially, try to hold him to jump shots and make him give up the ball on pick and rolls. The idea sounds fairly easy, but the execution of it, especially when dealing with a player like James is easier said than done.
H/t to YBB for the video find.