Dion Waiters hits LeBron James in face with pass (Video/GIF)

Cleveland Cavaliers backup guard Dion Waiters hit teammate LeBron James directly in the face with a pass during Friday night’s game against Brooklyn.Waiters got the pass to James quickly, but apparently a bit too quickly as James couldn’t get his hands up to grab the ball.Get your hands up, LeBron!Things worked out in the end as the Cavs beat the Nets 95-91, with James leading the way by scoring 22 points and dishing out 9 assists.H/T FTW.
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Andre Drummond decks James Johnson as revenge for being posterized (Video/GIFs)

Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond knocked Toronto Raptors forward James Johnson after Johnson posterized him on the prior offensive possession during the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game at The Palace at Auburn Hills.Johnson drove down the baseline and threw down an absolute monster one-handed dunk over Drummond:Naturally, Drummond was not happy, so when Johnson got the ball on the next Raptors possession and tried to drive to the basket, Drummond decked him with his forearm and hip:The play by Drummond sparked a minor scuffle on the court, and although no punches were thrown, four players (including Drummond) were given technical fouls. Drummond was called for a flagrant 1 for the body check on Johnson. Drummond finished with 7 points and 11 rebounds, but Johnson got the last laugh with 12 points and 8 rebounds as the Raptors won the game 110-100. The Pistons have now lost 12 straight games at home.H/T BC.
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LeBron James’ Departure Showing Clear, Obvious Flaws of Miami Heat Roster

A lot of inches of column space were devoted, in the preceding four seasons, to celebrating the Miami Heat’s Big Three.

A once-in-a-generation stable of selfishly selfless hardwood maestros—they took less money in salary to make more in endorsements; they accepted downticks in their counting stats to raise their profiles within the sport—LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade owned the Association.

Though James was always the greater among equals—he won the MVPs and earned the GOAT talk—there was always a notion that he needed the Heat nearly as much as the organization relied on him. Miami, after all, is where he won his first two titles and appeared in four of his five NBA Finals.

The events of this season, however, have called that narrative into question.

James and his Cleveland Cavaliers are coasting after an early-season swoon. Before losing three of their last four, LeBron and Co. ripped off a seven-game winning streak that quieted concerns that the King’s new Big Three were an ill-fitting bunch.

While James himself is still off his game—per Basketball-Reference.com, he’s posting the lowest total win shares per 48 minutes since his rookie season, and his 58.5 true shooting percentage is his worst since 2007-08—his teammates are beginning to jell. Kyrie Irving is having a career season, and every day, Kevin Love looks more like the sweet-shooting double-double machine he’s been throughout his career. The 2014-15 Cavs, the hoops world has conceded, will be just fine.

But the Heat likely won’t be.

Chris Bosh has been a solid, steadying force in Miami’s lineup, but the expectation that he would considerably raise his game in James’ absence now feels foolish. Bosh has been productive—the addition of a three-point shot to his repertoire was huge—but, while he’s doubtless Miami’s best player, he’s a bit overmatched as a No. 1. Bosh’s Heat-leading 2.2 win shares are good for just 41st in the NBA, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

In short, if your best player is the 41st-best player in the NBA, you’ll be hard-pressed to win unless you have exceptional depth, which Miami doesn’t.

Beyond Dwyane Wade, who’s fought through injury to have a fine season, Miami is wafer thin. Chris Andersen, at 36, has collapsed. Danny Granger has made no impact whatsoever for the Heat. Big-ticket—well, as big-ticket as it got for Miami this summer—offseason acquisition Josh McRoberts has been at turns injured and ineffective since he came to Miami from Charlotte.

Meanwhile, Mario Chalmers has never been anything more than an average basketball player, and Norris Cole would have to improve by leaps and bounds to even sniff average. The pair play, combined, more than 55 minutes per game for Miami.

There are some interesting young pieces on the team—Shabazz Napier and James Ennis are chief among them—but they’re secondary pieces. They’re not players, not yet anyway, who can carry a team.

Consequently, the once-mighty Miami offense is now 16th in the league in efficiency, per ESPN.com. A defense that was on a downward slope the last few seasons has slipped further. The Heat are just 25th in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions.

Help is likely on the way, in the form of a free-agent splurge in the summer of 2016 or even this offseason. But for the time being, Miami just doesn’t have a roster that’s capable of making noise in even the enfeebled Eastern Conference.

The Heat’s struggles in 2014-15 also raise an interesting question: Absent LeBron, was this ever a particularly strong roster to begin with?

At first blush, it’s a silly, even blasphemous thing to question. Last season, Miami had three sure-fire Hall of Famers on its roster—James, Wade and Ray Allen—and a potential fourth in Chris Bosh.

But if you look a little deeper, problems were apparent long before this season. Miami, for a long time, has been old. Last season, according to Deadspin, the Heat had the oldest roster in the NBA.

And even at the top, minus LeBron, it wasn’t that productive.

Outside of James, the most productive member of the Heat in 2013-14 was Bosh, who checked in with eight win shares, according to Basketball-Reference.com. This placed him at No. 26 in the NBA.

This wasn’t the exception, either. The only season during the Big Three era in which the Heat placed three players in the league’s top 20 in win shares was 2012-13—when James (No. 1), Wade (No. 13) and Bosh (No. 20) each made the cut.

Now, the fact that Miami failed to place three guys in the top 20 in win shares every season is no great indictment of the team. That’s a pretty incredible accomplishment.

It’s simply to underscore the fact that there was a gulf between the conventional wisdom of how productive Miami’s non-James players were and how much they actually offered.

The moral of the story: As good as life is with LeBron James, it can be that difficult without him.

The best player in basketball makes a fine deodorant.

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LeBron James’ Crossover Sends Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha to the Floor

Don’t worry, Thabo Sefolosha. LeBron James makes plenty of defenders look bad on a nightly basis.

Near the end of the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers, James sent Sefolosha sprawling to the floor with a nice crossover.

James finished the play by kicking the ball out to Matthew Dellavedova, who hit the open three-pointer.

The play gave the Cavs a 34-26 lead after the opening quarter.

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LeBron James and Kevin Durant Will Race Each Other to NBA Scoring History

As soon as Kevin Durant hits either one triple, multiple two-pointers or some combination of shots from the field and attempts at the charity stripe, he’ll become the second-youngest player to 15,000 career points in NBA history. Entering Tuesday night’s contest against the Sacramento Kings, he’s sitting pretty at 14,997, so it’s a fairly safe bet he’ll gain entry to that club at 26 years, 78 days. 

The quickest to the mark? LeBron James, of course.

James reached the milestone at 25 years, 79 days, and he did it in his 540th game,” the Associated Press reported, via NBA.com, back in March of 2010. “[Kobe] Bryant [the previous record holder] was 27 years, 136 days and playing his 657th game, according to STATS LLC, when he did it for the Los Angeles Lakers.”

But here’s the fun part. 

James has an advantage in the youth department, as he entered the NBA straight out of high school, bypassing the ranks of collegiate basketball so that he could join the Cleveland Cavaliers and get his professional career off to an early start. Durant did no such thing, playing for the Texas Longhorns and declaring for the draft after his freshman season in Austin. 

So while Durant comes up right in between James and Kobe Bryant, trailing the former by a full year and coming in ahead of Bryant by about the same margin, it’s worth looking at how many games it took him to hit 15,000 points as well. 

This contest against the Kings will be the 550th of Durant’s NBA career. He’s not quite on the same pace as the four-time MVP currently playing with the Cavaliers, but it’s not as though he’s particularly far behind. 

And that gives hope that Durant might eventually finish ahead of his fellow small forward on the career scoring leaderboard. 


Where Will James Finish? 

At this point, James is already well beyond 15,000. 

When he broke that barrier, he was finishing up his first tenure with Cleveland, playing a mid-March contest against the Chicago Bulls while gearing up for a playoff run. Since then, he’s won two championships with the Miami Heat, scored plenty more points and returned to his hometown squad. 

While Durant prepares to hit 15k, James is coming up on 24,000 points scored, and he’s only just nearing his 30th birthday. He has plenty of years left to rack up buckets, and it won’t take all that long before we’re comparing his spot to the ones occupied by Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. 

The competition between those two shooting guards took center stage during early December, with Bryant chasing down the Bulls legend and eventually surpassing him with a pair of free throws. It was a big enough deal that play completely stopped, and that’s likely a scene we’ll see when James moves past the near-consensus G.O.A.T. years down the road. 

Let’s start there. 

Jordan and his 32,292 points now sit at No. 4 on the all-time leaderboard, trailing only Bryant (32,331 and counting), Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387). Is he safe from modern-day competitors? Take a look: 

Dirk Nowitzki has a realistic shot at passing Jordan if he plays beyond his current contract with the Dallas Mavericks, but it would be highly, highly unlikely that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan or Ray Allen (assuming he should still be called a current player) moves past him. And next up is James, which is absolutely insane since the other names mentioned in this paragraph all have quite a few years on him. 

It seems as though the Cavs stud is falling prey to declining athleticism this season, but that’s not affecting his overall performance. His efficiency is climbing back up to normal levels, and he’s still scoring 25.6 points per game, a mark that leaves him trailing only James Harden. 

The LeBron who could dunk on any player at any time is probably gone,” a league advance scout recently told ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst. “He’s probably never been a better basketball player than he is right now, though.” 

And that’s not all.

Now, you’ll see him set the defense up and take advantage of its weaknesses,” an Eastern Conference assistant coach also explained to Windhorst. “If that means fewer dunks but more efficient shots for himself or his teammates then you could say he’s playing better offensively now than he was then.” 

That’s the beauty of James. He might lose the athleticism that has made him so feared, but he’s one of the most intelligent players of all time, and he’ll still be programmed to make the right play for quite some time. There’s no doubt he’ll keep scoring at high levels throughout his career, even if his style of play has to change. 

So, let’s assume there’s a bit of a decline throughout the rest of his career, and he averages only 22 points per game while maintaining those levels of efficiency that are so important in real action, even if they’re only tangential here. That accounts for him averaging between 24 and 26 points for the next few seasons before declining to 20 or slightly below. It’s also worth noting that James has been remarkably durable throughout his career, playing an average of 77 outings per season. 

First, imagine he continues putting up 25.6 points per game and plays in 55 more games this season to get to that 77-contest mark. He’d finish the 2014-15 campaign with 25,141 points. Then, if he scores 22 points per contest and suits up 77 times each year, playing six more seasons and retiring at 36 years old, he’d hang up the sneakers with 35,305 points under his belt. 

Feels fairly conservative, right? Nonetheless, that still puts him well clear of Jordan and within striking distance of Malone. 

But what’s crazy is that there’s a distinct possibility James could eventually dethrone Abdul-Jabbar and become the new gold standard for longstanding scoring prowess. After all, this is a man who scored 20.9 points per game during his rookie season and has been above 25 during every other go-round throughout his illustrious career. And there’s no reason to believe he can’t play past 36 years old, either. 

Even if he averages exactly 25 points per contest for the next six years after playing out the current season at his present rate, he’d finish with 36,691 points. Remember, Abdul-Jabbar is at 38,387. Add one more season to James’ career, and he’s past the sky-hook legend himself if he can play 77 times and average 22 points per game. 

So, for Durant to have any shot at surpassing his inter-conference rival, he’ll have to at least have a chance at doing the same—eventually surpassing Abdul-Jabbar. 


Where Will Durant Finish? 

What’s so insane about Durant’s scoring is how quickly he was able to accomplish such remarkable feats.

Already a four-time scoring champion, the Oklahoma City Thunder standout is still just 26 years old. He’s getting better, not entering into any state of decline, and he has plenty of years left to produce monstrous numbers.

He’s racking up points at a historic rate already, and to hammer that point home, here’s a visual representation of how many Durant and James had after each year of their career, up to the point of where the former is currently: 

But, somewhat surprisingly, that’s not exactly an argument in favor of the younger challenger. Though he’s been close on multiple occasions, he only bests James’ total in two of those first seven seasons. And given the injury that knocked him out of action, it’s unlikely his eighth season matches James’ total in the equivalent year (2,111). To get there, Durant would need to play in every remaining game and average 33.9 points per contest. 

Though that number is unrealistic, at least it doesn’t seem like we have to worry about any recurring injuries to his foot, as the scoring stud himself and ESPN.com’s Royce Young made clear:

ESPN NBA Insider Dr. Mark Adickes said the recurrence rate of re-injury is extremely low for surgically repaired fifth metatarsal fractures in elite athletes — 5 to 10 percent — with that percentage dropping to 3 to 5 when treated with a screw, as Durant’s was. But the NBA has a long history of big men dealing with foot issues, something the nearly 7-foot Durant is well aware of.

‘I know I’m different. I know my injury was different. I know I’m a different build than most guys,’ Durant told reporters earlier in the week. ‘You can’t compare me to Yao Ming. He’s 300 pounds and he broke his foot. I didn’t break mine.’

Nor should we lose sleep over him getting less aggressive.  

“I’m one of those guys that’s going to play how I play if I’m out on the court,” Durant told Young. “If I try to hold back and worry about what may happen, that’s when I don’t bring the edge I usually play with. Whatever happens, happens.”

We’ve seen him play just under 30 minutes during most of his seven outings thus far in 2014-15, and though the Thunder will presumably be careful about his workload, it’s not as if he’s struggling to score. Durant is already averaging 20.9 points per game, and his per-36-minute mark is right in line with where it’s been for a long time now. 

For the sake of having firm numbers to work with, let’s assume Durant plays in 50 of the 58 remaining games and averages 25 points per contest. That gives him 1,250 more points to add to his current total and would leave him entering 2015-16 with 16,247 to his credit. 

But then everything gets much trickier. 

Projecting the scoring averages of one of the most talented point-producing phenoms in NBA history is not particularly easy, especially when he’s still only 26 years old. It’s all just guesstimating based on his track record and a jump shooting style that should help him defy Father Time. 

Heading into this season, Durant—just like James—had played an average of 77 games per campaign. So that’s the baseline we’ll use there. But how many points is he going to score each year? 

Given that he’s averaged 29.3 points per game over the five seasons leading up to this one and posted a career-best 32 points per contest in 2013-14, it seems a safe assumption to give him an average of 30 points per outing throughout his prime. And we’ll allow that prime to extend to 30 years old, as that’s the point where we’ve seen James’ scoring—in terms of sheer volume—begin to decline. 

After that, we can have Durant average 25 points per game for four more seasons, then drop down to, say, 21 points per game for two more years before calling it quits at 36. That number is only being chosen for the sake of similarity, as that’s when we had James pulling the plug as well. 

With those rough estimates—and again, he could dramatically exceed or fail to meet them, as there’s so much uncertainty about the future of any player—he’d retire with 36,421 points under his belt. Remember, our initial conservative estimate had James at 35,305 points, and the projection in which he averaged 25 points per game for the next six years placed him at 36,691 points. 

So, which scoring stud is going to finish with more points? 

It seems to be a surprisingly safe bet that each will eventually surpass Jordan and have a great shot to move past Bryant on the career leaderboard, unless the latter plays beyond his current contract. Malone will be in sight as well, though it will take some superhuman efforts and endurance to challenge Abdul-Jabbar, even if that No. 1 spot is indeed possible for each player. 

But right now, it’s a toss-up between the two. Durant and James, using those rough estimates, will finish quite close to one another, and it’s impossible to predict who will suffer significant injuries or end up on a team with another star scorer who eats into the late-career opportunities. 

And that’s why James, despite Durant’s penchant for putting up bigger per-game numbers, is the safer choice. He has a massive head start on the OKC forward, and that makes a big difference in this competition. Durant has more uncertainty left to navigate through, even if he seems to have more scoring upside. 

In 2000, Grant Hill entered the seventh season of his career with 9,393 points scored. He was on pace to get to 15k during the beginning of his 12th season. But injuries derailed his career, and he didn’t join the club until his 15th go-round in the Association. He’d retire just slightly over 17,000. 

After eight seasons, Tracy McGrady had 12,423 points and seemed on pace to finish with a ridiculous total. But then that pesky injury imp did its malicious job, and despite playing another seven years, McGrady finished with “only” 18,381. 

Injuries can pop up at any time, and that’s why it’s safer to take the player with the 8,736-point lead in a competition that’s otherwise too close to call. 

Is either choice objectively wrong at this stage of their respective careers? Absolutely not, but James seems to be just a bit more right. Sorry, Durant, but it’s another second-place finish.


Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from Basketball-Reference.com and are current heading into Dec. 16′s games. 

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Post-LeBron James Miami Heat haven’t been feeling so hot

The Miami Heat made some moves this summer, to try making up for the gaping hole in their talent level caused when LeBron James announced he’d…

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James, Love lead Cavaliers over Hornets 97-88 (Yahoo Sports)

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 15: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Charlotte Hornets during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 15, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Hornets 97-88. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James and Kevin Love were at the top of their game Monday night.

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James leads Cavs over Hornets

James has 27 points, Love adds 22 points as Cavaliers beat Hornets 97-88



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LeBron James Has Failed as Cleveland’s GM


At first glance, it seems pretty obvious: wouldn’t all 30 NBA teams move mountains in order to have LeBron James in their uniform? Well, probably. But there definitely is an identifiable downside to having the world’s best player on your team: the end of your bench gets filled up with ring-chasing veterans and James’ personal friends. It happened in 2010 in Miami—enter Juwan Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, Eddie House, Zydrunas Ilgauskas—and it happened this last summer in Cleveland, as Mike Miller, James Jones, and Shawn Marion came into town.

Currently sitting at 13–9, there’s no doubt that the additions of James and Kevin Love have turned the Cavaliers into legitimate Eastern Conference contenders. However, head coach David Blatt has had to lean considerably on his stars just to get the Cavs up to the East’s fourth seed. James is third in the league in minutes at 38 per game; Kyrie Irving is fourth at 37.9; and Love is eighth at 36.2. No other team in the league has three players…

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Santa Claus spoofs LeBron James’ Decision

“This Christmas I’m going to be taking my talents to the South Pole.”



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