Say it with me. Everyone. 52-10-11. That's 52 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists. A Triple-Double. On the same floor that Kobe Bryant, just a couple days ago, scored 61 points to break a long standing Madison Square Garden record for points scored.
Before we continue, let's rewind back to earlier in the day. Ever since Kobe's big night, people were wondering what LeBron would try to do to 'one-up' his Team USA teammate. LeBron, to his credit, said what most of us thought he would say --
"I'm going to play my game. It's not a video game where I can do what I want. I don't try to score points, I try and win ball games."
Sounds legitmate, and frankly I believe LeBron when he says it. He's not a pure scorer, not in the sense that Kobe Bryant is. But one thing is for sure, LeBron James is the NBA's ultimate showman, which is why I compare his game more to Magic Johnson than Michael Jordan. LeBron has a flair for the dramatic. He has good stage presence. And he knows how to play a room.
One last look back, this time at Kobe's 61 point night on Monday. Kobe scored 61 points on 19/31 shooting. Very impressive. He also went to the free throw line 20 times and converted each one. The other numbers, however, not impressive at all. ZERO rebounds, only 3 assists. Personally, in a lot of ways, Pau Gasol's 31-14-5 game may have been just as impressive. Of course, Kobe's scoring performance was a thing of genious - Spike Lee said so.
Now we move to tonight. Right from the start, LeBron was aggressive and attacking the basket. He scored 20 points in the 1st quarter and it was on. Wehn LeBron James decides he is going to attack the rim, and I mean really attack, there is no stopping him. No one can stop him. That is what James did tonight. He went to the line 8 times in the first quarter alone.
A closer look at LeBron's numbers - 52 points on 17-33 shooting, 16/19 from the free throw line, shows a scoring game a notch below Kobe's, as expected. Kobe is the better scorer. It's the rest of LeBron's game -- 10 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 blocks -- that make him, in my opinion, the better all-around player right now. Once again, when the Cavaliers needed him to step up on defense, he did, clamping down on Al Harrington when it looked like he might go for 50.
It wasn't a pretty night for the Cavaliers. Coming off a tougher than necessary game against Toronto last night they had to face a Knicks team that had won 6 of 8. They came into this week -- LA, Cleveland, Boston all at MSG - as a measuring stick of where they are as a basketball team. After watching 2 of the greatest players in the world drop a combined 113 points on them, they should know pretty well what they are not -- a defensive team in any way, shape or form.
That is the beauty of the Cleveland Cavaliers. They get sloppy at times, they take too many bad shots at times, they stand around on offense at times. When they need to get a stop, however, they are good enough to turn on the stifling defense, when it matters most, and get the W. They did it last night against Toronto after the huge block by LeBron and they did it again tonight down the stretch.
At 39-9, the Cavaliers get a well deserved brak until Sunday when Kobe and the Lakers invade The Q. How fun will that one be? Until then, let's say it one more time, all together --
Fifty-Two, Ten and Eleven.....Phew!