|Tour-de-fourth: James answers trash talk with power, points against Raptors|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 07 January 2008 13:37|
Fueled by some good-natured heckling from Toronto star Chris Bosh's girlfriend and others, James outscored the Raptors 24-20 in the fourth quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 93-90 win on Sunday.
It was the latest tour-de-fourth performance by the Cavaliers superstar who has become the NBA's foremost finisher.
``I love the fourth quarter,'' he said Monday. ``The fourth quarter is my quarter.''
In his last four games, James is averaging 13.5 points and 3.0 assists in the fourth. And of his league-leading 29.2 points per game, 9.7 have come in the final 12 minutes - against defenses designed to stop him.
On Sunday, James went 8-of-10 from the field in the fourth as the Cavs, who trailed by 20 in the first half, rallied to win. During his unforgettable finish, he made 4-of-5 3-pointers and added two rebounds and three assists.
The Raptors couldn't do anything to stop James as he drove by them, spun past them, twisted around them and flat out schooled them.
He found himself in a zone that he had trouble describing.
``I just feel like I'm out there by myself, everything is going right,'' he said. ``It's just like you're shooting by yourself after practice.''
James' 24 points set a Cavaliers franchise record, eclipsing Terry Furlow's 23-point fourth quarter on Dec. 5, 1978, in Washington and a 23-point first quarter by World B. Free on April 5, 1985, in Detroit.
``He's amazing,'' Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. ``The tough part about it is he makes stuff look so easy that just to say it's amazing doesn't give it any justice. He didn't just score points for us. He set other guys up. He drove the ball at the right time. He made passes at the right time.''
And during it all, James, who finished with 39 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, held a running conversation with Bosh's girlfriend, Alison. James met her during the summer when he and the Raptors' star were teammates on the U.S. national team.
So what did she say from her courtside seat that set him off?
``Nothing in particular,'' James said. ``She was just rooting for her team, I guess.''
But in the final seconds with the Cavaliers' win sealed, James looked over and got in the last word.
``I told her it was her fault why they lost,'' James said.
Bosh said there was nothing malicious about the trash talking, just some friends having fun.
``It was my girl, my cousin and her brothers and sisters,'' Bosh said at practice on Monday. ``They know LeBron, we all know each other and it wasn't anything personal. They just like to have fun. I guess he just really had a big game so he was able to gloat a little bit.
``I saw a lot of people were trying to make a big deal out of it but they probably don't know that we all know each other. We all talked after the game and it was cool.''
James laughed when asked about the well-publicized exchange with Bosh's belle.
``She got more TV time than me or him last night,'' he said.
The Raptors aren't the only ones to succumb to James' late-game heroics.
Earlier last week, he scored 19 points in the fourth quarter during a win over Atlanta. More impressively, James scored or assisted on 26 of Cleveland's final 27 points and scored his final 12 points in the closing 1:50.
In Cleveland's next game, James scored only two in the fourth but picked up five assists down the stretch in a win over Sacramento.
The Cavaliers (17-17) have won five of six and are back at .500 for the first time since Dec. 4. The defending Eastern Conference champions remain a work in progress, but they seem to be getting it together - thanks to James.
They know they can't count on James to carry them every game.
``If he gets it going like that,'' center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said, ``what are you going to do? Not give him the ball? That would be stupidity.''
Maybe as foolish as heckling him.
A lesson the Raptors and their fans had to learn the hard way.
``I say probably leave him alone next time,'' Bosh said.