The story of LeBron James‘ career has, with a couple of rare exceptions in Miami where Dwyane Wade was a bona fide Hall of Fame sidekick, been a case of carrying utterly wretched teams further than they have any right to go.
Indeed, most of the case for James as the NBA’s greatest of all time hinges on the narrative of “he won a championship with a G-League team in 2016.” (and if you want me to say something nice about Kyrie Irving, you must be new here.)
And here he is in Los Angeles, dragging the freaking South Bay Lakers to a 9-7 record through about a fifth of the season, on pace for 46-36 record-wise, 44-38 based on point differential, the 7 seed in the West if the season ended today, a first-round tilt with the freaking Golden State Warriors (more on them in a minute).
LeBron scored 51 points against the Miami Heat on Sunday. He’s upped his WS/48 to .232, the highest mark since 2015-16. He’s on pace for 7.6 VORP, the same number he posted in the championship season in Cleveland. His turnover percentage is the lowest it’s been since 2008-09. True Shooting? On par with his days in Miami, and he got better shots then.
Dear gods, world, LeBron is elevating his game to another level…in his 16th year in the league. Go ahead, keep trying to tell me he’s not the GOAT. Keep telling yourself that.
The Lakers beat Miami 113-97, and they did this despite Lonzo Ball continuing to be absolute steaming hot dog crap (1-of-6 shooting, two points in 22 minutes, and a minus-3 plus/minus in a game his team won by 16 freaking points) and despite the supporting cast in general hitting just 23 shots (in 64 tries, a 35.9 percent clip.)
LeBron hit 19-of-31. That’s 61.3 percent. He beat the Heat by himself.
And normally I provide some kind of detailed analysis in this slot, but let’s face it. There is no analysis. There is only LeBron. So watch LeBron.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 19, 2018
Panic at the Alamo…for the Visitors!
Are you enjoying the Golden State meltdown? Wondering why we ever consider anyone other than LeBron for MVP when the Warriors are such trash without Stephen Curry?
Hell, Jonas Jerebko…actually, forget I said anything. He had 10 rebounds, sure, but he has neither Green’s big-man court vision nor his defensive ability.
So the San Antonio Couldn’t Hit A Three If Their Lives Depended On It Spurs won 104-92.
And San Antonio was 10-of-24 from three overall. Golden State was 5-of-26, as Klay Thompson shot 3-of-11 from long range, needed 26 field goal attempts to get his 25 points, and posted a minus-17 as his vaunted perimeter defense has gone completely into the toilet this year.
The Warriors are in a world of trouble.
DeRozan’s spiffy little stat line makes him man of the match:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) November 19, 2018
That’s One Way to Get 40
Damian Lillard shot the ball 29 times. He scored 40 points. And the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Washington Wizards 119-109 in a game they led 32-12 at one point in the first quarter.
I mean, besides Portland seizing first place in the Western Conference, is there a more surprising narrative in the NBA this year than just how utterly brain-achingly putrid the Wizards have been?
This is a team that’s supposed to have a solid young core, but they’re 5-11 with coach Scott Brooks on the hot seat and the team doomed to Salary Cap Hell for years once John Wall‘s extension kicks in; they’re looking like the mid-aughts Knicks.
CJ McCollum added 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, Jusuf Nurkic had 13 points and 14 rebounds, and the whistle-happy refs called 30 fouls on the Wizards that got the Blazers a 30-of-35 night from the line.
But Lillard had 40. Let’s focus on that.
— NBA (@NBA) November 19, 2018
Minnesota is 7-10. Minnesota is the second-worst team in the Western Conference. By the gods, the world has gone mad.
Memphis, who are a surprise in their own right at 10-5, dunked the Wolves 100-87 behind 26 points and 13 rebounds by Marc Gasol, whose efficiency was a delight as he went 8-of-13 from the field and 4-of-7 from deep.
Memphis won this one by taking care of the ball, winning the turnover battle 20-12, and by keeping Minnesota from being able to pound the ball inside—the Wolves shot just 38 percent on two-point shots (19-of-50.)
Gasol’s the man of the match:
— NBA (@NBA) November 18, 2018
And finally, the Orlando Magic, who smoked the Lakers over the weekend, picked up an easier win at the expense of the New York Knicks, who exist primarily for the purpose of getting smoked by any team that is “mediocre” or better.
Orlando won 131-117, pulling away in the fourth quarter and getting 31 from Aaron Gordon on 13-of-17 overall to go with 28 from Nikola Vucevic on 10-of-15. Vooch almost pulled off the triple-double, adding 10 rebounds and nine assists.
But you score 31, you get the highlight reel all to yourself, so give it up for AG:
— NBA (@NBA) November 19, 2018
It’s another week of NBA action on Pace and Space, and even though Thanksgiving will deprive us of the pleasure of pro hoop as the spotlight yields to football, we’ll still have great stuff all week, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!