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Monday night NBA grades: LeBron James flashes his MVP credentials

Dec 24, 2013, 2:38 AM EDT

Atlanta Hawks vs Miami Heat Getty Images

Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while reading about NBA Jam legend Mike Iuzzolino

source:   LeBron James, Miami Heat. No Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh left late in the game after Paul Millsap elbowed his jaw. Other Heat players struggled (we’re looking at you, Mario Chalmers). Yet there was LeBron James to carry the Heat to a win — 38 points on 28 shots, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. There are other guys in the early MVP discussion — Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Paul George or LaMarcus Aldridge — but games like this remind you that LeBron is the best player on the planet and he has set the bar for the MVP trophy.

source:  The Knicks’ bodies. Maybe this should have been an incomplete grade, but basically the Knicks’ bodies are failing them. This team has not stayed healthy this season long enough to get any chemistry, now they have Metta World Peace getting the Kobe treatment to his knee, Carmelo Anthony left Monday’s game with a sprained ankle, and now Raymond Felton could be out with a groin injury. The Basketball Gods have punished the Knicks enough this season, time to ease up on them.

source:  Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks. Dirk was in vintage form — 31 points on 18 shots against the Rockets Monday. As tends to be the case he was on fire from the midrange, hitting 7-of-10 from there (mostly from the left side of the court). With this 31 Nowitzi passed Alex English for 13th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list

source:  Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats. He was just one rebound shy of a triple double — 25 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds. Seven of those points came in overtime to assure the Bobcats the win. Yes, he did it against the lowly Bucks but it still counts.

source:  Tyreke Evans, New Orleans Hornets. Tyreke Evans went back home to Sacramento and reminded Kings fans he is pretty good — 25 points on 7-of-14 shooting, 12 assists and 5 rebounds off the bench. Evans had 13 of those points in the third and fourth quarter, when he was key to the Pelicans pulling away for a win.

  1. progress2011 - Dec 24, 2013 at 3:23 AM

    5 Time MVP !!!

    Re-establish FUNDAMENTAL Basketball principles. Get rid of the idea of “Hero” ball is the right way to play.

    On another note: Wade has gotta get his contract renegotiated, for the greater good of the team. He shows “Flashes” of his greatness…..


    He can only play half the games – he should only make half of that enormous contract. He’s supposed to make bout $21 Mil next year. That should be cut to bout $11 Mil/ Half The Games!

    With an extra $10 Mil on the books…the Heat can get a dependable guard to play, when Wade is resting, every-other game!

    • antistratfordian - Dec 24, 2013 at 6:54 AM

      You’re fooling yourself though if you think LeBron wasn’t playing hero ball late in the 4th after the Heat went down 107-100. Miami’s next three shots were LeBron’s consecutive walk-up 3s and then his dunk on Milsap – he didn’t pass the ball on any of those possessions. That’s always going to be a part of the game, for better or worse. The good thing about James though is that he doesn’t abuse his power.

      It occurred to me that hero ball only becomes a major irritation if you’re a 45% shooter and you feel like you have to take every crunch time shot – and then you find that you only shoot 30% in those situations. That might be a problem.

      In short: Ballin’ heroically in moderation = okay.

    • miamatt - Dec 24, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      While I generally agree, you are grossly overreacting to Wade’s season. First, he has played in 20 out of 27 games. Suggesting he misses every other game is silly. And, as you say, he is ballin’ when he does suit up.

      Really, though, it is about April-June for Wade. THAT is the time most of his money is earned.

      While, as a Heat fan, I do (of course) hope that the “big three” opts out and re-signs for an amount that is workable for the team, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Wade has to halve his salary. A healthy Wade is still the one thing that can make the Heat near unbeatable, and his value in that regard should not be underestimated.

      At a minimum, let’s see how the season plays out before we start suggesting Wade needs to take a $10 million dollar bath.

      • sportsfan18 - Dec 24, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        Wade already took a $10 million dollar bath! Google info about his divorce.

  2. rickyspanish - Dec 24, 2013 at 3:31 AM

    What do these guys need to do to get an A+????

    • izenhower - Dec 24, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      Score 100 points is the borderline between an A and an A+…. LOL

  3. 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    The Hawks played a phenomenal game last night. That’s a good team right there. Great PG play out of Teague (Chalmers was abused all night), great coach, and they have 2 members of the Jamal Crawford Memorial Heat.Killer All-Star team in Paul Millsap and Lou Williams.

    That being said….LeBron went Maximus Decimus Meridius last night. Are you not entertained!!!!?

  4. slystone111 - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    LeBron James is the most overrated player in NBA history. On the great Lakers teams of the 80s or the Bulls teams of the 90s, he would have been the third option.

    • cheathamhouse1 - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      I beg to differ. With his talent another team would’ve built a squad around him to compete with those teams you mention. Are you that blinded by hate, that you can’t give this man his props for his game? Pretend that he is just a gray silhouette on the court and ONLY look at his game for the next 20 games and then tells us that you still feel that way. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that there are a lot of overrated players in this league as the NBA attempts to create superstars at will in order to sell tickets and jerseys, get tv time etc., but Lebron is not one of those over-inflated characters that you find mostly in the West. He’s really damn good.

    • soopreme - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      Your really making the point of how great Lebron is. It would not matter to him if he was the 3rd option on a great team, he would just play defense and pile up assists and rebounds. Arguably the most complete and all around player on BOTH sides of the court that has ever played.

    • heat256 - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      Other nuggets from slystone:

      “Oxygen is overrated”
      “Women’s equality is overrated”
      “Not wetting the bed at 30 is overrated”

      You should write a book man.

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      Only thumbs up you got was from yourself.

      • miamatt - Dec 24, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        hahaha so true.

    • izenhower - Dec 24, 2013 at 1:51 PM

      It is actually my thumbs up… I give him credit for public demonstration of dumbness !
      Lebron James is playing on ”sleep mode” this season… He got his back problems early on the season, he got the ankle injury and he’s probably kinda bored sometimes….. yet, he’s putting up the best numbers in the NBA by far and everytime the Heat needs his efforts, like against Pacers, Magic and Hawks he will trigger that superman mode and not even God can stop him…
      His game is getting better and better every season…. he is breaking lots of NBA records every year, he is mathematically quoted to be #1 in NBA all-time scoring leaders if he doesn’t suffer any major injury and play for like 17-18 years (and he is not a pure scorer)…
      On the last 3-4 seasons, he proved me wrong with his clutch ability… don’t even need to comment on that…
      His passing abilities are as sharp as Magic’s… He rebounds like a center…. he plays and defends 1-through-5…
      Man, I’m old enough to have watched Lakers/Bulls golden years and, today, I’d set MJ as a second option had I had Lebron on my roster…

    • yeahisaiditsowhat - Dec 24, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      Slystone111…Brother, I have seen people get served up on here, but D-A-Y-U-M!
      Sixty eight (like in a lot) 68 thumbs down and a single, ONE, (like in 1) up?

      That’s’ just nasty…Just d#amned fugly. Man, you got jacked. Bad. Real bad.

  5. golfrangeman - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    @slystone111 80’s lakers he’d be option 1 with magic being more of a floor general. 90’s bulls # 2 behind Jordan. You must be living in Colorado,what you had a little “wake n bake”this morning?

  6. grizzlystrike - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    What about the Phoenix Suns? Plumdogmillionaire

  7. rodge1 - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    Don’t cry hater, your team won’t suck for long… Yes it will

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      Make up your mind. Just kidding.

  8. cheathamhouse1 - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    Nice! Lebron showed why he is the best player in the league. Of course he’s got the offensive skills, but his will to win to the very end and the defensive ability is what separates the great ones. I mean, while Chalmers was fumbling and bumbling on the offensive end and getting used by Teague on the defensive end, Lebron found a way to hit two threes, a dunk, guard players, and push the defensive. He just never gave up…like it was a playoff game. And he did all of that in the last minute or so of regulation to send it to overtime where they got the win. I haven’t seen that “I wanna win every game” since Jordan. Mentally, it seemed like the other heat players were thinking about Santa and candy canes towards the end. Say what you want about Lebron, but he is the only player I see that is basically un-gaurdable one-on-one (he can drive, shoot jumpers and threes and post), shoots a high percentage, Defends (blocks, intangibles), and get’s others involved (assists). In my opinion, he’s the best all-around player in the NBA right now. If you are guided by your personal feelings (like a girl) instead of really just purely looking at his game only (like a man), then you may not agree.

  9. golfrangeman - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    It’s ok you probably live in Colorado and had a little “wake n bake” this morning. Why don’t you repost when you come back down to earth.

  10. belleby123 - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    The good news: LeBron is still great. The bad news: he still has to carry his team. Is back in Cleveland already?

    • borderline1988 - Dec 24, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      He will always need to carry his team; his skillset is perfect for that anyways because he does everything on the court. The difference now is that there are enough options around him (and good shooters) such that opposing defenses can’t constantly double him or load the strong side of the court with 4 defenders (which is what teams used to do to him when he was on Cleveland).

      Also, Lebron is a much better shooter now. I have a feeling that he would have done better on Cleveland if he could shoot 40% from 3 and efficiently knock down jumpers. I remember those Boston-Cleveland series; Boston dared him to shoot deep jumpers, or drive into a wall of defenders. And if he kicked the ball out, there were no real dependable shooters around him. Mo Williams used to disappear in the playoffs. Daniel Gibson was a farce. The only guy who could hit shots in key situations was Delonte West, although if you need to rely on that guy, you’re in trouble.

      Bosh, Allen, Battier, Birdman, etc are quality role pieces around Lebron who have 1000x the maturity and reliability that those Cleveland role guys had.

      • belleby123 - Jan 26, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        All well and good. You’re lucky that LeBron is super human and has almost zero down time. Without him the Heat would be slightly better than Brooklyn.

      • borderline1988 - Jan 26, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        With Wade and Bosh, they’d still be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, possibly the 2nd seed, although obviously not a contender.

        But that’s true about many teams and their key players…Indiana needs Hibbert, OKC needs Durant, SA needs Duncan, etc. None of these teams would be serious contenders without their best players. And the fact that Miami might have the biggest dropoff just shows you how good Lebron actually is

  11. kinglorious - Dec 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    I don’t know where they find the refs man but how the hell did that ref not lose his mind after LeBron destroyed Milsap? They must be soccer fans.

  12. scorp16 - Dec 24, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    A-minus for Beas. Comes in down by 9 and has 10 points 7 boards in 20 minutes. He’s averaging 11/4 17 minutes a game. Not too shabby.

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