LeBron James was a madman on Wednesday night. With leading scorer Carmelo Anthony on the bench with a sore heel and Kobe Bryant playing well, but hardly brilliantly, LBJ made Las Vegas’ Thomas and Mack Center his own personal playground. Against a very game Uruguayan team, the United States found itself searching for a spark. Despite holding a 12-point lead two minutes into the second quarter, Team USA had not looked particularly impressive, the offense running in fits and starts and their ball movement falling short of the standard they’d set in previous outings.
Enter LeBron James.
LBJ re-entered the game with about seven and a half minutes remaining in the second quarter, having already made all five of his first quarter attempts, three of them from behind the 3-point line. Within seconds of returning to the floor LeBron took a Jason Kidd pass on the left wing, elevated in the lane and hammered home as powerful a tomahawk dunk as you’ll ever see. Just over a minute later, LeBron slice through the Uruguayan defense for a transition lay-up, followed by an off-balance finger roll in the lane about ten seconds later. For those of you scoring at home, that’s 8-for-8 for LeBron, and a suddenly commanding 18-point lead for the United States. James added another 3-pointer and a bone-jarring dunk on the baseline just before halftime, giving him 26 points on a perfect 11-for-11 from the field, 4-for-4 on 3-pointers, and giving Team USA a commanding 66-38 halftime lead. It was one of the most exciting and impressive basketball clinics in recent memory, enough to leave anyone watching his performance laughing in disbelief.
Showing a quality that few possess and many relinquish upon entering Las Vegas, LBJ took his winnings and walked away at the highest point. In what was an inspired move by James and Coach K, LeBron spent the entire second half on the bench. With Team USA cruising to yet another blowout win, and a showdown with unbeaten Argentina looming on Thursday night, there was no point in having him on the floor any longer- both individually and from a team standpoint. LeBron had played the perfect game of basketball in the first half: 26 points, 11-11 field goals, 4-4 3-pointers, 4 assists, 2 steals 0 turnovers!
Outstanding work, LeBron! I’m glad I stayed up to “witness” that performance!