Maybe better, because Jordan never quite did anything like what LeBron James did to the Detroit Pistons here Thursday in his Cavs taking a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 109-107 victory.
Twenty-five straight points — every one of his team's points — from midway through the fourth quarter through the end of the second overtime. Relentless drives and finishes for slam dunks to send the game into overtime in the last 31.4 seconds of regulation, clutch free throws and an off-balance 20-footer that seemed to be the winner at the end of the first overtime before the Pistons converted four free throws to send the game into a second overtime. A cold blooded three in the second overtime with 1:14 left after Chris Webber rolled in a basket and added a free throw for a 107-104 lead. And then facing the citadel of the Pistons defense, James blowing by Chauncey Billups for the game winner with 2.2 seconds left before Billups missed a last chance.
He couldn’t have made it.
Not after that performance.
You had to be there. You had to see it. We all really were witnesses this time.
"We couldn't leave here without getting one win," said James, referring to the two heartbreaking losses to open the series when James was criticized after Game 1 for passing on a potential tying layup or dunk.
No more! In their faces!
"There was a lot of double teaming, triple teaming and I just tried to get the ball up," said James. "They're definitely a great defensive team, but I wanted to attack as much as possible."
This is how good it was.
No one ever has scored more points in a playoff game against the Pistons. The previous high was by Elgin Baylor, 47 in 1961. James had 48 in Game 5. No one ever has scored more than 50 points in a game against the Pistons.
In the second overtime, James was four of four and his teammates were a combined zero for five.
The last Cav to score in the game was Drew Gooden with one of two free throws with 2:49 left in regulation. The last field goal by anyone other than James was Zyndrunas Ilgauskas' layin with 8:02 left in regulation.
"We tried to get the ball out of his hands," said Pistons coach Flip Saunders. "We wanted to trap and get it out of his hands, but he did a very good job coming into the trap and dribbling out. And he reattacked. He was in the zone. He made phenomenal shots, an unbelievable zone."
Oh, yeah. And James also had nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals. No word on whether he flew the plane home.
But he left everyone on an amazing high watching a transcendent performance.
"In this atmosphere, this is the single best game I've ever seen," said Cavs coach Mike Brown. "And I've been around some great players. My words don't give it justice for what he did. He was awesome at 22 years old. Wow! That's all. Wow!"
It seemed so long ago in the game, Antonio McDyess ejected for a hard foul on Varajeo, James getting a technical foul, the Pistons promising that this wouldn't be like before, that they were taking this seriously and this was a game they had to have.
James simply took it away from them in one of the most remarkable one-man performances in a crucial game in NBA history.
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