LeBron knows how to keep a party going

LeBron James scored 47 points in Game 3. It seems when he knows he has a party to get to, nothing can stop him.

LeBron James scored 47 points in Cleveland's Game 3 victory Saturday. Apparently, when he knows he has a party to get to, nothing can stop him. (Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com.)

Dwayne Wade was so concerned about Miami’s first-round playoff series against the Hawks that he issued a no-party mandate for his teammates while they were in Atlanta.

This would be in contrast to LeBron James, who presumably had such little regard for the Hawks that he reserved all three floors of a midtown restaurant and nightclub for a post-game bash for up to 800 people Saturday night.

When asked about his party plans before the game, James said only, “I’ve got game plans right now, and I’m very focused on Game 3. I’ll worry about it after the game.”

Yeah. Worried. Whatever.

In a perfect world for a Hawks’ fan, this is right about where you would fall on the floor laughing over an Atlanta victory and James’ premature and misguided plans for an evening celebration.

But it wasn’t going to happen. Not this game. Not this series. Not this season.

The Hawks returned to Philips Arena for Game 3 against the Cavaliers, hoping to replicate the magic that enabled them to stretch eventual champion Boston to seven games last season. But playing better defensively and harder for a full four quarters than in the first two games only delayed the inevitable.

They lost, anyway.

The final score (97-82) was more aesthetically appealing than the first two blowouts in Cleveland. But the result was the same. The Hawks are one game from being swept out of the second round.

When told afterward about James’ early party plans, the Hawks’ Al Horford looked stunned.

“Oh, really?” he said. “He’s a confident dude, I guess. But nothing we can do about it.”

It wouldn’t have mattered if Hawks players had been aware of James’ social plans. Motivational tools go only so far in series like this. The Cavaliers are simply superior. They have the look of a team – in talent, depth and drive – that’s building toward a championship. James must have figured he might as well start partying early.

Besides, he scored 47 points.

“There’s a reason he’s the MVP,” Horford said.

You can understand the giddiness in Cleveland. The Cavs are now 7-0 in the playoffs. They’ve won every game by double-digits. They may not be challenged until the finals.

Horford admitted it’s difficult playing these games, knowing the opponent is better. “It’s tough, real tough,” he said. “They play very well as a team. There’s a reason why they’ve won so many games this year. You can do a lot of the right things. But in order to beat a team like that you can’t make any mistakes.”

It hasn’t been much of a series. Best-of-seven? That looks like a punch line. The Cavaliers won the first two games by 47 points, and if they really wanted to, they probably could’ve won Game 2 alone by 47 points. The Hawks’ forcing even a fifth game with a win Monday night looks like a statistical long shot.

Yes, LeBron. You had the last laugh. See you soon in the finals. (Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com)

Yes, LeBron. You had the last laugh. See you soon in the finals. (Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com)

So who could blame King James if he had things on his mind in Atlanta other than basketball? He planned a function for 10 p.m. at Trois, a midtown restaurant, for he and “800 of his closest friends,” according to manager Chris Blackburn.

“This isn’t really a party he’s throwing, but he will be in attendance,” Blackburn said. “He just wanted a place to hang out. I think his agent contacted a local promoter who we’ve done business with in the past.”

Almost any other pro athlete would be skewered for that. I guess he figured there was no way the plans would come back to bite him.

But the Hawks gave it a run. They led, 44-40, with two minutes left in the first half. Thank goodness for small victory. The Cavaliers outscored them, 7-2, to close the half and 11-2 to open the third quarter and suddenly was back in familiar territory – with a double-digit lead, 58-48.

But the Hawks didn’t fade. They continued to play strong defensively. They battled back to take the lead. But with 1:32 left in the third quarter, Zaza Pachulia was given two technical fouls for arguing a shooting foul on the Cavs’ Joe Smith and was tossed from the game.

Given the number of ailing bodies in the lineup, losing a healthy one was the last thing the Hawks needed. The Cavs stretched their lead. They won by 15.

And LeBron was just a little late to the party.

61 comments Add your comment

The_Future

May 9th, 2009
11:43 pm

In what could be considered the most important game of the series, LBJ puts up twice the performance (stats) of the Hawks’ “best player” in said “best player’s” home building…

.. Still “tired” I’m sure.

Terence was right. Good is for losers.

Chuck Uga

May 10th, 2009
12:13 am

Seriously, did anyone really expect the Hawks to win this series? So what is they lose 4-0 or 4-1? Cleveland is on a mission, and no one including Orlando is going to stop them. The pending Lakers-Cavs series looks tasty! I can’t wait. Good for the Hawks to get this far, but they are several players and a superstar away from winning an East title.

merbertmoover

May 10th, 2009
12:13 am

man, don’t get down hawks! just gotta flap flap flap those wings, you know what im sayin? i know lebon-bon be playin all fancy and hittin his shots like he a ninja turtle, but you guys can take this next one fo real baby! do it for the fans homies! and zaza, you big white french fry, cmon man, you know we love you baby, but you gotta keep playin, none of this ejection stuff baby…..its all good i thought ol woody was gonna get a technical too! cmon hawks, lets take this thing back to cleveland, show these fool what the ATL about, you know what im sayin?

mj23

May 10th, 2009
12:16 am

Cavs had only 14 fouls and Hawks had 24 fouls assessed to them. Lebron had 16 free throw attempts alone. David Stern must have sent out a memo to the referees to make it easier for Lebron and the Cavs so they can sweep the Hawks. You can tell Lebron gets preferential treatment on the court, he gets the benefit of the doubt on every call. He charges into the opposing player and yet he gets the calls. Hawks need to put in the Lebron rules, and give him some hard fouls.

Barney

May 10th, 2009
12:20 am

Why does a columnist for the AJC care more about the opposing star stopping by a “party” for a few minutes and not enough about how much the Hawks have wilted this series?

I couldn’t care less about what LeBron does off the court. What he did on the court, and how little the Hawks could muster to deal with it — now that’s a harder story to write.

Kurdt Kobain

May 10th, 2009
12:23 am

Of course Lebron gets his special treatment from the refs.

But still… Cavs are the better team. LeBron is on a mission. Hawks just aren’t to the level of the Cavaliers yet.

Freedog

May 10th, 2009
12:27 am

Sure Lebron is amazing, but the Hawks could have won tonight if they had any leadership (coaching or on the floor – Joe, 5 minutes left int he game doesn’t count). When will Josh Smith realize he’s wide open outside for a reason? Every time he shoots from way out the whole arena collectively sighs. Can’t Woodie or Joe Johnson tell him to stay in the lane or sit on the bench? Can’t Joe step up like a “superstar” when we need him, not when the game is over with 5 minutes left. The Cavs are great and the Hawks are flawed. And to be honest, I don’t see anything different happening unless we move J “Not so Smooth” Smith and pick up a point guard and some heart.

Spirit are Ninnies

May 10th, 2009
12:28 am

Hawks need a top player to have chance at title. Too bad they didn’t trade up to get Dwight Howard a few years ago. He could have been that guy. Better luck next year.

Cuz

May 10th, 2009
12:31 am

Jeff, I stopped by the ATM so we will have enough cash for the table dances at Lebron’s after party. What is the chance that the AJC will pay for the limo I rented? Can’t impress the ladies with that Hyundai I drive. Wait a minute, I am pulling up to the Krystal drive-thru, quick give me your order. Only three cars in front Dude. Dang the stretch won’t make the turn. I’ll just get a sackful. See you at the VIP. I love this aircard, is it tax deductible? Ah, who cares.

Brian

May 10th, 2009
12:45 am

The Hawks are trash just like all of the other Atlanta sports teams. Seriously, why is this team in Atlanta when they’re clearly not wanted? They NEVER accomplish anything of note and never have. Whenever the best you can take about the Hawks is a big series that they LOST in the 80’s. You know you have a really bad franchise.

oldmikey

May 10th, 2009
12:52 am

the jordan rules squared.

MVP23

May 10th, 2009
12:55 am

LBJ looked like a guy on a mission. No wonder he took it upon himself to win this game. He did not want to party with a loss.

Cuz

May 10th, 2009
1:02 am

There is no I in “We suk”. Man this air card is sweet.

Cuz

May 10th, 2009
1:12 am

Jeff, did you bail on me at Lebron’s VIP. What am I going to do with this limo, all these Krystals and the five bottles of Hydroxicut? Oh yeah the lapdancers. Nevermind. Yo girl, work it. Yo baby, yo baby. Uhhhh,,,Jeff,,,, back to you later.

Brendan

May 10th, 2009
1:23 am

The Spirit’s usual modus operandi is to spout some drivel about making “incremental progress,” whenever failure occurs. Ask me if the Hawks winning a playoff series is better than not winning one, I’d say, “yes.” But then I’d add, “But HOW CLOSE are the Hawks, seriously, to being considered a CONTENDER for the NBA title?”

See, that’s what relevant. Things like division titles and 1st round victories are “nice.” They are. But do they make people want to open their wallets and reserve tickets for next year? That’s the question. That question is more likely to be answered by what the Hawks do in the offseason to make themselves a higher caliber roster. If they stay at or about the same, they’ll always just run into the Byrds, Jordans, now LeBrons of the NBA in round II. In other words, they’ll never climb over the hill. So, let’s see what they do.

I’m not going to be furious over a highly predicted sweep by Cleveland. If the Hawks had been favored to win this series, and lost, I’d be hopping mad about what went wrong. That’s called “perspective.” I think it’s wholly unreasonable to EXPECT to win an NBA title every year. That’s crazy. But I don’t think it’s crazy to expect the ownership to identify what’s still “missing” from the Hawks, and at least TRYYYYYY to go get in this offseason. The ball is in the ownership’s court.

TJ0258

May 10th, 2009
1:24 am

Plain and simple, the Hawks need a head coach. Join the movement to bring Avery Johnson to Atlanta.

Eazy E

May 10th, 2009
1:33 am

STOP CALLING HIM LBJ. His middle name is Ramone not B, that would make him LRJ. LBJ was a President not a basketball player. That’s like calling Matt Ryan MTR or Chipper Jones CIJ. Give LaBron’s 41 year old mother some credit and call him LRJ.

Ted Striker

May 10th, 2009
1:47 am

About the party thing, I wouldn’t have a problem with LeBron shooting commercials during halftime. But…karma gets folks later, as well as sooner.

MaSTA SoLIDUS

May 10th, 2009
1:54 am

As a Cleveland Native, Resident, and fan, I have to say I thought hte Hawks would do better than this.

And It’s LBJ, and LB or Bron, but LRJ is his initials. Le Bron James. LBJ. That’s what we call him here, and have since high school

If you are going to nitpick about them using an acronym, spell his name right. LeBron.

Oh, the ATL crowd chanting MVP was very suprising too.

[...] Jeff Schultz placed an observative post today on LeBron knows how to keep a party going | Jeff SchultzHere’s a quick excerptLeBron James scored 47 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers put the Hawks in a 3-0 hole. Then James planned to party. [...]

arealvet

May 10th, 2009
6:46 am

Fact is the Cavs won the game. King James was his usual self. Stop hating on the after party.

Joseph

May 10th, 2009
7:36 am

Terrible reffing in all games. First two games didnt matter, this one did. The refs lost a game directly for Dallas (check it our if you werent following including an NBA apology) and now indirectly for ATL by throwing out Pachulia for arguing. Why shouldnt Pachulia argue? What they called on him and the Hawks, they always turned a blind eye on the King and his court. There must be a memo that says “follow the script” because I really thought the Hawks deserved a better fate last night and I totally understand why they wilted when faced with bush league refs.

Edo River

May 10th, 2009
7:38 am

Hawks just go out with class. Do your best, that’s all we ask.

DawgNole

May 10th, 2009
8:14 am

Brendan, you’ve done an excellent job of summarizing this team’s plight–not just for now but for all of its four-plus decades in Atlanta. And yes, the ball again is in ownership’s court. Just don’t hold your breath expecting any major improvement in the offseason. It is that very lack of improvement each and every year that has led to the team’s inability to survive the second round of the playoffs even once during its entire time in Atlanta. It’s called satisfaction with less than the very best, and it permeates the city’s sports teams, the teams’ ownership, and far too many of the teams’ fans. Thus the sad label of “Losersville.”

Birddawg

May 10th, 2009
8:20 am

Really, did anyone really expect the Hawks to beat these guys? Does anyone expect anybody to beat these guys? Kobe and the Lakers being the best chance for the Cavs to lose at all, the best we can hope for is that the Hawks learn something from this series to help them become a championship team themselves one day. Namely, how to play and win as a team.

renegade

May 10th, 2009
8:22 am

The only way the hawks win a game is if the Cavs players tie up their legs and tape one hand behind their back, put on blindfolds and then its still a little iffy! But they might just suffer only a single digit loss instead of getting run out of the gym. Lord where is Michael,Kareem, and Magic when you need them? Somebody needs to just go ahead and put these hawks out of their misery and LeBron is holding the gun.

Cavs Mania

May 10th, 2009
8:37 am

Atlanta-Cavs series, You know you can whine all you want about the officials of this game, But look at the real reason this series has been one sided! Atlanta is settling for jump shot after jump shot after jump shot. They’re daring Josh Smith to shoot a 15 foot shot. And he is taking that shot and not making it too often.

When Atlanta pushed the ball they were successful, but they’d do that for a few minutes then quit doing it and go right back to jumps shot after jump shot.. Folks you’re not going to the line shooting 20 footers..

NBA has always been known for calling alot of fouls for the ball going to the hoop..

Lebron has the ball on every or nearly every posession. He has taken it to the hoop more in the playoffs then he did in regular season.

I think Atlanta is a real athletic team, but with the injuries they’ve had (and at the wrong time of the season) they are no match for the Cavs. If they were healthy, this wouldve been a much better series.

Stop the whinning and look at reality.. Right now the Cavs are playing as well as anyone in the NBA

Gen Neyland

May 10th, 2009
8:54 am

Yogi Berra was known to toss a whimsical view in the form of one liners, intentional or not, that say it all. Was “It ain’t over till it’s over” a Jeanne Dixon moment of future events regarding the Hawks..? Yogi also said, “The other teams could make trouble for us if they win.” Yep, Yogi knows Hawks…

twocents

May 10th, 2009
8:58 am

The refs are not losing this series for the Hawks. Just ask the players.

luvthecavs

May 10th, 2009
9:06 am

Hey merbertmover and kurdtnobrain-

“WAAAHHH….WAAAHHH…WAAAHHHH”…don’t make excuses for your inadequate team….I unfortunately have to live down here near Atlanta for now but I did enjoy watching King James and CO. take care of business last night…

luvthecavs

May 10th, 2009
9:21 am

Ok Atlanta…you’ve got the Braves…we have the Tribe…hope that helps. Be grateful.

Dave From Cleveland

May 10th, 2009
9:50 am

During the first couple games, when our Cavaliers walked all over your Hawks, I felt a bit sorry for Atlanta. I hoped the Hawks could make more of a game of it, just so they wouldn’t be disgraced.

Then we came to Atlanta and your classless hillbilly fans started booing LeBron every time he had the ball.

Now I’m going to laugh Monday night as we make your Hawks look like a poorly coached high school team.

mike

May 10th, 2009
11:12 am

hey dave from cleveland.. you can have LeBron, but remember one thing.. your city still has no championship, you live in the rust belt, cleveland is the armpit of america, and your women are ugly. No go drink a miller lite and STFU.

Cavs Mania

May 10th, 2009
11:38 am

Dave, i bet if lebron did become a free agent in 2010 and signed with atlanta, they wouldnt be upset too much would they?

Mike far as your cleveland take, you can ask any person from ohio, michigan, tenn, kentucky.. if they take a trip to florida what is the worst part of that drive there? the answer would be going thru Atlanta!

Cleveland guy

May 10th, 2009
11:49 am

Classy, Mike, very classy. I love the sour grapes, though. Keep it up!

barney

May 10th, 2009
12:07 pm

keep crying atlanta , atleast you have more gay clubs to goto then clevelanders , you can be proud of that !On Monday please oh please keep booing lebron…its like putting gas on a fire , or in your southern case like screwing your mother while daddy sits in the corner and jerks -off ,,,ohh Happy Mothersday!!

Stat Man

May 10th, 2009
12:15 pm

Hawks wrapup – They are being beaten by a better team. Injuries have hampered the ability to compete better with them, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Congrats to the Cavs and congrats to the Hawks for yet again improving from the previous season.

Cavs wrapup – Congrats on a wonderful season continuing, but I’d wait until you’ve won it all to start doing doo much trash talking. And for those of you that are so boistrous (means LOUD for those posting that aren’t too bright according to their spelling & grammar), just check back in with everybody with your adoration of LBJ, or LeBron or King James, or whatever you are calling him that day when he signs with another team when he becomes a free agent. My guess is that you will do a 180 and LBJ/King James/Etc. will be replaced with “traitor”, “greedy”, etc.

Bill in Dallas

May 10th, 2009
12:17 pm

The refs were bad, but that’s not why the Hawks are down 0-3. The difference is one team wants it and one team doesn’t. One team is playing hard nosed, in your face basketball and the other is playing all-star game defense. Josh Smith has been outworked and outrebounded by guys that simply want it more. Joe Smith beat him on a foul shot for a dunk rebound (yes, it was goaltending, but if Josh actually tried to block him out he wouldn’t have been close).

This is Mike Woodson’s team. The fact that the Hawks are soft means that Woodson is soft. Soft teams don’t win playoffs. It’s time for a new face that will make these guys play defense 48 minutes every game.

Rick

May 10th, 2009
12:34 pm

Enter your comments here
The Hawks don’t have a true center and their point guard can still play offense, but is a liability on the defensive end. The Hawks have come a long way, but they have problems a coach cannot fix.

When you have four picks in the first round of the last three drafts, you should have more than one guy, Horford, who was worthy of the first round.

raymond

May 10th, 2009
1:14 pm

I am amazed at the comments of some people.I believe everyone has a right to an opinion,but it should be thought out before you let it out.Anyone who thinks that the Hawks problem is the coach is crazy.Yes I said crazy and I thought it out. A new coach would be able to stop Lebron James performance Saturday night.Coaches do not guard a single player nor shoot a single shot.Teams that lost to Jordan couldn’t stop him.I’m not saying each person is crazy,but the comments are. I had to note that because some of these comments end up being mean-spirited.Attack the comments instead of the individual.

Jaxman

May 10th, 2009
1:16 pm

For everyone on here CRYING about Lebron getting the calls (mj23), get a freaking life! Did you actually WATCH the game? What calls? Your OWN COACH said on TV that the Hawks were not going to the line because they were settling for jump shots and that Cleveland was because they were attacking the basket. You have no idea how pathetic you sound!

Jaxman

May 10th, 2009
1:21 pm

Joseph, what are you talking about? What script? Just make excuses. You are what’s wrong with society. Instead of blaming the person responsible, Pachulia, you are deflecting. If you have kids I imagine it is never their fault either? It was a bonehead play by Pachulia. He DID foul and he DID get himself ejected. Joe Johnson was ALL over Lebron and when Lebron finally pushed him off, he got an offensive foul. Look at the tape. You need to changed the glass through which you watch the game…whiner.

Paul

May 10th, 2009
2:23 pm

The Hawks showed enough promise in the Miami series to get me to watch an NBA game for the first time in about 15 years. But the Cleveland series has revealed the fundamental flaws in the league that are still there: 1) a star-centric system dilutes needed emphasis on teamwork, 2) too many players obviously lack real heart when the going gets rough, and 3) too much emphasis on athleticism and too little regard for intelligence keeps the league as just a high-dollar playground game.

One more thing: the league is really going to have to address the tatoo problem. Some of that stuff is downright goulish and truly disturbing to see. Is that really the customer demographic that is supposed to sustain and grow the NBA?

Maybe I’ll check out the Hawks again in another 15 years or so.

NYC

May 10th, 2009
3:41 pm

I hope LeBron gets you Clevelanders a championship – before he bolts to NY! Hmmmm,let’s see… stay in Cleveland or bolt for NY?? Tough call.

Bill in Dallas

May 10th, 2009
4:07 pm

raymond, I do blame the coach. Do you not think that Chuck Daly had something do to with the Pistons? Phil Jackson with the Bulls and Lakers? Rick Adelman never had teams with tons of star power, but they consistently do well in the playoffs.

I don’t blame Woodson for Zaza’s meltdown, but I do blame him for not having his team motivated to play defense. I do blame him for allowing other teams to go to the rim without getting knocked on their butts. I do blame him for finding a way to motivate Josh Smith to actually play the entire time he’s on the court.

The Hawks have been outplayed and outcoached. When our best player gets the ball, you see the double team come immediately. When their best player gets the ball, they run a screen to allow him to be guarded by a much smaller Mike Bibby. Is it not the coachs fault that Bibby got torched 4-5 times in a row? Even Bibby was calling for someone to come help. That suggests that the coach didn’t tell the players to do this automatically or that he did and they weren’t listening. Either way, it’s poor coaching.

cavsfan

May 10th, 2009
4:30 pm

Hey NYC.
See how uninformed you are”, Why would King James want to leave
the championship team he has built to go to a no talented team
like New York.

He is maxed out on his ability to make anymore money from
the people who are allready paying for his endorsement.

I know it is hard to see your team play sooooo badddddd,
but with a healthy team you might have gotten to game four
oh yeah we are there.

So LBJ, is not leaving Cleveland, and if you watch the interview
tonight he wil dispell any notion of not beinh here for a few
more CHAMPIONSHIPS, oh yeah only nine more to GO.

alsim

May 10th, 2009
5:06 pm

I think it is B.S. that the Hawks battle back to make it a game and the referees decide to affect the game with the double-technical call. this time of year they have to let them play.

BAD officiating.

.

Ben

May 10th, 2009
6:20 pm

I’ve seen this movie before with Mookie, Mutumbo, Steve Smith, and Lenny Wilkins. Good team that gave the city post-season basketball but didn’t have a chance in hell of even sniffing the Conference Finals much less a Championship.

JD

May 10th, 2009
10:12 pm

I hate how cocky LeBron is. Yeah, he can obviously back it up, but still…the man has a tattoo that says “Chosen One.” When you get that tattoo, you’re pretty much saying “okay, I’m the best, so now let’s make it obvious to everyone by putting it on my back.”

NYC

May 10th, 2009
11:17 pm

He’ll leave because Cleveland isn’t big enough for his superstar ego. I mean, the guy wears sunglasses all the time and the sun shines on Cleveland like, what – maybe 4 times a year? He’ll bolt, and “The Cavs” will go back to being “The Cavaliers” – irrelevant nobodies.