Skip Bayless: ‘LeBron owed his team that win last night. He hasn’t been there for a long, long time’

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Skip Bayless discuss the Cleveland Cavaliers 140-138 OT win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Skip explains to Shannon Sharpe and Joy Taylor why LeBron James 'owed' this win to his team.

- Clearly, LeBron James owed his team that game last night because he has not been there for his team for a long, long time. And after a rocky finish to regulation-- and I'll get to that in just a moment-- he paid his team back with what I thought was the greatest overtime at least of his-- we could look at some of the playoffs, but certainly regular season, it was his greatest overtime of his career.

I'm going to give you that because you can't do better than 4 for 4 with the way he did the four. All four were big time shots at big time moments.

SHANNON SHARPE: Correct.

- And he did have a block that I will get to in just a moment, also. But let's keep this in perspective because we're not going to get any from that side of the table. Going into this game last night, LeBron was in the midst of, by far, the worst stretch and slump of his career. Is that fair to say? I just want to make sure we're on the same page here.

- Yes! Yes!

- Because over the last 19 games, and obviously, they had gone 6 and 13 over those 19 games, LeBron has been shockingly, inexplicably awful, to the point that we use the Dave McMenamin quote from ESPN.com, quoting a scout who was at the previous game the night before at Orlando where they blew another big lead and just came apart in the fourth quarter. And LeBron just disappeared down the stretch in the fourth quarter just the night before at Orlando. And the scout said he has lost a step. He can't blow by anyone anymore.

And I'm going to point out, I defended him on that because I said, hey, that's not true.

SHANNON SHARPE: Not true.

- Maybe he doesn't have the energy on defense anymore.

SHANNON SHARPE: Correct.

- Maybe he doesn't utilize the quickness and explosion we used to see on the defensive end. But on the offensive end, when he wants to get to the rack, man, he just gets to the rack.

SHANNON SHARPE: He's going to the hoop.

SKIP BAYLESS: Yeah, and I don't see any drop off there. But I do see drop off in impact. Because over the last 19 games, plus-minus, which means for those who don't get it, that the minute you're on the floor, what's the score of the game? What's the point differential in the game? LeBron was a minus-147 over the last 19 games. That's a lot of games since Christmas.

SHANNON SHARPE: Correct.

- That was dead last of the entire NBA-- sorry, Joy-- last of the whole NBA, of 518 players. That's just shockingly bad. And by the way, in late, in close situations through the last 19 games, LeBron is 1 for 8 over that stretch. Which if you look at the 31 players who have taken eight or more shots in that stretch, he's tied for last-- 1 for 8 shots.

So he's left some games on the table late in games. And that's why I say-- remember the Indiana game? They got the switch. Darren-- little 6 foot Darren Collison's on him in the corner, and he blows by him, and he steps on the endline. And it's like, LeBron, you've got to save your team. Indiana isn't that good. And now, Indiana had beaten them every time.

OK. So now, back to last night. So we get to the end of regulation last night, and I am screaming for LeBron, with the game tied, just go to the hole. They can't keep you from the hole, but you've got to have the guts to just make one free throw, just one. Because if you get fouled, you get two chances to make one, and the game's going to be over.

And to LeBron's point, he's 33 years of age, now. He don't want no overtime. And he doesn't want two, but he didn't want one, either. And he could have ended it right there. And it drives me nuts because, if you look at his free throws in those late and close situations where it's tied or, you know, you're behind, or you can go ahead--

SHANNON SHARPE: Tie it to put the team [INAUDIBLE].

- Yeah. In the last few seconds, the last five seconds, he's, for his career, 8 of 14, which is 57%, which, since his rookie season, is last in the NBA of people who've taken at least five free throws in that circumstance, that late situation circumstance. And of those 14 attempts, only one has come in a playoff game. So it just got to the point where LeBron said, that's not my forte to shoot these free throws. I just don't want to shoot 'em. I'm going to shy away from that. I'm going to avoid it.

So at the end of regulation last night, I'm out of my mind. I just want him to try to make one free throw. And what did he do? He pulled up and shot it from Akron.

- And he was-- but here's the thing, though, Skip. In all of that, LeBron James only took-- shot two free throws last night. So what was--

SKIP BAYLESS: So he was already 0 for 2 on his free throws.

SHANNON SHARPE: OK, he was 0 for 2. So with that amount-- of the amount that LeBron James goes after the basket, what's the likelihood of them calling the foul?

SKIP BAYLESS: It's in his house. I think it's pretty high. I-- I--

SHANNON SHARPE: Well, why didn't they call more? Why didn't they call more than two?

SKIP BAYLESS: --I'm going to say, well, I don't how many times he actually tried to get to the free throw line. Again, in that situation, I'm going to give it-- I'm going to give it a 75% chance you're going to get that call if you're the King in your palace.

- Well, in the first half, Skip, he was 6 of 6 in the paint.

- Yep.

- He was 0 for 3 outside. So he's 6 for 9. He shot two free throws. So he's seeing how they're calling the game. And plus, at the point he had pulled up, you know he was cooking from three, right?

SKIP BAYLESS: He was cooking from-- they were cooking from three, too, the whole team was.

SHANNON SHARPE: Yeah! NBA record, combined.

- By the way-- combined. 40 threes got made. It took overtime, but 40 threes, and the Cavs won it 21 to 19, won the shoot-out from three? But still, even though you're cooking, even though you're 0 for 2, I just think you can make one free throw if you're that guy, because the greatest thing he does, the thing he's done greater than anybody in the history of basketball, is freight train to the basket.

Still to this moment, I don't think there's anybody who can keep him from getting to the basket when he decides. But you got to decide. You've got to do it with conviction. And I don't think Jimmy Butler, as terrific a defender as he is, he can't guard LeBron James.

- And he--