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Summer shot changes prompted by sore elbow could position James for fifth MVP award

Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Basketball

CLEVELAND -- Should LeBron James win his fifth NBA Most Valuable Player award this season, the Cavaliers star might have a sore elbow to thank.

As James worked on his game this summer, he said an inflamed elbow didn't allow him to get the regular extension on his shot and he was forced to change his mechanics.

The results have been so spectacular that James could be voted MVP for the first time in five years.

His 25-foot step-back 3-pointer with 16.6 seconds remaining was the game-deciding shot in Wednesday night's 101-95 triumph over the Sacramento Kings at Quicken Loans Arena. It not only capped a 32-point night in which James fell one assist shy of this third triple double in 2017-18, but it enabled the Cavs to tie the franchise record for consecutive regular-season victories with 13.

It was the same "Chicago" play the Cavs ran when James famously "scratched" former coach David Blatt's suggested plan and made a buzzer-beating jumper to win Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Bulls in 2015. This time, coach Tyronn Lue said James suggested it.

Scoreless in the first quarter, James made 12 of 18 field goals, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. The performance improved his season shooting percentages to .587 overall and .430 from long range, the best of his of his 15-year career.

 

James' 3-point percentage is blowing away the Golden State Warriors' Steph Curry (.381) and the Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving (.373). James is nearing Kyle Korver territory (.438).

"He's like 'Give me the ball, we're about to win,' " Korver said. "I've been around some guys who've had amazing years. I've been playing with him, and Derrick (Rose) when he was MVP, Allen Iverson when I was young. But he's taken this to a whole new level.

"It's amazing to have a better than a front-row seat, because I'm usually on the court next to him somewhere."

Korver stands fifth in league history in 3-pointers made, so his words carry weight. After James scored 23 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter of a home victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 22, Korver noted the results of James' offseason work.

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