LeBron James sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer Wednesday, lifting the Cleveland Cavaliers to 98-95 victory and a 3-2 first-round series lead over the Indiana Pacers.
James scored 44 points, hitting 14 of 24 field-goal attempts and all 15 free throws. He contributed 10 rebounds, eight assists and a huge blocked shot on the Pacers' final possession just before his game-winner.
"As a kid, you always have those 'three-two-one' moments and being able to have one of those moments, that's what it kind of felt like," James said. "Felt like I was a kid all over again. Just playing basketball at my house, makeshift hoops and my socks as a basketball. Making the (swish) noise."
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said of the winning shot, "As soon as it left his hand, it looked perfect. On target and it looked good. Another big shot he made for us. So we needed that."
Kyle Korver hit 5 of 9 3-point attempts en route to 19 points for the Cavaliers, who shot 41.3 percent from the floor. Kevin Love contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavs.
Cleveland would advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a win in Game 6 at Indianapolis on Friday night.
Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting. The offensive struggles of Indiana's leading regular-season scorer, Victor Oladipo, continued as he put up 12 points on 2-of-15 shooting. Oladipo is 12 of 50 from the field in the past three games.
Thaddeus Young scored 16 on 8-of-9 shooting for the Pacers. Lance Stephenson had 12 points off the bench for Indiana, which shot 47.9 percent from the floor. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 11 points, and Oladipo pulled down 12 rebounds.
The Cavaliers hit their first 21 free throws before finally missing late in the third quarter. Cleveland finished 26 of 27 from the foul line. Indiana was 21 of 27 from the foul line.
Cleveland outscored Indiana 32-17 in the third quarter to turn a seven-point halftime deficit into an 81-73 lead. The Pacers were 5 of 16 from the field while committing seven turnovers in the third.
The Pacers used a 6-0 run to tie it at 95-all with 14-foot jumper by Sabonis with 33.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. James then turned the ball over with 26.3 seconds left, but Jamesblocked Oladipo's shot at the rim with three seconds left.
Despite Oladipo's 2-for-9 shooting performance, the Pacers hit 21 of 38 shots (55.3 percent) to lead 56-49 at halftime.
Cleveland played without George Hill (back spasms) for the second consecutive game, but the presence of James was too much for Indiana to overcome.
"He really did impose his will throughout the game," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "We weren't doing a good job of holding our ground against him."
(NBA Playoffs are being telecast Live on Sony Six 5:30am onwards)
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