Cavaliers 114, Hawks 111 OT (Cleveland leads series, 3-0)
No Kevin Love. No Kyrie Irving. No problem for LeBron James, who registered a man-sized triple-double in a 114-111 Game 3 win over the Atlanta Hawks to go up 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite starting 0-for-10 from the floor, James used a 15-point third quarter to finish with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists to secure the overtime win. He simply would not be denied down the stretch and made every play his team needed despite battling a collection of injuries.
“For me, as a leader, no matter how I’m feeling I gotta try to make some plays,” James said following the game. “I started the game out of character, out of rhythm, but I had to make a difference. A game like this, being back on our home floor, it’s always a great feeling to make plays for your teammates and I was happy I was able to make a few.”
The final play James made came with 12 seconds remaining in the contest, as he delivered from the right corner to extend the Cavs lead to three. Atlanta would go on to have a chance to tie but two shots from Shelvin Mack missed the mark as the Hawks’ valiant effort fell just as short. After time expired, LeBron collapsed near center court after setting Cleveland up for a chance to sweep the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seeded team.
“Unbelievable,” Coach David Blatt said of James’ performance. “Just unbelievable. I’ve never seen a stat line like that in a playoff game, or any game to be honest with you. But it’s not just the stat line. LeBron cramped up, he knew we couldn’t win the game without him, and he played through pain. He played through the cramping, and he just would not let us lose. Amazing.”
The Hawks, playing without an injured Kyle Korver, became even more shorthanded in the first half when Al Horford received a Flagrant 2 after getting tangled up with Matthew Dellavedova. The play—for which Dellavedova also received a technical—could have just as easily been a Flagrant 1. But after pacing the Hawks with 14 first half points, Horford was sent to the showers early. Jeff Teague would step up in his absence to finish with 30 points to go along with seven assists. Paul Millsap added 22 and 9, and Kent Bazemore, getting the start in place of Korver, chipped in 14.
While starting slow offensively as a team, the Cavaliers created a number of second-chance opportunities for themselves throughout the night by dominating the offensive glass. Led by eight offensive boards from James, Cleveland led Atlanta in that category, 19-6. JR Smith double-doubled with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Dellavedova added 17 points. Iman Shumpert finished with 15 as Kyrie Irving missed his second-straight game with tendinitis in his left knee.
Cleveland will now have a chance to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007 with a win over Atlanta on Tuesday.
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