MILWAUKEE (Wisconsin) • On Saturday, the Milwaukee Bucks were as close to full strength as they have been all National Basketball Association season and it turned out they would need every bit of it to outlast the Cleveland Cavaliers, 108-105 in double overtime.
Milwaukee led for most of the second and third quarters and had plenty of chances to put the game away early in the fourth, but when the Bucks' shots stopped falling, Cavaliers forward LeBron James took over.
He scored a game-high 37 points at the Bradley Centre and accounted for Cleveland's final six points in regulation time. He tied the game at 94-94 on a drive through the lane for an easy dunk with 16.5 seconds left.
Milwaukee had a chance to win at the buzzer but reserve guard Jerryd Bayless' jumper was short, and the teams moved to overtime.
"This is the best team in the East and one of the best in the league," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "We had opportunities to win it earlier but we kept playing, kept competing."
Again, James was a dominant force for the Cavs (8-2), dropping in seven points during the first extra session. But with a chance to win it at the buzzer, James passed up on a drive and settled for a long two-pointer that missed.
He would add four more in the second extra period, but Milwaukee got three-pointers from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and guard Greivis Vasquez, and went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line to close it out.
"We played from behind and I've tried to get us out of a hole late," James said. "Maybe I need to get (my team-mates) involved earlier."
Bayless had 17 off the bench to lead Milwaukee and also grabbed six rebounds to go along with five assists. To top it off, he spent the game's final minutes matched up against James - scoreless over the last 3:15 - after Antetokounmpo fouled out.
Forward Kevin Love added 24 with 14 rebounds for Cleveland, who shot 40.7 per cent from the field and were 14-for-38 from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers also committed 21 turnovers, which Milwaukee (5-5) turned into 26 points.
"We have to do a better job," said James, who had seven turnovers on the night. "Myself included."
The defeat snapped Cleveland's eight-game win streak.
Over in Oakland, the Golden State Warriors' unbeaten record this season hung in the balance but the NBA champions managed to outlast the Brooklyn Nets 107-99 for their 11th consecutive victory.
Reserve swingman Andre Iguodala tied the game with a three-pointer with 5.9 seconds remaining in regulation.
But the Nets missed a gilt-edged chance before time expired.
Nets centre Brook Lopez could not convert a lob pass from no more than two feet in front of the rim as time expired, extending the game and eventually leading to the Nets' ninth loss in 10 games this season.
"We feel like we should have had this one," he said. "I blew that chip shot. Joe (Johnson) made a perfect pass. It was exactly the way the play was drawn up.
"I owe Joe. He put that on a platter and I just blew it."
The Nets did not respond well to the misfortune. They scored only two points in the five-minute overtime after they had fallen 10 down in the first 3:10.
The game saw Warriors guard Stephen Curry finish with a game-high 34 points, including five three-pointers to pass his father, Dell, on the NBA all-time list for threes.
The reigning Most Valuable Player now has 1,248 three pointers, three more than Dell Curry, who ranks 43rd on the all-time list.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE