Just like MJ, James stuns Raptors with late basket

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James hits the game-winning shot over the outstretched hand of O.G. Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors to give his team a 105-103 win in Game 3 and a 3-0 advantage in their Eastern Conference semi-finals series at Quicken
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James hits the game-winning shot over the outstretched hand of O.G. Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors to give his team a 105-103 win in Game 3 and a 3-0 advantage in their Eastern Conference semi-finals series at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LeBron says he 'lives for those moments' as Cavs lead 3-0 in East semi-final series

PHILADELPHIA • Two buzzer-beaters, two contrasting reactions. One silenced the Wells Fargo Centre crowd while the other brought the fans at Quicken Loans Arena to their feet on Saturday night.

In Cleveland, LeBron James banked in an off-balance floater at the buzzer, lifting the Cavaliers to a 105-103 Game 3 win over the Toronto Raptors and a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-final series.

His 10-footer came just seconds after Toronto had tied it 103-103 on rookie O.G. Anunoby's three-pointer with eight seconds on the clock.

But James was not done yet.

He took an inbounds pass, drove the length of the court and promptly sank the running one-handed dagger off the backboard to stun the Raptors' bench.

"I live for those moments, to be able to go out and come through for my team," James said in an interview with ESPN after soaking up the applause of the sell-out crowd.

 

  • Seconds left before LeBron James took an inbounds pass, drove the length of the court and sank an off-balance floater to seal the win for the Cleveland Cavaliers

  • 5.5

    Seconds left in overtime when Boston Celtics' Al Horford made a go-ahead lay-up before he stole the ensuing inbounds pass, got fouled and made both free throws to seal the win

"Tie game, down one or whatever the case may be. Like I told you all in the Indiana series (Cavs prevailed 4-3), that mental clock of being a kid and kind of telling myself, '3, 2, 1'... I've been doing that since I was six, seven, eight years old.

"It's my job in the fourth (quarter) to close it."

The forward finished with 38 points, while team-mates Kevin Love added 21 points and Kyle Korver had 18 points.

Cleveland are on the verge of sweeping the Raptors for the second consecutive year and, with an 11-2 all-time play-off record, the deflated opposition are aware James has their number.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey admitted to the narrative that the mental barrier of James was too much for his team to overcome.

"It reminds me of back in the days of having to get over the hurdle of (Michael) Jordan," he said after Toronto went 0-6 in play-off games on James' home court, equalling the Atlanta Hawks for the worst post-season record by an opposition team.

"At some point, you've got to get over that hurdle, you've got to knock the wall down."

Kyle Lowry scored 27 for Toronto, who played most of the fourth quarter with DeMar DeRozan on the bench.

The Toronto guard, who was producing 25.8 points per game in the post-season, never got going as Casey made him sit out down the stretch.

"It was extremely hard... it sucks to be watching," he said.

In Philadelphia, both Sixers coach Brett Brown and the confetti cannon thought the game was over at the end of regulation time after a jumper by 76ers' Marco Belinelli tied the score at 89-89.

But the premature celebration - his shot was initially thought to be a three-pointer - quickly turned into a nightmare for the Sixers when the Boston Celtics emerged with a 101-98 victory in overtime to stun the home supporters into silence.

The 76ers were hoping to gain some traction, but Al Horford ultimately made them pay as the Celtics took a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

He made a go-ahead lay-up with 5.5sec left in overtime, before stealing the ensuing inbounds pass.

Horford was then fouled and the centre sealed the win after making both free throws.

Joel Embiid paced the Sixers with 22 points while Boston were led by Jayson Tatum's 24 points.

Both Game 4s are today and the odds are stacked against Toronto and Philadelphia.

Of the 129 teams in NBA history to fall behind 0-3, none have come back to win.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2018, with the headline 'Just like MJ, James stuns Raptors with late basket'. Print Edition | Subscribe