I’ll see your Derrick Rose walk-off, bank shot, fade-away jumper from the right wing over Tristan Thompson and raise you a LeBron James walk-off, step-back jumper, deep in the left corner over Jimmy Butler.
With 1.5 seconds left on the clock, James caught an inbound pass from Matthew Dellavedova and the rest was history.
The Cleveland Cavaliers tied their second-round series against the Chicago Bulls at two games apiece after another barn burner at the United Center.
The series of events that led up to the shot was very peculiar to say the least. With the Cavaliers up by two and 14 seconds left in the fourth, James Jones hit LeBron with an inbound pass, James was called for an offensive foul after elbowing Mike Dunleavy in the nose. On the next Bulls possession Rose hit an acrobatic layup to tie the game at 84.
With no timeouts left James strode down court and attacked the basket off the right wing where he was met by Joakim Noah. James lost the ball after contact with Noah and the ball went out of bounds with what was thought to be 0.8 seconds left. The officials subsequently reviewed the play and put 1.5 seconds back on the clock.
This was then followed by one of the biggest shots in the King’s career.
Similarly to Rose’s miraculous heave in game three James made an audible from the original play drawn up by coach David Blatt in the huddle. After the game James told reporters:
“To be honest, the play the way [it was] drawn up, I scratched. I just told coach, ‘Give me the ball.’ We’re either going to overtime or I’m winning it for us. It was that simple. I was supposed to take the ball out. I told coach, ‘There’s no way I’m taking the ball out, unless I can shoot it over the backboard and it goes in. I told him, ‘Have somebody else take the ball out, give me the ball, and everybody get out of the way.” (Quote from Ben Goliver)
Wow, how much would that decision have been ridiculed if LeBron took the ball out as originally planned?
Before that shot LeBron had again played another highly inefficient game (10 of 30 from the field, eight turnovers) that still resulted in some pretty gaudy stats (25 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists). It wasn’t pretty but it was just enough to keep hope alive in the City by the Lake.
With new life in the series there is still cause for concern because the Robin to LeBron’s Dark Knight, Kyrie Irving is clearly not himself after re-aggravating a foot injury in game three. The burst and craftiness we have come to know and love from Uncle Drew isn’t there anymore.
Lucky enough for the Cavs several role players were there to pick up the slack, in particular Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith. Mozgov was tough under the glass all night (nine rebounds) and contributed nicely on offense (15 points). Timo was the recipient of some nice passes from James off the pick and roll. Both James and Mozgov continue to show good chemistry with each other in the two-man game.
Smith was huge in the fourth quarter as he took us all on a fantastic voyage known as the J.R. Smith experience. He hit three huge triples and then proceeded to garner a technical foul after shoving Nikola Mirotic. He giveth and he taketh away.
It will be interesting to see if Blatt reinserts Smith back in the starting five with Iman Shumpert struggling on the offensive end (just five points, 1 of 8 from the field).
Home court advantage swings back in the favor of the Cavs, with two of the last three games scheduled to be at the Quicken Loans Arena. Game five is Tuesday.
(All stats per NBA.com)