It was a brilliant end to another brilliant evening for James, who ended the game with nearly a triple double with 44 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
LeBron James won Game 5 for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night with a pair of spectacular plays in the final five seconds: A chase-down block on Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo to maintain a tie game, followed by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win it. He's chiefly responsible for guarding Oladipo. Smith's shot wasn't dropping, but he clapped and had reason to after that.
This one put the Cavs ahead in the series, 3-2, with Game 6 Friday in Indianapolis. "Jeff got it into him, Bron got to his sweet spot and knocked down an open shot".
But while James' shot will long be remembered, the Pacers were stinging from his block they felt was illegal.
Cleveland outscored IN 32-17 IN the third quarter to turn a seven-point halftime deficit into an 81-73 lead. Yikes, Vic. If he's not legitimately bad, IN wins this game.
According to the National Basketball Association rule book, officials must deem that a ball off the backboard "has a chance to score" to call goaltending, and they could have thought otherwise of Oladipo's reverse attempt, which hit low and well to the left of the hoop and would have needed some major spin and possibly a friendly bounce to go in (I'll concede that's not the strongest point, but it's worth considering). Needless to say, none of his 14 buckets was as big as the last one. "Definitely huge", Oladipo said. "The physicality J.R. brought in the second half really got us going offensively".
The Cavs were just 1-of-9 on 3s in the first quarter. James had 35 through 3 quarters and willed the Cavs to victory.
Love shot 2-of-11 in Game 5 and is 19-of-58 in this series.
26-of-27 - No. 23 made all 15 of his free throws, and the Cavs were about as close to flawless as you can be as a team. And the Pacers wouldn't quit.
Moments after blocking Victor Oladipo's possible go-ahead driving layup, James caught the inbounds pass, took two dribbles and dropped the winner over Thaddeus Young. Except, upon closer look, it was fairly clear that the ball had come off the backboard before James got to it and should have been called a goaltend. James' teammates mobbed him.
That's how Game 5 ended Wednesday, with James standing on the scorer's table pounding his chest while 20,562 Clevelanders (either by zip code or emotion) went insane.
James finished with 44 points. Korver nailed two free throws on the next possession.
James deserves every word of praise he gets.
Amusing enough, James' first made three-pointer of the night was the game victor.