CLEVELAND – LeBron James had a miserable start and a memorable finish. As a result, the Cleveland Cavaliers are one win away from their second NBA Finals trip in franchise history.
James had 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists after missing his first 10 shots and the Cavaliers beat the Atlanta Hawks 114-111 in overtime Sunday night to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.
"Started out the game just out of character, out of rhythm. But I had to make a difference," James said. "It's a great feeling to be able to make plays for your teammates. I'm happy I was able to make a few."
It was the Cavaliers' second straight game without guard Kyrie Irving, who again sat with tendinitis in his left knee. James covered for him.
"He just wouldn't let us lose," coach David Blatt said.
The Hawks had a chance to force a second overtime, but Shelvin Mack missed two three-pointers in the final seconds.
Jeff Teague had 30 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Hawks.
Typically mild-mannered Hawks center Al Horford was assessed a flagrant-2 and ejected in the final minute of the first half with the Cavaliers leading 48-47. Matthew Dellavedova and Horford were fighting for rebounding position when Dellavedova stumbled over DeMarre Carroll and fell into Horford's leg.
Horford responded by dropping an elbow on Dellavedova.
After a lengthy review, Dellavedova was given a technical and Horford was ejected.
James appeared to injure his right knee in the overtime session and initially asked out of the game, but he changed his mind and played through it.