With the "Big 3" reduced to the "Banged-Up 2," LeBron James again showed why he's Cleveland's one and only.
James scored 38 points, Kyrie Irving added 25 and Cleveland held off visiting Chicago's charge in the fourth quarter for a 106-101 victory Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their testy Eastern Conference semifinal.
Showing no ill effects from a sprained left ankle, James added 12 rebounds, six assists and didn't have a turnover in 41 minutes.
"LeBron was just outstanding, every element of the game," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "You can't pick a thing he didn't do at the highest level."
Cleveland can wrap up the best-of-seven series with a win in Game 6 on Thursday night back at United Center in Chicago, where the teams exchanged buzzer-beating victories last weekend.
The drama wasn't quite as high in Game 5, but it was close.
Jimmy Butler scored 29 and Mike Dunleavy 19 for Chicago. Derrick Rose scored 16, 12 in the first quarter, but the star guard shot just 2-for-15 in the final three quarters and aggravated a shoulder "stinger" he sustained in Game 1.
Fueled by an altercation that led to the ejection of Chicago's Taj Gibson, the Cavs led by 17 points with a little more than six minutes left and then had to hold off a furious comeback by the Bulls, who got within 101-99 on Butler's three-pointer with 1:18 to play.
Cleveland, though, got a huge offensive rebound by Iman Shumpert before Irving, playing on a sprained right foot and sore left knee, made four free throws in the final 17 seconds.
The Bulls were missing big man Pau Gasol, who sat out his second consecutive game with a strained left hamstring.
Chicago also played the final 10:25 without Gibson, ejected for kicking Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova.
Gibson shoved Dellavedova to the floor and then kicked the scrappy backup, who angered the Bulls forward by clamping his legs around Gibson's. Players on both teams exchanged shoves and pushes. Gibson could be facing further discipline from the league, and Dellavedova, too.
The Cavs were sparked by the incident and opened a 90-73 lead before the Bulls rallied.
Dunleavy scored six points in an 11-0 run that got Chicago back in it, but the Cavs gained their composure and closed it out.
James didn't show any signs of being slowed by the sprain he suffered late in Game 4. He scored Cleveland's first 12 points of the second quarter, helping the Cavs open a 10-point lead.
"We were slow. He was quicker," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.
"We just need to respond to him better."
Houston 124, Los Angeles Clippers 103: James Harden had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and Dwight Howard added 20 points and 15 rebounds, as the host Rockets bounced back from two lopsided losses to avoid elimination with a 21-point victory that pulled them within 3-2 of their series with the Clippers.
The Rockets hadn't lost three in a row all season, and with their season on the line they ended their skid to send it back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Thursday night.
Houston used a 36-point second quarter to take a commanding 15-point lead at halftime and withstood a third-quarter surge by Los Angeles.
Blake Griffin had 30 points and 16 rebounds for the Clippers. Chris Paul added 22 points and 10 assists.