|Atlanta Hawks||111 F/OT|
LeBron James turned around what began as a horrid shooting performance to score 37 points and guide the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 114-111 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday night.
The victory leaves the Cavaliers a win away from advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2006-07 and just the second time in franchise history.
James, who missed his first 10 shots on the night, added 18 rebounds and 13 assists to record a triple-double while playing a game-high 47 minutes.
With 36.4 seconds remaining in overtime, James hit a three-pointer to put the Cavaliers ahead by one, and followed that up with a driving layup with 12.8 left on the clock to stake Cleveland to a three-point lead.
Shelvin Mack had two three-point opportunities for the Hawks in the closing seconds, but could not get either to fall before time expired.
The hero for Cleveland, James, appeared to be favoring his right leg for the majority of the overtime period, and collapsed to the floor exhausted after the final horn.
While James struggled shooting early, the Hawks jumped out in front, holding a 24-21 lead at the end of the first quarter behind 8 points from Al Horford.
James finally hit his first shot from the field with just over 7 minutes remaining in the second quarter, narrowing the Hawks lead to five. Despite trailing by eight with under five-and-a-half minutes to play in the first half, the Cavaliers were able to close the deficit to just a point, entering the locker room at a 49-48 disadvantage.
Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half and was involved in a game-changing play with under a minute to go before halftime.
Battling for a loose ball, Dellavedova was locked up with Al Horford and lost his balance, rolling into Horford’s leg. As Horford fell to the floor, he threw an elbow aimed towards Dellavedova’s head, striking him above the shoulders.
After review, Horford was given a Flagrant foul 2, resulting in his ejection from the game. He finished the night with 14 points in 19 minutes. The referees handed Dellavedova a technical foul.
Down by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Hawks battled back and took a four-point lead into the final minute-and-a-half of regulation. A late free throw by Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert tied the score at 104-104 sending the game to overtime.
For the Cavaliers, J.R. Smith chipped in with 17 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double in the win. Shumpert connected on 4-of-8 three point attempts in the game, finishing with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
Leading the offense for the Hawks, Jeff Teague dropped in 30 points on 9-of-23 shooting to go along with six rebounds and seven assists. Paul Millsap pitched in with 22 points, hitting all 11 of his free throw attempts in the contest.
The two teams will meet again Tuesday night for Game 4, with tip-off scheduled for 8:30 PM.
Cleveland- Kyrie Irving sat out Sunday night, still nursing a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup in Game 2. He participated in warmups with the team, but was ruled out of action a little under an hour before game time. The Cavaliers will hope to have Irving back healthy Tuesday night.
Atlanta- The Hawks were without shooting guard Kyle Korver Sunday night and will be for the remainder of the playoffs. Korver suffered an ankle sprain in Game 2 while attempting to beat Matthew Dellavedova to a loose ball. He will undergo further tests on that injured ankle to determine if surgery will be required.