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LeBron clutch plays, triple-double push Cavs past Hawks in OT

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – LeBron James ignored the pain of his injuries and knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer and the game-sealing basket in overtime as the Cleveland Cavaliers escaped the Atlanta Hawks, 114-111, in the 2015 NBA Eastern Conference Finals on Monday, May 25 (Sunday, May 24 in the US) at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. 

It was an emotional and taxing outing for James as he overcame a miserable 0-of-10 shooting to start Game 3 – as well as a career-worst 0-of-9 first quarter – and finished with a triple-double of 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists. He also had 3 steals. 

“I worked extremely hard and for me as a leader, I gotta try and make some plays. I was out of rhythm but I had to make a difference,” said the 4-time NBA MVP as Cleveland took a daunting 3-0 series lead over Atlanta.

With a 111-109 deficit staring Cleveland in the face, a slightly limping James faked off his defender and willed a corner triple to fall to shove his team ahead by a hair, 112-111, with 36.4 remaining in overtime.

He gave the Cavaliers some insurance with a bucket off the glass with 12.8 left as the Hawks failed to force a second extension. 

James played through a nagging knee injury that was tended to all throughout the game. He was seen limping in the fourth and initially asked to be substituted but eventually stayed on the floor.

“At that point I felt like I could give more. It was mind over matter. There was no way I could go to the bench,” explained James, who was the picture of much relief after the final buzzer on his knees, face down on the floor of his homecourt.

Game 4

“It’s incredible. I have not seen a statline like that. It’s not just the statline,” said Cavs head coach David Blatt of his star player. “[He] played through the pain and he played through the cramping. He just wouldn't let us lose.”

Asked if his injuries would bar him from playing Game 4, James was confident, “no chance, no chance at all.” 

JR Smith and Matthew Dellavedova each posted 17 points as Smith added 10 rebounds to his name. 

An undermanned Cleveland got 15 and 10 points, respectively, from Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson. Shumpert tied the game up at 104-all with a split from the line as Jeff Teague missed a potential Atlanta game-winner at the end of regulation.

Teague showed the way for the Hawks with an all-around game of 30 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. 

Teague, who was a perfect 9-of-9 from the stripe, gave his team the lead twice in overtime highlighted by a stepback trey for a 111-109 Atlanta advantage with 55 seconds to play.

Paul Millsap finished with 22 points and 9 rebounds for the Hawks while Kent Bazemore and Demarre Carroll added 14 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench. Shelvin Mack came off the bench for 13 markers.

The Cavs, already missing the services of key player Kevin Love, played without guard Kyrie Irving who was ruled out due to a left knee tendinitis.

The Hawks were also short-handed in Game 3 without sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who ended his season with a severe right ankle sprain.

Their rotation suffered more problems as starter Al Horford was slapped with a flagrant foul penalty 2 and got tossed from the game with 34.3 seconds left in the second quarter.

Horford threw an elbow to Dellavedova, who tripped and fell onto Horford as both players went for the loose ball. 

Blatt defended his player later in the game during a sideline interview.

“There is a pattern of behavior,” he said. “He plays very hard, he plays very tough but very cleanly.”

– Rappler.com