Lebron Hits Winning Bucket at the Buzzer in OT to Beat Minnesota
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James dropped in a fade-away jumper over Jimmy Butler's outstretched hand as the buzzer sounded in overtime, giving the Cavaliers a 140-138 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night.
Moments after blocking Butler's potential game-winning shot with 1.3 seconds left, James caught a long inbounds pass from Jeff Green, created some space from Butler near the foul line and sank a shot that ended Cleveland's eight-game losing streak on national television.
"Once I caught it, I just trusted everything I've done in my career," James said.
The Quicken Loans Arena crowd erupted and James was mobbed by teammates as the struggling Cavs, who have won just seven of their last 20 games, finally had something to celebrate after weeks of tension and turmoil in a season slowly slipping away.
But as he has done so many times, James delivered one of those moments that have defined him.
"The way we've been playing, we needed that," said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, who was back on the bench after falling ill Tuesday night in Orlando. "He was very special."
James finished with 37 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in 48 minutes. The three-time NBA champion also passed Zydrunas Ilgauskas (5,904) on Cleveland's career rebounds list.
Butler scored 35, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 for the Timberwolves, who were in position to win in OT before James came to Cleveland's rescue.
With the score tied 138-all, Butler drove the left side and had a step on rookie Cedi Osman before pulling up for a short shot. However, James, who had missed a 3-pointer that would have won it in regulation, came from the weak side to reject it and set up the dramatic finish.
"I didn't see him," Butler said. "That's part of the game."
The Cavs had lost their eight previous network broadcast appearances this season, prompting James to say last week following a lopsided loss to Houston that he and his teammates should be dropped from any more telecasts.
Finally, they were primed for prime time.
However, James wasn't ready to lift his self-imposed TV ban.
"It was a good win, but our record still stinks on national television," said James, who scored nine points and assisted on Cleveland's other basket in overtime. "We've got a couple coming up, so we'll try to change that."
J.R. Smith added 20 points and Isaiah Thomas had 13 and seven assists in one of his best games in weeks.
Towns made all six of his 3-point attempts and Minnesota drained a season-high 19 3-pointers, but the Timberwolves were unable to stop James when it mattered most.
"One second in the game, it's a tough play — and he made a hell of a shot," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You don't want to foul him, and I thought KAT (Towns) had great pressure on the ball. LeBron was in command of the game offensively and handling the basketball. LeBron can read the game better than anyone in the league."
Cleveland made 21 3-pointers as the clubs combined to hit an NBA-record 40. The previous mark was 39 set by Golden State and Dallas on March 25, 2016.