LeBron James watched his coach draw up the final play — and then drew one up of his own.
Give me the ball and get out of the way,” he said.
BOX SCORE: CAVALIERS 86, BULLS 84
James overruled Cleveland coach David Blatt’s idea for a last-second inbounds play and drained a jumper from the corner at the buzzer to give the Cavaliers an 86-84 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, evening the Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.
During a stoppage the Cavs only got because the officials were reviewing a play, Blatt designed a play that had James taking the ball out. The four-time NBA MVP has been in enough pressure situations that he vetoed his coach.
“I was supposed to take the ball out,” James said. “I told Coach there was no way I’m taking the ball out unless I could shoot it over the backboard and go in. So I told him, `Have somebody else take the ball out.’ The play that was drawn up, I scratched it. I just told Coach, `Just give me the ball. We’re either going to go into overtime or I’m going to win it for us.'”
James, playing the final quarter on a sprained left ankle, finished with 25 points to help the Cavaliers win in another wild finish, returning the favor after Chicago took Game 3 on Derrick Rose’s banked 3-pointer at the horn.
This time, James got whistled for an offensive foul when he elbowed Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Rose scored on a driving layup with 9.4 seconds left. Blatt tried to call a timeout but didn’t have one and assistant Tyronn Lue alertly pulled him off the court.
Then, following an animated break, James ended it with the 21-foot jumper over Jimmy Butler, setting off a wild celebration by Cleveland’s players who pinned James to the scorer’s table.
Game 5 of the best-of-seven series that’s had about everything is Tuesday night in Cleveland.