National Basketball Association
Cleveland 114, Atlanta 111
When: 8:30 PM ET, Sunday, May 24, 2015
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
#14 Ed Malloy, #30 John Goble, #25 Tony Brothers
CLEVELAND -- When it was over, after LeBron James carried the Cleveland Cavaliers within one victory of the NBA Finals, he fell to his knees and dropped his head on the court.
It may have been a made-for-Hollywood moment, but the game's biggest star again shined the brightest on the game's biggest stage.
Exhausted and injured, James shook off the worst playoff start in his career to score 37 points, grab 18 rebounds and pass for 13 assists in the Cavaliers' 114-111 overtime victory against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, giving Cleveland a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Cavaliers will go for the sweep at home Tuesday night.
"I have never seen a stat line like that in a playoff game or any other game," Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. "He just wouldn't let us lose. Just would not let us lose. Amazing."
James cramped up again and compared it to last year's Game 1 of the NBA Finals, when he cramped up and couldn't finish a loss to the San Antonio Spurs in an overheated AT&T Center.
"I play to exhaustion. Sometimes the body shuts down at times, and that's what happened," said James, who temporarily asked out of the game in overtime before changing his mind. "I wouldn't have felt right about the situation win, lose or draw if I'd have went to the bench. It's mind over matter at that point."
The Cavaliers played their second consecutive game without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who again sat out due to left knee tendinitis. Cleveland hasn't really needed him yet in the series against the East's top seed.
The Hawks had a chance to force a second overtime, but guard Shelvin Mack missed a pair of 3-point attempts in the final seconds.
Reserve guard J.R. Smith had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and guard Matthew Dellavedova scored 17 points in place of Irving for the Cavaliers, whose only other Finals trip was with James in 2007.
The Cavaliers are rolling; the Hawks are reeling.
Guard Jeff Teague temporarily gave the Hawks a 111-109 overtime lead on a step-back 3-pointer in the final minute, but James scored the game's final five points for the victory.
The Hawks had a chance to win it in regulation, but Teague missed a clean look at a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Teague had 30 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Millsap added 22 points and nine rebounds. Hawks guard Kent Bazemore contributed 14 points and seven rebounds while filling in for injured guard Kyle Korver.
"I'm very proud of the way our group competed," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "If we compete like that every possession -- that's how we're built. That's the character of our players."
Typically mild-mannered Hawks center Al Horford was assessed a flagrant-2 foul and ejected in the final minute of the first half with the Cavaliers leading 48-47. Dellavedova and Horford were fighting for rebounding position when Dellavedova stumbled over Atlanta forward DeMarre Carroll and fell into Horford's leg.
"He went after my legs," Horford said. "If it was on purpose, we don't know. Maybe it wasn't on purpose. But with just his track record, I just felt like it was and, again, on my part, very poor for doing that."
Horford responded by dropping an elbow on Dellavedova, the same player who rolled up Korver's leg in Game 2 while diving for a loose ball. As a result, Korver is lost for the postseason.
Dellavedova disagreed with the idea he is playing dirty.
"I was boxing him out, and you can see from the baseline view that he's pulling my left arm down," Dellavedova said.
After a lengthy review, Dellavedova was given a technical foul and Horford was ejected. Horford finished with 14 points and four rebounds, serving as the Hawks' best offensive weapon to that point.
"He made contact above the shoulders, to the shoulder and head area of Della
Top Game Performances
Jeff Teague 30
LeBron James 37
Jeff Teague 7
LeBron James 13
Paul Millsap 9
LeBron James 18
Paul Millsap 11
||Free Throws Made
LeBron James 8
Kent Bazemore 3
LeBron James 3
Kent Bazemore 1
Timofey Mozgov 2
Team Stats Summary
Cleveland will play their next game at home against Atlanta. The Cavaliers have a W/L % of .731 after a win and .500 after a loss.
Atlanta will play their next game on the road against Cleveland. The Hawks have a W/L % of .754 after a win and .667 after a loss.