Jonesí Game Winner Lifts Cavs Over Raptors
Cleveland 98, Toronto 97
TORONTO, March 8 (Ticker) -- LeBron James found another teammate to trust in the clutch.
James scored 35 points and found Damon Jones in the corner for the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Cleveland Cavaliers escaped with a 98-97 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
"That's twice in the last five or so games that LeBron's made the right decision with the basketball, which is driving it, collapsing the defense and trusting his teammates out on the floor," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "You've got to give it to Damon. He was on that bench for six or seven minutes, if not longer."
With Cleveland facing a four-point deficit, James converted a three-point play to cut the margin to 94-93 with 1:19 left. After an empty possession by the Raptors, James made two foul shots for a 95-94 lead with 37 seconds remaining.
James forced Mike James, who had 30 points, into a deep 3-pointer, but Chris Bosh corralled the rebound and passed to Morris Peterson, who drained a shot from beyond the arc for a 97-95 advantage with just 4.8 seconds to play.
During a timeout, Brown inserted Jones for Murray. LeBron James drove to the basket and lured Mike James into helping on defense, which left Jones alone in the corner.
"LeBron was drawing so much attention and I guess they didn't want him to get all the way to the rim," Jones said. "I was wide open and the clock was running down. I was able to square up and get a good release and it went in."
"That's all it's about, it's a team sport" LeBron James said. "I've got so much trust in my teammates and they come through for me. Even if that shot didn't go down, I'm still making that pass 10 out of 10 times. Damon made a heck of a shot."
Mike James took the blame for the defensive breakdown.
"I take total responsibility for how the game ended," he said. "I gave up the 3-pointer which is something you're not supposed to do especially in that situation."
LeBron James made 13-of-24 shots, grabbed six rebounds and handed out six assists. Murray added 14 points for Cleveland, which shot just 3-of-16 from long range.
Peterson scored 31 points to lead the Raptors, who lost all three contests to the Cavaliers this season for the first time in franchise history. Toronto has lost eight of nine.
"One play doesn't determine the game, even though (Jones) hit a 3-point shot," Peterson said. "There were a lot of us on the team who made mistakes. You just can't point the finger at one person."
"It was a tough loss," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "LeBron made a great play, he found the open guy and Damon Jones hit the shot."
Cleveland fell behind, 28-19, after one period but responded with a 31-point second quarter to open a 50-42 advantage at halftime. Toronto rebounded for a 73-70 lead entering the fourth quarter.