CLEVELAND, May 3 (Ticker) -- LeBron James
' legend continues to grow.
James sliced his way along the baseline for a layup with
nine-tenths of a second remaining in overtime to give the
Cleveland Cavaliers a heart-stopping 121-120 victory over the
Washington Wizards and a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference
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In what already had been a scintillating battle through the
first four games between James and Washington's Gilbert Arenas
with each averaging over 30 points, the duo authored up a game
for the ages Wednesday.
"A great player made a great move," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan
said. "It was a terrific battle, terrific game and I hope we
match that same type of energy and same type of execution
coming back home."
James scored 45 points while Arenas finished with 44. It marked
the first time two players surpassed 40 points in a playoff
game since Allen Iverson
and Shaquille O'Neal
in Game One of the
2001 NBA Finals.
But it was James - the 21-year-old phenom who is in the
postseason for the first time in career - who made the shot
that forever will go down in playoff lore.
After Arenas converted two pressure free throws with 3.6 seconds
left to give the Wizards a 120-119 lead, the Cavs called a
timeout to set up the final play.
"I hit both free throws and I told everybody to calm down in the
huddle," Arenas said. "It's not over, there's three seconds
left. We've been in this situation before where we lost game
James received the inbounds pass from Larry Hughes
left baseline, somehow found enough room as he tiptoed his way
to the basket, where he sliced to the middle and put up a
right-handed shot over the 6-8 Michael Ruffin
"I saw Antawn Jamison
closing out hard," James said. "I had
enough room on that baseline, if I wore like an 18 or 19 shoe, I
wouldn't have made it. But I wear a 16 and I was able to
tight-rope it and get a layup."
"Even though (Washington) ran three guys at him, (James)
found a way to get to the rim and score the basket,"
Cleveland coach Mike Brown
The winning shot was the only one attempted in overtime by
James, who scored six points in the extra session. The
superstar scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and finished
14-of-23 from the field overall.
"I was the only person on the back side, said Arenas,
reflecting on James' game-winner. "Six-eight (vs.)
six-three, he jumped, I couldn't block it."
"I think (James) made something out of nothing, which great
players do," Jordan said.
Taking his game to the level of another No. 23 before him -
Michael Jordan - James' postseason has been nothing short of
James recorded a triple-double in Game 1 and scored 41 points
in Game 3 - an NBA record for most points in a road
Perhaps stunned, the Wizards opted not to call one of their
remaining two timeouts and Arenas missed a 57-foot heave as time
expired, bringing an end to one of the best playoff games in
Overshadowed by James, Arenas made 14-of-24 shots and all 10 of
his free throws in his best game of the series.
It did not even look as though James and Arenas would have a
chance to continue their show into overtime.
James sank two free throws with 78 seconds left in regulation,
giving the Cavaliers a 107-100 lead. But the Wizards battled
back by scoring seven straight points.
converted a three-point play, Caron Butler
scored inside and again on a layup off a turnover by James with
7.5 seconds left to tie it.
James had a chance to win it but missed a tough jumper as time
expired in regulation.
"It would have been devastating (if we had lost)," James said.
"Being up seven or eight points with a minute and a half, we got
soft. We let them get layup after layup."
scored 24 points and Eric Snow
18 - including his
team's first six in overtime - for Cleveland, which could close
the series at Washington in Game 6 on Friday.
"(Snow) is a pro's pro and his grittiness is something we need
on the floor and that's why he is playing big minutes for us,"
Antawn Jamison and Butler did their best to help the Wizards
steal one on the road. Jamison scored 32 points and Butler had
15 of his 20 after the third quarter.
A key point in the game came with 6:53 left in the third quarter
when James picked up his fourth foul and Arenas sank two free
throws to give Washington a 64-63 lead.
James sat the rest of the quarter, but the Cavaliers managed to
take an 85-81 lead into the fourth period. Ronald Murray
scored 10 points in the quarter.
"There was a pivotal point in the game when LeBron picked up his
fourth foul, but the guys on the floor held serve and gave us
the opportunity to win the game at the end," Brown said.