LeBron's buzzer beater lifts Cavs over Bulls
By TAYLOR ROSEN
College Contributor Network
We all knew there was hype heading into this Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown between the two powerhouses in the conference, but I don't think anybody expected the jaw-dropping drama we witnessed over the weekend in the Cleveland-Chicago series.
It started on Friday night, when both teams battled to the final possession of Game 3. The Bulls found Derrick Rose in the final seconds, and he delivered. Rose banked in a contested fall-away three at the buzzer over Tristan Thompson to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead in the series.
The Cavaliers responded in a big way on Sunday afternoon to even up the series at two games a piece. In what was a sloppy game for the Cavs for the most part, they ended up digging deep in the end to win this one. LeBron James rolled his ankle in the third quarter, but being the leader of the team, he knew he had no choice but to stay in the game, and on this day it paid off for James, and the Cavs.
James did struggle in this game, he shot 10-of-30 from the field, and committed eight turnovers. He finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, and a game-winning, step-back jumper over Jimmy Butler at the buzzer. Cavs fans couldn't have scripted a better way to tie the series up at two heading back to Cleveland for Game 5 on Tuesday night. James, and the Cavaliers virtually sucked the life out of the United Center after stealing Game 4.
Kyrie Irving played through a sprained right foot for the second consecutive game, and it's continuing to have a negative impact on his game. Irving finished the game 2-of-10 and had 12 points and two assists. Timofey Mozgov chipped in 15 points and nine rebounds, and J.R. Smith caught fire from deep to help the Cavaliers regain the lead in the fourth quarter. Smith scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth.
Rose had another big game. He scored 31 points, grabbed two rebounds, and had four assists. Jimmy Butler followed with 19 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Rose and Butler were the only two players who scored in double-figures for the Bulls on Sunday afternoon. Pau Gasol did not play in Game 4 after suffering a strained left hamstring in Game 3. It is still to be determined if he will play in Game 5.
I know some say they don't believe in momentum from game to game in the basketball, but I certainly believe all of the momentum is on the Cavaliers' side heading home for game 5, on Tuesday night. If Pau Gasol is unable to go again, that would make it much more difficult on Rose and Butler to carry the load on the road in front of a roaring sold out crowd in attendance at Quicken Loans Arena.
But who knows? I'll be the first to tell you watching this game on Sunday, I didn't expect the Cavaliers to win in the end, but they never gave up, and they found that way to win. Even with James and Irving both having poor games, and David Blatt almost blowing it down the stretch when signaling for a timeout on the last play of the game when both teams were out of timeouts. The Cavaliers still found a way to win, and that's just what championship caliber teams do.
It definitely doesn't hurt to have the best player on the planet on your team, and someone you can give the ball to with the game on the line, and trust they will come through. That's how it unfolded on Sunday afternoon in Chicago, and it will be fascinating to see what takes place at the Q in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Taylor Rosen is a junior at Kent State University. He spent time with The Stater covering Kent State football and basketball. Taylor is from Cleveland, and has Cleveland sports under a microscope. Follow him on Twitter: @T_Rosen11