LeBron James saves Cavs with game-winning, buzzer-beating 3 to put Pacers on brink

With the pivotal Game 5 of the first-round series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers hanging in the balance in the closing seconds, LeBron James did what he’s been doing for 15 years: took over, saved the day, and delivered his team a desperately needed victory.

James hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Thaddeus Young, providing a thrilling ending to a heartstopping fourth quarter and giving the Cavaliers a 98-95 win over the visiting Pacers to take their first lead in the best-of-seven series at 3-2. The Cavs will now look to close out the stunned Pacers back in Indianapolis in Game 6 on Friday night.

Asked by TNT’s Allie LaForce what he told his teammates in the huddle before the Cavs’ final possession, James recalled a simple message.

“Just give me the ball,” he said. “Give me the ball. They had a foul to give, so I wanted to go quick so they couldn’t give up that foul, because we had no more timeouts. So I was able to turn and get to my spot.”

29 PHOTOS
LeBron James through the years
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LeBron James through the years
File photo of high school basketball star LeBron James getting set for a foul shot during the annual Jordan Capital Classic high school all-star game in Washington, April 17, 2003. James will hold a press conference at his high shool in Akron, Ohio April 25, 2003, where he is expected to state his intentions concerning the upcoming NBA draft. James is expected to be the number one pick should he make himself available for the draft. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn-Files GMH/HB
Lebron James announces his entrance into the NBA draft, during a press conference at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, April 25, 2003. The six-foot-eight James, 18, is expected by many to be the number one selection in the draft on June 26. REUTERS/Jason Cohn JC/HB
LeBron James (R) shakes hands with National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York, June 26, 2003. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton PM
Cleveland Cavaliers first draft pick LeBron James speaks with reporters following a picture session at Gund Arena, in Cleveland, October 2, 2003. REUTERS/Ron Kuntz RK/ME
Cleveland Cavalier rookie forward LeBron James (23) shoots over New Orleans Hornets defenders Baron Davis (1) and David Wesley (4), in the fourth period of NBA action in Cleveland, Ohio, December 23, 2003. James 22 points was the high scorer for the Cavaliers who defeated the Hornets 97-86. REUTERS/Marc Serota MS
Paul Pierce (R) of the Boston Celtics and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers chat while the scoreboard is fixed during the fourth quarter of their game at Gund Arena, February 9, 2004. The Cavaliers won, 97-89. REUTERS/Ron Kuntz RK
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (C) gets a layup as Seattle Supersonics forward Rashad Lewis (L) and Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki look on, during the first half of the 54th NBA All-Star Game in Denver, February 20, 2005. REUTERS/John Gress JM
Eastern Conference forward LeBron James holds the Most Valuable Player trophy at the 55th NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas February 19, 2006. The East defeated the Western Conference 122-120. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James questions a call during their NBA playoff game against the Washington Wizards in Washington May 5, 2006 Cleveland defeated Washington, 114-113, to advance in the NBA playoffs. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Forward LeBron James, of the Cleveland Cavaliers, works on his jump shot at morning practice during the first day of training camp for the USA men's basketball team in Las Vegas July 19, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots over New York Knicks forward Quentin Richardson (L) and guard Stephon Marbury (R) in the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball game in New York's Madison Square Garden, November 13, 2006. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James is seen on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, California, February 15, 2007. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James goes through his pregame powder ritual prior to the start of Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first round NBA playoff basketball game in Cleveland, Ohio April 25, 2007. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James answers media questions before practice for their NBA Finals basketball series against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Texas, June 8, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James (L) celebrates after dunking against the New Orleans Hornets David West during the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Louisiana February 17, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James (L) is guarded by Chicago Bulls Thabo Sefolosha (R) during the first quarter of their NBA basketball game in Cleveland, April 3, 2008. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James drives to the basket during the third quarter of their NBA basketball game in Cleveland January 9, 2009. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James sits with his girlfriend Savana Brinson and son Bryce Maximus during the Rookie Challenge at the NBA All-Star basketball weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, February 13, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James speaks after being named the NBA Most Valuable Player during a ceremony at his alma mater St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio May 4, 2009. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James celebrates after Mario Chalmers scored a three pointer against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, December 25, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) stands with Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade during Game 5 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Dallas, June 9, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James watches a shot against the Dallas Mavericks through the net during the second half in Game 2 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Miami, June 2, 2011. REUTERS/David J. Phillip/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James dunks against the Washington Wizards in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida December 15, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James speaks at a press conference after his team defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami, Florida June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Dec 19, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) makes a pass against the Brooklyn Nets during the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James wears an " I Can't Breathe" t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn, New York, December 8, 2014. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
June 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James speaks to media following the 104-91 loss against the Golden State Warriors in game five of the NBA Finals. at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates with the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after beating the Golden State Warriors in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 21: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers pauses on the court during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at Quicken Loans Arena on January 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Spurs defeated the Cavaliers 118-115. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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If the sequence felt familiar to you … well, you’re not alone.

“It was like deja vu for a regular-season game we had versus Minnesota, where I got a block on the other end and then the game-winner,” James said.

Then again, maybe you’re thinking of that time James did nearly this exact same thing in the playoffs, just about nine years ago.

It was a brilliant end to another brilliant evening for James, who’s been essentially the only reliable source of offense Cleveland’s been able to muster in this series. He lived at the rim all night long, bulldozing his way to the paint time and again en route to 44 points on 14-for-24 shooting from the field and a perfect 15-for-15 mark at the foul line, to go with 10 rebounds, eight assists, a block and a steal in 42 minutes of work.

Veteran sniper Kyle Korver continued to be James’ primary running buddy, scoring 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting (5-for-9 from 3-point range) with six rebounds in the win, which saw the Cavs prevail despite shooting just 41.3 percent from the field as a team.

As has been the case throughout the series, that the Cavs needed this kind of performance and this kind of late-game heroism from James this early in the postseason doesn’t seem to bode well for Cleveland’s chances of making a fourth straight NBA Finals. Still, this result’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative, and with the East feeling as shaky and open as it’s been in years, being the only team that employs LeBron Freaking James still just might give you a leg up on everyone else.

16 PHOTOS
The best photos from the first round of the NBA playoffs
See Gallery
The best photos from the first round of the NBA playoffs
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 15: JR Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Cory Joseph #6 of the Indiana Pacers drive for a ball during the first half in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 15, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 14: C.J. Miles #0 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates after making a three-pointer as rap artist Drake celebrates on the sideline against the Washington Wizards in the first quarter during Game One of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre on April 14, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 15: Jeff Teague #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves goes up for a shot defended by Clint Capela #15 of the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul #3 in the second half during Game One of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on April 15, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: Terry Rozier #12 of the Boston Celtics celebrates with Jayson Tatum #0 after hitting a three point shot during the fourth quarter of Game One of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks during at TD Garden on April 15, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Apr 14, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washngton Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) dunks for a basket against Toronto Raptors in game one of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: Milwaukee Bucks Tony Snell, left, gets rid of the ball in front of the Boston Celtics Greg Monroe, right, in first half action in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NBA Playoffs at the TD Garden in Boston on April 17, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Apr 19, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Davis Bertans (left) and Golden State Warriors power forward David West (3) battle for a rebound in game three of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Apr 19, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) warms up prior to game three of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heatat American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Apr 19, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) dunks over Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu (8) during the second quarter in game three of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Apr 19, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) dives for the loose ball Golden State Warriors small forward Kevon Looney (left) in game three of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SAN ANTONIO,TX - APRIL 22 : Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs drives on Quinn Cook #4 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half of Game Four of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 22 , 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Apr 19, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) warms up prior to game three of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heatat American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 20: Myles Turner #33 and Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Indiana Pacers celebrate at the end of game three of the NBA Playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 20, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Pacers won 92-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 21: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz go for the ball in the second half during Game Three of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 21, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Jazz beat the Thunder 115-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 24: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics competes for a loose ball against Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks and Thon Maker #7 during the fourth quarter in Game Five in Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 24, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Bucks 92-87. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers is showered with water while being interviewed after a 98-95 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 25, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!

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