Cavaliers
Bulls
112 - 108 Final - OT
  for this game

James rallies Cavs to OT win over Bulls

Mar 31, 2007 - 11:58 PM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- LeBron James refused to allow the Cleveland Cavaliers to fall out of second place in the Eastern Conference.

The superstar forward converted a three-point play with 42 seconds left in overtime and a bank shot in the lane with 20 seconds remaining to lead the Cavaliers to a 112-108 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The win enabled the Cavaliers (44-29) to increase their lead to 1 1/2 games over the Bulls (43-31).

"It was a big win because of the way we won it," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "The Bulls are a good ballclub and they had won four in a row. Plus I think they have the best home record in the East."

"This was a playoff type game, we knew it and they knew it," James added. "We showed a lot of mental toughness to get the job done."

It appeared Chicago was on the verge of overtaking the Cavaliers for second place in the conference when they held a 108-104 lead in the final minute of overtime. But James didn't let it happen.

After Ben Wallace made a pair of free throws for the Bulls, James drove the right side of the lane and banked in a shot while he was fouled by Kirk Hinrich. James, who finished with 39 points, then converted the free throw to pull the Cavs within 108-107.

"I can't fault our effort from a physical standpoint," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "There were some mental situations out there where our focus was not what it needed to be in a game like this. However, we still had chances to win."

Ben Gordon, who is known for making clutch shots and finished with 37 points, missed an 11-footer with 28 seconds left. James didn't blow his opportunity to give Cleveland the lead, driving hard to his left and banking in an eight-footer with 20 seconds remaining.

Gordon then missed another jumper, got the ball back on a rebound which was tapped back out and threw a pass that was picked off by Drew Gooden.

"We decided to blitz Gordon coming down the stretch," Brown said. "Gooden did a great job defensively, he anticipated a pass and intercepted it which turned out big for us."

"The last play when I got the steal we just trapped Gordon toward the sidelines," Gooden added. I just anticipated the pass and jumped the lane."

The Bulls immediately fouled Larry Hughes, who split his free throws to give Cleveland a 110-108 advantage with nine seconds left.

"They double teamed me," Gordon said. "I tried to string things out and get the ball to a teammate and it didn't work out. We played hard and just came up short."

Gordon missed a potential game-winning 3-point attempt with one second remaining before Hughes was fouled and made two free throws to seal the win.

"We want to get home court through out the playoffs, and if not, at least the first few rounds," James said. "We need to keep doing what we are doing now and that is winning basketball games."

Gordon hit a free throw with 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game, 100-100, after the Cavaliers were nailed with a defensive three-second call.

Chicago had a four-game winning streak stopped. "This game was about as big as it gets for the regular season," Hinrich said. "All we can do is bounce back tomorrow in Atlanta and win."

James made 14-of-25 shots, Sasha Pavlovic scored 21 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 14 for Cleveland, which shot 48 percent (40-of-84).

Rookie Tyrus Thomas had a season-high 27 points off the bench and Hinrich posted his ninth double-double with 22 points and 11 assists for Chicago, which split four games with Cleveland this season. "I feel good about I did," Thomas said. In the end though all that matters is a W and we didn't get that."








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    CLEVELAND 112
    CHICAGO 108 FINAL IN 1ST OT

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