CLEVELAND — For a team that seemed to be falling apart heading into Wednesday’s game, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers did a nice job of coming together when it mattered most in a 140-138 overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
As usual, it was James who saved the day, making a block on Jimmy Butler in the waning seconds, then hitting a jumper over Butler at the buzzer to win it.
James paced the Cavs all night, going off for his ninth triple-double of the season with 37 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, while J.R. Smith provided a much-needed 20 points, setting an early tone for a Cavs team that was embarrassed in a Tuesday night loss to the Orlando Magic.
Neither the Timberwolves nor the Cavs had much interest in playing defense Wednesday, as both teams seemingly got any shot it wanted. They set an NBA record with a combined 40 3-pointers (on 74 attempts), but James and the Cavs did just enough in the final minute to secure the win.
The Cavs needed this win in a bad way given how the last month has unfolded. They came into the game having lost 13 out of 19 since Christmas Day and repeatedly have found themselves in the headlines amid talk of unrest behind the scenes. As always in the NBA, the only real cure for quieting negative noise over the course of a long season is finding ways to win. Whether this victory helps get the Cavs back on track remains to be seen, but James offered yet another reminder on just how dominant he can be when he wants to take over a game and pull his team across the finish line.
LeBron James goes in depth on his block on Jimmy Butler and his game-winning shot in OT and why the Cavaliers were able to buck the trend of losing on national television.
After James hit the winner, the sellout crowd at Quicken Loans Arena went crazy as LeBron happily waved his arms in celebration. The finish capped a frenetic offensive night for both teams. The Cavs also can take heart in the fact that their bench outscored the Timberwolves’ bench 43-31, providing a solid lift in a game in which James played 48 minutes.
James’ fifth career buzzer-beater (including playoffs) spoiled Butler’s huge night as he scored 35 points, dished out six assists and grabbed five rebounds. Karl-Anthony Towns also had a big night with 30 points (6-for-6 from deep) and 10 rebounds.
The Timberwolves hope to bounce back quickly as they take on a Chicago Bulls team that has lost seven in a row on Friday. It will mark the first time former Bulls Butler and Taj Gibson will face off against their former team at the United Center.
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