LeBron James Hits Buzzer-Beater in OT to Give Cavs Huge Win Over Timberwolves

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2018

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, left, drives against Minnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The Cleveland Cavaliers finally won a nationally televised game Wednesday.

LeBron James had a 37-point triple-double, including a game-winning shot as time expired, to lead the Cavs to a thrilling 140-138 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Cleveland entered Wednesday having lost each of its last eight games broadcast on national television, including a 120-88 home loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday that started its most embarrassing two-game stretch of the season. The Cavs followed that up by blowing a 21-point lead and being outscored 63-33 in the second half of their 116-98 loss to the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

James was sensational down the stretch, tying the game with a layup with 24 seconds remaining in overtime before blocking a potential go-ahead basket by Jimmy Butler on the Wolves' final possession. Jeff Green then found James with one second remaining, and he hit a fadeaway from 18 feet as time expired.

“I knew he was gonna block it so I just put it up there for him to throw my s--t into the stands," Butler told reporters after the game.

The two teams traded baskets down the stretch in regulation, with Karl-Anthony Towns knocking down a 32-foot three-pointer and James answering nine seconds later with one of his own. Butler and James both had chances to put their teams ahead in the waning seconds, but the latter missed a would-be game-winning three-point shot as time expired.

James finished the game with 37 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds for his ninth triple-double of the season. Only Russell Westbrook (16) has more.

"I'm here for this season right now, [to] try to figure out ways we can still compete," James told reporters before the game amid the turmoil. "I couldn't give up on my teammates like that. I couldn't do that. I just couldn't do it. We put too much into the game every single day. We go out and prepare. Win, lose or draw, at the end of the day, we're all brothers, and we understand that. I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause."

While the Cavs remain a mess defensively—the two teams combined for an NBA-record 40 threes—James' teammates came through on offense.

A glaring minus on both ends for much of the year, JR Smith finished with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting, which is just the second time he's hit the 20-point mark this season. He scored 17 points in the first half, knocking down five threes to help James keep the Cavs in the game

Tristan Thompson (17 points), Isaiah Thomas (13 points, seven assists) and Jae Crowder (10 points) each joined them in double figures. Kyle Korver added 14 points and Green had 13 off the bench.

Thomas, who has been the source of near-constant criticism since his return from a hip injury, once again made comments before the game that drew ire.

"Collectively, as a group, we got to do better," Thomas told reporters. "It's not just about me. We got to do better. We got to adjust throughout the game. They made adjustments and it worked and we just kept getting hit with the same thing and we made no adjustments. And that's been one of our biggest problems all year, is adjusting."

The Wolves, who entered Wednesday winners of two straight, received a team-high 35 points from Butler and a 30-point, 10-rebound performance from Towns. Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points, and Jeff Teague threw together a 14-point, 15-assist evening.

Minnesota now heads to Chicago to take on the Bulls on Friday. The Cavs visit the Atlanta Hawks that same night.


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