The entire 48 minutes of NBA basketball played at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Brooklyn Nets won’t go down as the prettiest game of the season, but the final seconds were oh so sweet for the wine and gold. LeBron James would knock down a right handed hook shot from the right side of the lane with one second left to give the Cavaliers a 90-88 win over the Nets.
James finished with 26 points to tie Kevin Love for the game high in points. James’ game winner was made possible after J.R. Smith would foul Nets guard Joe Johnson on a three point shot attempt with the Cavaliers leading 88-85 with 16 seconds remaining. Johnson would knock down all three free throws to tie the game. The Cavaliers called a time out to set up the winning play. Head coach David Blatt made it quite clear what the plan was..
“Yeah, just the way I drew it up,” Blatt said. “Yep. Give it to No. 23.”
“Obviously, I want the ball in my hands down the stretch,” James said. “I feel like I can make something happen for not only myself but for our team. I’m happy I was able to come through for us.”
LeBron’s game winning hook shot improves the Cavaliers record to 13-4 on the season and a perfect 9-0 at home. Cleveland has now won five of their last six games.
Cleveland really struggled coming off a road win in Charlotte on Friday night. The Cavaliers didn’t take their first lead of the game until Love knocked down one of his six made three pointers on the night to give Cleveland a 61-60 lead midway through the third quarter. Love scored 12 of his 26 in the third quarter, all 12 points coming from behind the three point line.
Both teams would go back and forth in turning the basketball over and taking the lead back the rest of the way before James knocked down the winning basket. The 3-13 Nets had one last chance to steal a win on the road, but with no time outs remaining, Brooklyn had to settle for a three quarter court heave by Jarrett Jack that would hit the rim and the backboard but was no good. Saturday night adds to list of game winning shots LeBron has made during his two stints as the leader of the wine and gold.
“I’ve made layups, I’ve made pull-ups, obviously I’ve made step-back jumpers,” James said. “I might go for the sky hook next time. “I got to my spot where I wanted to. I work on those shots. I work on my game a lot. Actually sometimes it’s a little easier when you get someone bigger because you have to get it over the top of them and you just float it right over the top of them.”
Mo Williams and Tristan Thompson were the only other Cavaliers to score in double figures. Williams had 14 points. Thompson had a double double off the bench with ten points and eleven rebounds.
Four of the five Nets starters scored in double figures. Brook Lopez lead Brooklyn with 22 points, but was held to just six points in the second half. Johnson scored 17 points. Thaddeus Young added 16 points and Jack finished with 12 points.