LeBron’s buzzer heroics hand Cavs big win

LeBron James dropped a 3-pointer at the buzzer, a crowning moment for another one of his brilliant performances, to give Cleveland a 98-95 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night in Game 5, putting the Cavaliers within one victory of advancing in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Moments after blocking Victor Oladipo’s possible go-ahead layup — a play the Pacers felt was goaltending — James caught the inbounds pass, took two dribbles and hit his winner over Thaddeus Young.

As Cleveland’s sellout crowd exploded, James hugged rookie teammate Cedi Osman before jumping on the scorer’s table to celebrate another of those moments that will define his career.

“He does it at both ends every single night,” Cavs forward Kevin Love said. “That’s why he’s the best player in the world.”

James finished with 44 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and went 15 of 15 from the line.

“He really did impose his will throughout the game,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said.

Kyle Korver added 19 points and Cleveland’s much-maligned defense tightened just in time as the Cavaliers seized their first lead in the first-round series after being down 1-0 and 2-1.

Cleveland can close out Indiana with a win Friday night in Indianapolis.

DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points, Kyle Lowry had 17 points and 10 assists as the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 108-98 on in Game 5 of the first-round series.

Toronto rebounded after losing Games 3 and 4 in Washington to take a 3-2 series lead back to Washington for Game 6 on Friday night.

The only team in the NBA to avoid a three-game losing streak this season, the Raptors went 5-0 following back-to-back losses during the regular season, and have not lost three straight since last year’s second-round sweep against Cleveland. The last time Toronto lost three regular season games in a row was from Feb 8 to 14, 2017.

Delon Wright scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 13 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 5-0 in home Game 5s over the past five years.

John Wall had 26 points, and Bradley Beal added 20 for the Wizards. They went nearly four minutes without scoring down the stretch. Marcin Gortat had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Russell Westbrook scored 45 points as Oklahoma City rallied from 25 points down in the second half to fight off elimination and beat Utah 107-99.

Westbrook also had 15 rebounds and seven assists. Paul George added 34 points and eight rebounds.

Utah takes a 3-2 lead back to Salt Lake City for Game 6 on Friday.

Oklahoma City took advantage after Utah’s post players, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, got into foul trouble. Both finished with five fouls, and Oklahoma City was able to get to the basket consistently for the first time in the series.

Jae Crowder had a career playoff-high 27 points for Utah. Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points, and Joe Ingles added 16.

Clint Capela had 26 points and 15 rebounds, James Harden added 24 points as Houston pulled away in the third quarter to finish off Minnesota in five games.

Houston will await the winner of the Utah-Oklahoma City series. The top-seeded Rockets are headed to the second round for the second year in a row after taking care of the eighth-seeded Timberwolves 122-104.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford added 20 points. Minnesota was in the postseason for the first time since 2004.

All the scores from Wednesday’s NBA playoff games:
Toronto Raptors 108-98 Washington Wizards (Raptors lead series 3-2)
Cleveland Cavaliers 98-95 Indiana Pacers (Cleveland lead series 3-2)
Oklahoma City Thunder 107-99 Utah Jazz (Jazz lead series 3-2)
Houston Rockets 122-104 Minnesota Timberwolves (Houston wins series 4-1)

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