(AP) CHICAGO — LeBron James watched his coach draw up the final play — and then drew one up of his own.
“Give me the ball and get out of the way,” he said.
James overruled Cleveland coach David Blatt’s idea for a last-second inbounds play and drained a jumper from the corner at the buzzer to give the Cavaliers an 86-84 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, evening the Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.
During a stoppage the Cavs only got because the officials were reviewing a play, Blatt designed a play that had James taking the ball out. The four-time NBA MVP has been in enough pressure situations that he vetoed his coach.
“I was supposed to take the ball out,” James said. “I told Coach there was no way I’m taking the ball out unless I could shoot it over the backboard and go in. So I told him, ‘Have somebody else take the ball out.’ The play that was drawn up, I scratched it. I just told Coach, ‘Just give me the ball. We’re either going to go into overtime or I’m going to win it for us.’”
James, playing the final quarter on a sprained left ankle, finished with 25 points to help the Cavaliers win in another wild finish, returning the favor after Chicago took Game 3 on Derrick Rose’s banked 3-pointer at the horn.
This time, James got whistled for an offensive foul when he elbowed Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Rose scored on a driving layup with 9.4 seconds left. Blatt tried to call a timeout but didn’t have one and assistant Tyronn Lue alertly pulled him off the court.
Also on Sunday:
Clippers 128, Rockets 95: LOS ANGELES — DeAndre Jordan scored 26 points, surviving Houston’s intentional-foul fest in the first half, and the Los Angeles Clippers won to take a 3-1 lead and put the Rockets on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference semifinals. Jordan made 14 of 34 free throws, attempting an NBA playoff-record 28 in the first half, and had 17 rebounds. Blake Griffin added 21 points, J.J. Redick had 18 points and Chris Paul finished with 15 points and 12 assists in the Clippers’ second straight blowout win in the best-of-7 series.
CHICAGO (AP) — Derrick Rose wanted to make one thing clear about his winning 3-pointer. He did not call glass.
Rose banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer and scored 30 points Friday night to give the Chicago Bulls a 99-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
”I’m just thankful and grateful that my teammates gave me the ball,” he said. ”They believed in me down the stretch. They kept getting me the ball, kept encouraging me to play the way that I usually play. And no, I did not call glass.”
Cleveland had just tied it on a 3-pointer by J.R. Smith with 10.8 seconds left when Rose came through with the winner off a sideline inbounds play.
The play called for him to get the ball in the corner, but he could not find an opening there. Instead, he took the inbounds from Mike Dunleavy Jr. on the wing and dribbled to his right, past the top of the key. Then, as time expired, he banked in a 26-footer over Tristan Thompson.
That drew a mob from his teammates and a deafening roar from the crowd for a hometown star limited in recent years by injuries to both knees. Rose has played well at times in these playoffs – the first for him since 2012. But he also committed a late turnover and got beaten on a last-second layup in a loss to Milwaukee in Game 4 of the first round.
This, by far, was his biggest shot of the postseason.
”It was huge,” said Jimmy Butler, who scored 20 for Chicago. ”We needed that. That’s what he does.”
Rose buzzer-beater lifts Bulls over Cavs Reuters
Cavaliers vs. Bulls 2015 results: 3 things we learned from Derrick Rose’s buzzer-beater win SB Nation
Rose, Gasol pace Bulls to 99-92 win over Cavs in Game 1 The Associated Press
Bulls-Cavaliers Preview Capsule The Associated Press
NBA playoff results: Cavaliers dominate Game 2, Rockets try to avoid 0-2 hole SB Nation
LeBron James, who scored 27 for Cleveland despite shooting 8 of 25, said there was nothing Thompson could do about that shot.
”You follow the game plan, they make a shot – you live with it,” he said. ”It’s when you make mistakes during the game plan, those would be the ones that are hard to live with. I know it’s easy for me to say that. The shot was not made on me. The guy took a tough shot. Tip your hat to him.”
James passed Tony Parker, Steve Nash and Larry Bird for fourth on the career playoff assists list. He had 14 in the game, giving him 1,073.
Chicago never won more than one game in three previous playoff series against teams led by James. But the Bulls have a chance to take a commanding lead with Game 4 at home on Sunday.
Smith, back from a two-game suspension, scored 14 points. Kyrie Irving, playing with a sore foot that started bothering him in the first round against Boston, had just 11 points and no assists. He shot 3 of 13 and the only baskets he made were on 3-pointers.
Rose and Butler combined to score 23 of Chicago’s 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Dunleavy finished the game with 16 points, and Nikola Mirotic scored 12 after playing sparingly the first two games. The Bulls also outrebounded Cleveland 54-39, outscored them 44-28 in the paint and had 18 second-chance points compared to seven for the Cavaliers.
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers are being criticized on social networks for playing a video during Wednesday night’s playoff game that showed a man throwing a woman across a room for wearing a Bulls T-shirt.
CHICAGO (AP) — Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias was not in the starting lineup for the series finale against the Chicago White Sox because of a mild groin injury.