10:30 PM ET, January 23, 2009
ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA
LeBron rebounds from missed free throws to crush Warriors at buzzer
OAKLAND, Calif. -- LeBron James tossed up a rare airball from the top of the 3-point arc that showed he's human. Then he quickly returned to his typical self.
• LeBron James has scored more than 30 points in 18 games this season and the Cavs are 15-3 in those games.
• Golden State has scored more than 100 points in 34 games this season, but has the worst defense in the NBA, giving up 112.2 ppg going in to Friday's game.
• Cleveland has won five of its last six games against Golden State and 13 of its 15 games vs. Western conference teams.
-- ESPN research
James stepped back under pressure from Ronny Turiaf and knocked down a 19-footer to barely beat the final buzzer, lifting the Cleveland Cavaliers to a wild 106-105 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
"It's a great feeling, especially when you get it like that and then you hear the horn and the shot goes in and there's no way they can try to make a comeback at us," James said. "I wish everyone could get that type of feeling. It's unbelievable."
James finished with 32 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocked shots, but also missed three second-half free throws and went 10-for-16 from the line. His teammates jumped up and down in delight when the ball went through, then the officials gathered to review the play before ruling his shot beat the buzzer.
Stephen Jackson hit a go-ahead 22-foot jumper over James with 6.4 seconds left and finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for Golden State. The Warriors also lost at the buzzer Wednesday night against Oklahoma City.
Stephen Jackson's go-ahead jumper with 6.4 seconds left was not enough after LeBron James knocked down a buzzer beater to win the game.
Golden State's Monta Ellis scored 20 points in his season debut and return from an ankle injury. He did his best to upstage LeBron, but to no avail.
"That's not the first time he's hit a buzzer-beater to hurt people at their own place," Jackson said. "That's what he does. That's why he's one of the best in the league."
The game featured 27 lead changes and 15 ties -- 10 lead changes alone in the fourth quarter.
Ellis made a powerful one-handed dunk with 6:54 left put Golden State ahead and showed he indeed is healthy after a left ankle injury had sidelined him so far. Ellis' basket with 1:51 to go made it 97-96, then Daniel Gibson hit a 3-pointer on the other end. Ellis then converted a pair of free throws at 1:17 to tie it at 99.
James followed by missing a layup and Jackson made two free throws at 1:04. Mo Williams hit a baseline 3 with 51.2 seconds left, only to see Jackson answer.
"That guy there, No. 23, LeBron ... it is what it is," Williams said. "He's a great player and he makes great plays."
Corey Maggette had 23 points, eight rebounds and made all 11 of his free throws, and Anthony Morrow added 19 points for Golden State, which isn't expected to see former star Baron Davis make his Bay Area comeback with the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday because of a bruised tailbone.
Ellis hurt his ankle five months ago in a motorized scooter accident. The explosive guard, who received a six-year, $66 million contract extension earlier in July, was suspended by the Warriors for 30 games without pay.
He received a warm welcome from the sellout crowd of 19,596 before the game, then the fans roared when he hit a 12-foot fadeaway and was fouled with 7:10 left in the first quarter and again on his driving layin at the 4:22 mark.
He hit a 27-foot 3-pointer as the third-quarter buzzer sounded, pulling Golden State within 84-81 heading into the final 12 minutes.
"It felt great. It went down to the end and great players make great shots at the end of the game," Ellis said. "I didn't expect anything. ... Being out so long part of my game's still rusty."
Ellis wasn't interested in setting the record straight about his summer escapade.
"That's behind me," he said. "I don't even remember."
The 23-year-old Ellis, selected out of high school in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft, averaged career bests of 20.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.53 steals in 37.9 minutes and 81 games last season. He was named the NBA's Most Improved Player after the 2006-07 campaign.
Coach Don Nelson referred to Ellis as the "Messiah" earlier in the day.
"We're playing a really good team. We're going to throw him back into the mix, we're not working him back into the mix," Nelson said.
Golden State missed leading scorer Jamal Crawford, who bruised his right hamstring in Wednesday's 122-121 loss to the Thunder. Starting center Andris Biedrins, meanwhile, was back after sitting out against the Thunder with a sprained left wrist and grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots.
Williams missed his first seven shots before finally hitting at the 8:33 mark of the third quarter for Cleveland in its sixth win in eight games. At 33-8, the Cavs took over the Eastern Conference lead, percentage points ahead of Boston (36-9).
Cleveland was late arriving to the East Bay from San Francisco because of slow Friday commuter traffic in the rain. That didn't seem to affect James, who already had seven points, three rebounds and two assists just four minutes into the game.
James, who scored 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting in the teams' first matchup back on Nov. 28, won 112-97 at home by the Cavs, missed three straight free throws during one sequence in the third quarter.
The Cavs got 40 points from their bench, nine or more by four different players. ... Cleveland is 7-2 on the road against the Western Conference. ... Warriors starting F Anthony Randolph sat out the game with the flu. ... Golden State is still without F Brandan Wright (partially dislocated left shoulder) and G Marco Belinelli (sprained and bruised right ankle). Wright is still 2-to-4 weeks away, while Belinelli likely is a week or two from returning. ... The Warriors sold out for the fifth time this season. ... Ellis has scored in double digits in 49 straight games dating to last season.