LeBron James was on the court for 2,520 seconds on Wednesday night, but none of them were more important than the final three.
During that time, the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar had his only block of the game — preventing Victor Oladipo from giving the Indiana Pacers a two-point lead with three seconds remaining — and his only successful three-point shot of the night, which came at the buzzer.
That turn of events gave the Cavaliers a 98-95 victory and a 3-2 playoff series lead, with the chance to close it out Friday night in Indianapolis.
The NBA, though, said a review of the blocked shot was actually goaltending because it came after the ball made contact with the backboard. The play under NBA rules could not be reviewed because no call was made by a referee.
The game-winning shot set off a wild celebration at Quicken Loans Arena, where James jumped onto the scorer’s table to enjoy the moment with fans.
“As a kid, you always have those 3, 2, 1 moments, and that’s what it kind of felt like,” James said of his game-winning shot. “I felt like I was a kid all over again playing basketball at my house on makeshift hoops and [using] my socks as a basketball.”
Added Cavaliers forward Kevin Love: “I’ve seen him shoot that shot in practice, going to his left and rising without a pump fake. He was in a good rhythm, and he hit an amazing shot. It was unbelievable.”
That play was set up by James’ huge block at the other end, which Oladipo said after the game should have been ruled a goaltending violation.
“I got a step on him. I felt like I even got grabbed on the way to the rim. Tried to shoot a layup, it hit the backboard, then he blocked it. It was a goal tend,” Oladipo said. “It’s hard to even speak on it. It just sucks, honestly. It really sucks.”
James laughed when asked about the block after the game.
“Of course I didn’t think it was a goal tend,” he said. “I try to make plays like that all the time, and I mean, he made a heck of a move, got me leaning right and he went left and I just tried to use my recovery speed and get back up there and make a play on the ball. And I was able to make a play.”
And then, after an inbound pass from Jeff Green, James made another one.
“You have the best player in the world on your team, and if you get the ball to him, you know he’s capable of delivering,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Jeff got it to him, and Bron to his sweet spot, and knocked it down.”
3:25 p.m.: This article has been updated with the NBA reporting that the blocked shot by LeBron James in the final seconds was a goaltending violation.
This article was originally published at 8:25 a.m.