MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James caught the inbounds pass, changed direction and immediately attacked the rim.
There was no one in his way.
There was no stopping him, either.
James made a layup as time expired in overtime, capping a 30-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist effort as the Miami Heat found a way to outlast the Indiana Pacers 103-102 in a wildly back-and-forth Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night. There were 18 ties and 17 lead changes, the last two of those coming in the final 2.2 seconds.
“Two teams fought hard,” James said. “We were able to make one more play.”
If this is how this series is going to go, then get ready for a classic between teams that absolutely wanted to face the other with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.
Paul George saved the Pacers at the end of regulation with a 32-footer with 0.7 seconds left, and then made three free throws with 2.2 ticks left in overtime to give Indiana a one-point lead. George pumped his fist gently after the third free throw, then extended his index finger skyward as the teams retreated to their benches to get ready for the final play.
He just left James too much time, and the Pacers left their best shot-blocking option on the bench. Roy Hibbert wasn’t on the floor for the final play, and without a 7-foot-2 barrier to contest him, James made the winner look easy.
“Two great teams just throwing punch for punch,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “Our spirit is very high, very confident. We know we can play with this basketball team.”
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NBA draft order set, so who goes No. 1?
The Cleveland Cavaliers are on top of the NBA draft yet again, only this time there is no LeBron James waiting to save them. There may not even be a Kyrie Irving.
The first big NBA draft question was answered Tuesday night when the Cavaliers won the lottery for the second time in three years. But there are still plenty of questions left with a draft that many talent evaluators believe lacks the star power of previous years. And they start right at the top.
There is no consensus No. 1 selection. Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel may come the closest, but he is recovering from a torn ACL that will likely keep him out until at least December. Kansas guard Ben McLemore, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo and Georgetown forward Otto Porter also are considered some of the top players in the draft.
“I think it’s a balanced draft,” new Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said. “You don’t have an Alonzo Mourning, a Patrick Ewing, a guy like Derrick Rose, Shaquille O’Neal. You don’t have that one player that might single-handedly change the face of the franchise. It’s going to be a draft where you might see a player at taken at 12 that some other team might take at No. 6.”
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AP Source: Coach K returning to US men’s team
Mike Krzyzewski had decided to remain coach of the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team.
Krzyzewski will try to lead the Americans to a third straight gold medal, a person with knowledge of the decision said Wednesday. Originally expected to step down, Krzyzewski will hold a news conference to confirm his return Thursday at Duke, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.
The Hall of Fame coach has led the Americans since 2005, winning gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and the 2010 world basketball championship. His return was first reported by Sports Illustrated.