Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James played through a sprained left ankle and turned in his best performance of the playoffs, posting 38 points, 12 rebounds and six assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 106-101 win over the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.
James, who evened the series at 2-2 with his buzzer-beating baseline jumper at the end of Game 4, missed shootaround Tuesday morning with the injury that he suffered late Sunday but it hardly showed when the lights came on.
"I think our coaching staff did a great job putting me in a position to be successful," said James.
Kyrie Irving, who scored 25 points, also through played through a number of injuries, including a sprained right foot and tendinitis in his left knee. The duo shot 23-for-40 from the floor.
"We made shots," said Cavs coach David Blatt. "Some of the same shots that we were missing in recent games."
James also had three steals and three blocks and did not commit a turnover. With this performance, he matched Michael Jordan with his 51st playoff game with at least 30 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Cavaliers can close out the series Thursday in Chicago.
Cleveland snatched the lead late in the first quarter on an Irving trey and never gave it up, though the Bulls did rally late to make things interesting.
Trailing by 10 early in the fourth quarter, Taj Gibson was assessed a flagrant-2 foul and had to watch the rest of the game from the locker room. The call itself was questionable -- all Gibson appeared to do was try and break free from Matthew Dellavedova's grasp with no malicious intent -- but it did jumpstart Chicago's comeback.
Consecutive 3s by Jimmy Butler in the final minutes had the Bulls to within 101-99. Irving then missed a 3-pointer, leaving the door open for Chicago to tie or take the lead, but James chased down Derrick Rose's transition layup and stuffed it out of bounds. Butler was off the mark on a drifting 3-ball later in the possession, and Irving put the game away with two from the foul line.
"I liked the fight that we had to come back," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "But we have to play a lot tougher than we played tonight."
Butler paced the Bulls with 29 points and Mike Dunleavy netted 19 in their second straight loss. Rose put in a forgettable 7-for-24 shooting effort, including 1-of-12 in the second half.
"Our main focus right now is getting that next win at home," said Dunleavy. "Maybe we do get a little momentum heading in from this fourth quarter."
The Bulls opened the second half the same way they started the game -- with eight straight points. That cut a 10-point halftime deficit down to two, but they never got over the hump as Irving dominated the next portion of the game.
Irving found Tristan Thompson for a layup then scored on consecutive possessions. After Dunleavy and Butler made 3-pointers, Chicago's first two of the game, near the midpoint of the third to make it a one-point game, Irving scored five straight with a deep 3 and pull-up jumper in transition.
The lead was 12 late in the period when Nikola Mirotic beat the buzzer with a halfcourt heave, but Cleveland never lost its composure after that.
Chicago looked lifeless for much of the first half, struggling to put the ball in the hoop on one end and stop James and the Cavs on the other.
Butler missed all three of his 3-point tries, and six other players went 0- for-1 as the Bulls missed all nine attempts from deep over the first 24 minutes. They also shot just 31.8 percent from the floor.
James netted 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting in his highest scoring half of the postseason so far. Iman Shumpert and Irving added a combined 21 points on 9- of-16 shooting.
The Cavs shot 50.6 percent (40-for-79) as a team ... Bulls power forward Pau Gasol missed his second straight game with a strained hamstring ... James had 23 turnovers through four games ... Shumpert scored 13 points, while Thompson and J.R. Smith had 12 apiece for the Cavs ... Rose posted 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.