(SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will try to close out the Chicago Bulls Thursday night as Game 6 emanates from the United Center.
The Cavs took a 3-2 lead in this Eastern Conference semifinal matchup Tuesday with a 106-101 victory at Quicken Loans Arena. If they advance, it will be the first time the Cavaliers reached the conference finals since the 2008-09 season.
James nursed a sprained left ankle Tuesday, but still put up dynamic numbers. He posted 38 points, 12 rebounds and six assists to go along with three blocks, three steals and zero turnovers.
"I think our coaching staff did a great job putting me in a position to be successful," said James.
That comment came after a buzzer-beating Game 4 win when James acknowledged he "scrapped" the play head coach David Blatt called in the timeout.
James matched Michael Jordan with his 51st playoff game with at least 30 points, five rebounds and five assists.
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 Blatt. "Some of the same shots that we were missing in recent games."
Jimmy Butler paced the Bulls with 29 points and Mike Dunleavy netted 19 in their second straight loss. Derrick Rose put in a forgettable 7-for-24 shooting effort, including 1-of-12 in the second half. The former MVP finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Cleveland snatched the lead late in the first quarter on an Irving 3-pointer 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 jump-start Chicago's comeback.
Consecutive 3s by Butler in the final minutes had the Bulls 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 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."
The Bulls do return to the Windy City and may get some help. Pau Gasol, who missed the last two games -- both losses -- with a strained hamstring, intends to play Thursday night.
"I hope that my presence is positive," Gasol told the Chicago Tribune. "Offensively, I bring things that makes it a little easier for the rest of the guys."
Game 7, if needed, will be Sunday in Cleveland.