Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - A hobbled LeBron James initially asked to check out of the game in overtime before quickly changing his mind and waving off his substitute.
He grimaced slightly after knocking down the go-ahead 3-pointer with under a minute left and was on all fours near midcourt after Shelvin Mack's potentially game-tying 3 clanked off the rim at the buzzer.
The battered and bruised Cleveland Cavaliers are a win away from the NBA Finals. A victory on Tuesday could give them some needed rest before then.
James had his first triple-double this postseason with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists and the Cavaliers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 114-111 on Sunday night to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
"I've never seen a stat line like that in a playoff game," Cavaliers coach David Blatt said.
James, who missed his first 10 shots from the field, ended 14-of-37 from the field. His shot to give Cleveland a 112-111 advantage with 36.4 seconds left was his only 3 of the game.
Jeff Teague, who posted 30 points, seven assists and six rebounds, drove down the lane and had a step on James at the other end, but James altered the shot and Teague's layup was well off the mark.
"That's a layup I should've made," Teague said. "He (James) just made a good defensive play."
James banked in a runner with 12.8 ticks on the clock and Mack missed a pair of 3s in the final five seconds.
The four-time NBA MVP James favored his right leg for much of the extra session and dropped face down on the court in exhaustion when the horn sounded. Blatt said that James began cramping up in overtime, but stayed in the game because he (James) knew Cleveland couldn't win without him.
"He just would not let us lose," Blatt said.
James didn't find the scoring column until the 8:05 mark of the second quarter and recorded his first field goal just over a minute later.
"Can you imagine if he started quickly," Blatt joked.
Already without sharpshooter Kyle Korver due to an ankle injury he suffered in Game 2, the Hawks lost All-Star big man Al Horford during the final minute of the opening half after throwing an elbow on the side of Matthew Dellavedova's face. The incident occurred after Horford and Dellavedova were fighting for a loose ball rebound.
Horford was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul following a lengthy review and was tossed from the game. He had scored 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting to that point.
"It hurt us when he came out because he was playing so well," Teague said. "He was carrying us."
The scrappy Dellavedova, who was handed a technical foul on the play, injured Korver Friday night when he dove into his legs going for a loose ball.
Horford didn't call Dellavedova a dirty player postgame, but stated that "he's got to learn."
"He's a player that plays hard, there's got to be a line at one point," he said. "At the end of the day it's a big brotherhood."
Dellavedova was filling in for the injured Kyrie Irving, who missed his second straight game due to a lingering knee issue that he aggravated in Game 1. The Cavs, of course, are also without Kevin Love after he separated his shoulder in the first round.
J.R. Smith supplied 17 points and 10 boards, Dellavedova scored 17 and Tristan Thompson added 10 points and seven rebounds for second-seeded Cleveland, which held a 56-42 rebounding advantage and a 19-6 margin on the offensive glass.
Paul Millsap provided 22 points and nine rebounds for top-seeded Atlanta.
Kent Bazemore nailed four straight free throws to cap a 13-2 Hawks run which staked them to a 97-95 edge with 4:32 to go in regulation. A pair of Teague baskets a bit later made it 104-100 in favor of Atlanta with 1:38 to go in the fourth.
James then split a pair of foul shots, found Thompson for a layup and Iman Shumpert made 1-of-2 free throws with 18.1 ticks in the period to knot the contest at 104-104.
Teague took the clock down at the other end, but his left wing triple ricocheted off the left side of the rim.
Earlier, despite James' 0-for-9 effort and their 22.2 percent shooting in the opening frame, the Cavs trailed by just three, 24-21, going into the second. They took nine more first quarter shots because they pulled down nine offensive rebounds.
Atlanta was up 49-48 at the break, but Shumpert finished off a 7-0 spurt late in the third to help Cleveland build a 74-67 margin. The Cavs went into the fourth with an 81-76 advantage.
James moved into second place on the all-time playoff triple-doubles list with 12. Magic Johnson is first with 30 ... James surpassed Karl Malone to move into sixth place on the postseason scoring list ... Atlanta is just 21-of-79 from beyond the arc in the series ... The Hawks were 28-of-32 from the foul line.