Published May 03, 2016
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James answered Derrick Rose's buzzer- beater with one of his own in Game 4.
James, after being whistled for a costly offensive foul on the previous possession, caught an inbounds pass with 1.5 seconds remaining and hit a tough fadeaway from the left corner with Jimmy Butler in his face.
The clutch shot gave the Cavaliers a thrilling 86-84 win and tied their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Bulls at two games apiece.
The whirlwind finish mirrored the roller-coaster swings throughout the pivotal showdown, with Cleveland falling behind by as many as 11 after missing 13 straight shots at one point in the third quarter.
J.R. Smith sparked the turnaround, scoring 11 of his 13 points during a 23-5 stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters. Timofey Mozgov also came up with several big buckets and finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
James took on an even bigger role with Kyrie Irving clearly limited with a foot injury. The former MVP played 43 minutes and totaled 25 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists while committing a game-high eight turnovers.
Both teams shot under 40 percent from the floor, and Cleveland connected on just 5-of-25 from 3-point range. The Cavs covered up their offensive struggles by making all but one of their 24 free-throw attempts.
Rose, two days after banking in a 3-pointer to steal Game 3, poured in 31 points for the Bulls and pulled them even with a scintillating drive to the basket with 9.1 seconds remaining.
James, whose elbow out of a double-team drew a whistle leading to Rose's tying basket, drove baseline and was greeted under the basket by Joakim Noah. There was some contact but no call, and the ball was knocked out of bounds by the Bulls.
Cleveland had no timeouts remaining but managed to draw up James' winner as the officials gathered for a lengthy review of the game clock.
"The last two games could have gone either way," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Derrick made a great play (in Game 3) and LeBron made a great play tonight."
Game 5 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Cleveland.
Rose attacked the basket early on, Butler was making jumpers and both scored nine points as the Bulls ended a tight first quarter with a 28-26 lead.
Chicago was on top 37-29 early in the second before missing 13 consecutive shots during a seven-minute span. Cleveland's subsequent run turned an eight- point deficit into an eight-point lead, and the Cavs went into the break holding a 49-45 edge.
Cleveland had its own seven-minute drought in the third, and a Tony Snell 3- pointer inside the final minute pushed Chicago's lead to 68-57.
James was 1-for-8 from the field in the quarter before getting a runner to fall. He set up Mozgov for a layup prior to the buzzer to give the Cavs some momentum entering the fourth.
Smith made a jumper and a 3-pointer around two Mozgov free throws to even things at 68-68 three minutes into the fourth, and another Smith 3-pointer sparked a 7-0 run that gave the Cavs the lead for good.
"He's a money ball shooter. He shoots it with confidence," Cavs head coach David Blatt said. "We need him to make big shots. Lot of credit to (him)."
Irving scored 12 points on 2-of-10 shooting ... Noah pulled down 15 rebounds ... Butler scored 19 points on 21 shots ... The Bulls played without Pau Gasol because of a hamstring issue ... Chicago shot 11-of-12 from the foul line.