Game 3 between the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers turned out to be a close-fought battle until the last second of the game. With 19 lead changes and 17 ties, neither team took a double-digit lead and with 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter, JR Smith locked the game up at 96-96 on a three-pointer.
Quicken Loans Arena prepared itself for overtime, but Derrick Rose thought otherwise. With a 30-footer bank at the buzzer, he gave the Bulls a 99-96 victory over Cleveland and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. He did not call glass.
Rose scored 30 points and added 7 rebounds and 7 assists. For the first time in the series, he was able to go to the free-throw line (9-of-10) as he was aggresive going to the basket all night long. Most improved player of the year Jimmy Butler added 20 points and 5 steals, in addition to great defense on Lebron James, harrassing the future Hall-of-Famer from start to finish, forcing him into 7 turnovers.
James had a difficult night, shooting only 8-of-25 and missing 6 of his 7 attempts from behind the arc, partly because of Butler’s efforts. Nevertheless, he nearly finished with a triple-double: 27 points, 14 assists and 8 rebounds. James has not been shooting well this entire series, making less than 40% of his shots. It will only be a matter of time before he finds his touch, but with the Cavaliers trailing the series 2-1, there is no more room for error.
Cleveland’s other superstar, Kyrie Irving, played with a sore foot and was not much of a factor in game 3, shooting 3-of-13 and failing to produce a single assist. The Cavaliers will need a lot more from him on Monday (5:30 AM AEST), when they will be looking to tie up the series.