The Cleveland Cavaliers took a 3-2 series lead over the Chicago Bulls in another gripping encounter in Game 5 at the Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night with a 106-101 win.
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The Bulls started strong and leapt out to an early lead to silence the home crowd, but that didn’t last long as James stepped it up and got the hosts back on a run to take a commanding lead.
Chicago were ultimately playing catch-up from thereon in and fell short of the ultimate aim of winning on the road as they slip to a 3-2 deficit in the series heading home for Game 6 on Thursday night.
James had a monster game with 38 points, 12 rebounds and six assists along with three steals and three blocks, and that is exactly the kind of performance that splits these two well-matched teams in what is an enthralling series.
Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler were influential for the visitors yet again, but it was James who led all scorers while point guard Kyrie Irving put a foot strain and knee tendinitis to one side to play a vital role in the win.
Rose had 16 points along with nine rebounds and seven assists while Butler finished the game with 29 points and nine rebounds as all five Bulls starters finished the game in double scoring figures.
Taj Gibson didn’t finish the game though as he was ejected for kicking out after Matthew Dellevadova caught him a leg lock which in turn resulted in the Bulls forward receiving a flagrant-two foul.
Cleveland will now look to repeat their feat from Game 4 by winning in Chicago to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against either the Atlanta Hawks or the Washington Wizards.
Meanwhile, it could spell further disappointment for Chicago who must now win or face elimination on Thursday, with coach Tom Thibodeau reportedly in the firing line at the end of the season regardless of whether or not they progress any further.
However, he will have been buoyed by the late comeback in the fourth quarter which saw the Bulls go on an 18-5 run to cut the lead down to just four points before the Cavs stepped back on the gas and saw out the win.