By Daryl Ruiter | 92.3 The Fan

CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – LeBron James reminded everyone of his greatness and why Dan Gilbert must make things right between them so he doesn’t leave again this summer Wednesday night.

James showed once again that he really is the heart of the Cavaliers.

It was another all-time great performance for the once-in-a-generation James, who beat the buzzer with a spectacular turnaround fadeaway jumper as time expired in overtime to lift the struggling Cavaliers to a 140-138 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves injecting some much needed life and joy into the team.

“It’s big for camaraderie,” head coach Tyronn Lue said. “The whole team running on the floor chest bumping…We need to have fun and enjoy the game more.”

For a night, James and the Cavs looked like the team they’re supposed to be in a game that featured 34 lead changes and 16 ties.

“The way we’ve been playing, we needed that,” Lue said. “He was very special.”

With 1 second on the clock, James caught the 50-foot inbounds pass from Jeff Green, turned around at the free throw line and drilled the jumper sending Quicken Loans Arena into a frenzy and the Minnesota Timberwolves home with a tough overtime defeat.

“Once I caught it, I just trusted everything I’ve done in my career,” James, who scored 9 of the Cavs’ 11 points in overtime, said.

It was his fifth career game-winning buzzer beater, and the second time he victimized Butler.

Green’s pass from the back court sideline couldn’t have been more perfect giving James a chance to elevate over Jimmy Butler as time expired.

“I did the science, wet the finger trying to figure out the trajectory to throw it over [Karl-Anthony] Towns,” Green said. “I put a good spin on it and dropped it right in the spot it needed to be in.”

James nearly won the game all by himself.

Moments before hitting the game winner, James swatted away a driving runner from Butler with authority to preserve the tie at 138 as J.R. Smith quickly called timeout ultimately giving James a last shot to win it.

James also tied the game at 129 with 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer but his attempt to win it in regulation with another three was off.

James made history too while racking up his ninth triple-double of the season – 37 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists.

By Passing Zydrunas Ilgauskas as the Cavs’ all-time leading rebounder Wednesday night with his eighth board, he joined Michael Jordan and Kevin Garnett as the only players in NBA history to lead their respective franchises in points, rebounds and assists.

The win, which was just the eighth in their last 22 games, ended an 8-game losing streak on national television as well.

“It was a good win, but our record still stinks on national television,” James said. “We’ve got a couple coming up, so we’ll try to change that.”

The effort by Osman appears to have earned him playing time going forward.

“I got to keep playing him,” Lue said. “I mean, he brings a lot. He can guard 1s, 2s and 3s. He knows the coverages, he’s in the right spot defensively all the time and offensively he can make plays. He can run the floor and can catch and go. For a rookie, he really understands how to play the game, and we have to find minutes for him.”

Spark Plug – Cedi Osmond injected the Cavs with some much needed energy Wednesday night and it did not go unnoticed.

“He doesn’t know. He’s out there just playing for the love of the game,” James said. “He’s going to make mistakes, which is okay, but his purity of the game is infectious to our team. He hasn’t been in many situations, so he’s not even going to trip about what’s going on.”

Osmond scored 9 points – including making 2 of 4 three-point tries – while adding 4 rebounds and a steal in 21:28 off the bench.

“It was amazing, seriously,” Osman said. “The most important thing for us was to win tonight. We’ve been struggling. This was so important for us.”

The effort and energy appears to have earned him some future playing time.

“I got to keep playing him,” Lue said. “I mean, he brings a lot. He can guard 1s, 2s and 3s. He knows the coverages, he’s in the right spot defensively all the time and offensively he can make plays. He can run the floor and can catch and go. For a rookie, he really understands how to play the game, and we have to find minutes for him.”

Flagrant Shot – Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague hit Jae Crowder in the back with a forearm as Crowder drove to the basket with 10:48 left in the third sending Crowder to the ground. Several Cavs were displeased, including Crowder, who jumped up quickly before the officials stepped in to prevent an altercation.

After a replay review Teague was hit with a flagrant-1 for not attempting to make a play on the ball.

Swan Song – If Wednesday night’s game was the last for J.R. Smith as a Cavalier, he went out with a bang.

Smith, who is reportedly on the trade block in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, started off hot against the Timberwolves hitting 6 of his first 8 shots from the floor, including 5 makes from 3. He had 11 points in the first quarter and 17 by halftime.

Smith, who finished 7 of 14 including 6 of 11 from deep, ended the night with 20 points.

Bombs Away – The Cavs hit 21 3-pointers and the 2 teams combined to hit an NBA-record 40 from downtown Wednesday night.

The previous mark was 39 set by Golden State and Dallas on March 25, 2016.

All In – Lue summed up what it’ll take for the Cavs to get things turned around and moving in the right direction directly and succinctly prior to Wednesday night’s game.

“I think we gotta just stick together,” Lue said. “The biggest thing about professional sports is that it’s a team sport. We need everyone to be all in and we need everyone to play together. That’s how you win.

“You don’t win with an individual or two individuals. You win with everybody so we gotta understand that, realize that but winning cures a lot of different things.”

Wade Out – Dwyane Wade was given the night off by Lue, who ruled him out prior to the game for the second night of the back-to-back.

Wade took full advantage of the evening off as he rolled into the locker room at 6:40 p.m. By then Cavs had already conducted a pregame “practice” session in the arena and Lue had already spoken to reporters.

While Wade violated no rules, it is emblematic of the individual and “me first” attitude seen recently on the team.


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