Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Kings with LeBron James on a play called ‘Chicago’

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers beat the Sacramento Kings with LeBron James and a play they call “Chicago,” which is not a reference to the team’s win there over the Bulls on Monday.

Rather, it’s a nod to one of the great plays in James’ storied career, his turnaround jumper over Jimmy Butler as time expired to beat Chicago in Game 4 of the 2015 Eastern semifinals.

There’s not a ton of complexity involved in the play; the idea is to get the ball to James with as few people around him as possible and have him score.

And, with 16.6 seconds to go Wednesday and the Cavs clinging to a 97-95 lead over the Kings, that’s what happened.

Cleveland had the ball coming out of a timeout with 20.6 seconds in the game and about five seconds on the shot clock. James caught the ball and was going against JaKarr Sampson, the Cleveland-born, former Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s standout.

James, who you might know also went to St. V., dribbled and stepped back for a 3-pointer he said he knew was going in.

Ball game. Cavs win, 101-95.

Chicago.

“Was going to run a different play and then Bron said, ‘I want Chicago.’ So I said, ‘OK,'” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “We got it to him and he made a big shot. That was a huge play for us to put us up five.”

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The whole ordeal — the Cavs winning a game off a play called “Chicago,” and Lue admitting he wanted to run something else but let James call the play — is a reminder of the scene from that fateful playoff Sunday in the Windy City.

Then-coach David Blatt did call a different play in the huddle before James’ game-winner, and drew it up so James would throw the inbounds pass. After the win, James offered up to the media that he “scratched” Blatt’s play call.

“I told coach, just give me the ball,” James said in Chicago that day. “And it’s either going to go into overtime or I’m going to win it for us. It was that simple.”

So, there you have it, that’s how “Chicago” was born.

James never had an issue undercutting Blatt when an opportunity presented itself. Sometimes Blatt asked for it.

In fact, it was also in that game, with 9.4 seconds left, where Blatt tried to call a timeout when the Cavs didn’t have any, but Lue jumped up and pulled him back before the referees saw it.

Cleveland was down 2-1 in the series, and a technical foul on Blatt for calling a timeout there could’ve handed the Bulls the win and, maybe, the series.

Anyway, after running the same play to beat the Kings, James was far less loquacious when asked about “Chicago.”

LeBron, did you ask Ty for the ball at the end?

“Yep.”

Did the play go the way you wanted it to?

“Yep.”

“He’s just demanding the ball,” Kyle Korver added. “He’s like ‘give me the ball, we’re about to win.’ And, I’ve been around some guys who’ve had amazing years. I’ve been playing with him, and Derrick (Rose) when he was MVP. Allen Iverson when I was young. Guys who could just, man, amazing. But he’s taken this to a whole new level.”

James scored 32 points to go with 11 rebounds and nine assists against the Kings. He shot 5-of-8 from 3-point range, and is shooting a career high .430 from 3-point range. He’s shooting .450 on above-the-break 3s, which is where he shot this one, and 8-of-11 on stepback 3s.

The shot he nailed years ago over Butler was in front of the Bulls’ bench, in front of the 3-point line.

“I have other options but tonight with five seconds on the shot clock, it was up to me to try and make a play and I was able to do that,” James said.

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