Turner's buzzer-beater gives Sixers win over C's

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Turner's buzzer-beater gives Sixers win over C's

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BOSTON -- Evan Turner had just missed a critical free throw that would have tied the Sixers’ matchup against the Boston Celtics in the final minute.

His body language didn’t seem to suggest disappointment but rather a desire to get another opportunity.

Michael Carter-Williams grabbed a rebound with 10.7 seconds remaining and dribbled up the court before handing the ball over to Turner. That’s when the swingman drove hard to the lane and put in a floater at the buzzer to give the Sixers a 95-94 win.

“Mike got the rebound and was dribbling up past half court,” Turner said. “I saw him kind of fumble and I said I have to get this ball.”

With the ball in his hands, Turner knew exactly what to do.

“I went to my same move that I have been doing since I was eight years old,” Turner said. “When I saw I lost him and then he bumped me, I thought at worst I am going to get a foul called. But I put the floater up and it felt good and we took it from there.”

Turner’s bucket snapped a three-game losing skid for the Sixers and pushed their record to 15-31. He finished the game with 16 points on 6-for-17 shooting to go with six rebounds and eight assists.

While things were unfolding in the final seconds, Sixers head coach Brett Brown thought about calling a timeout. However, he felt that letting his team operate in the flow of the game would be the best bet.

“It is one of the most difficult decisions because everything seems in be in slow motion,” Brown said. “Do you call a timeout? Don’t you call a timeout? I have learned through the ages that the busted play, the broken play, the random play is probably as good an environment that you are going to get often.”

No matter the decision, Brown knew Turner wanted a chance at redemption for the missed free throw.

“You could see that he wanted the ball down the end,” Brown said of Turner. “He was trying to be physical with some of the smaller players and he did.”

But when Carter-Williams came down with the rebound and brought the ball up the floor, Brown thought his rookie point guard -- playing before a couple hundred family and friends from nearby Hamilton, Mass. -- would take the last shot.

“I was kind of surprised Michael gave it up,” Brown said. “I thought Michael was going to try and win the day, but he gave it up, to his credit. I thought we did an excellent job of passing the ball.”

Carter-Williams had seven assists in his Garden homecoming, but like Turner, had trouble finishing. The rookie shot 4 for 14 for 10 points, including 2 for 5 from the foul line.

Missed free throws were almost the Sixers’ undoing. They missed 11 foul shots, going 14 for 25 from the line, including 4 for 10 during the fourth quarter.

However, in handing the ball off, Carter-Williams put Turner, the team’s best foul shooter, in position to make something happen.

“It was done in the flow of the game,” Carter-Williams said. “If I had come out and was feeling really good and my shot had been falling and I was finishing layups, then maybe I would have thought about taking the shot.”

It all worked out in the end. Turner hit his second buzzer-beater of the season and the Sixers overcame the missed free throws and a sizable mismatch on the boards (Boston outrebounded the Sixers, 59-40) with sound team play.

The Sixers got 26 assists on 37 field goals and committed a season-low 10 turnovers, with just two during the fourth quarter.

“The game had ups and downs,” Carter-Williams said. “I wasn’t finishing the ball and really it wasn’t my day. I just wanted to get the rebound because that is the biggest thing, us getting the rebound and a chance to get a shot.

“And at the end of the day it is all about us getting the win and I was giving us the best chance to win.”

It was an improbable win at that.

“Really when you look at the numbers 14 for 25 (free throws), we got pounded on the boards -- they beasted us in the second half. They had 18 offensive rebounds,” Brown said. “If it weren’t for holding them to 37 percent shooting, really I feel lucky to come out of there with a win, but that was what we did and we will take it.”

The Sixers, now a game ahead of the last-place Celtics in the Atlantic Division, will look to make it two in a row on Friday night when they host the Atlanta Hawks.

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals

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BOSTON -- The NBA Finals has its first "three-match," courtesy of a King who passed His Airness.

LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBA's all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 on Thursday night to claim their third straight Eastern Conference title and another trip to the NBA Finals to meet the Golden State Warriors.

Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 for the Cavs, who never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in one of their most dominating wins of the series. The Cavs set an NBA record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.

Cleveland's 4-1 series win gives it a 12-1 record this postseason and sets up a third consecutive matchup with Western Conference champion Golden State, the team it beat in the Finals last season to claim the franchise's first championship.

"I wear the number because of Mike," James said. "I think I fell in love with the game because of Mike, just because of what he was able to accomplish. When you're watching Michael Jordan it's almost like a god. So I didn't think I could be Mike."

It will mark the seventh straight trip to the Finals for James, who hit a 3-pointer late in in the third quarter to nudge past Jordan on the playoff scoring list. He quickly flashed one finger as he backpedaled down the court.

In the postgame trophy presentation backstage, James spent most of it lingering in the background as his teammates celebrated.

But there's no denying that his accolades are putting him in the orbit of Jordan, his boyhood idol.

"The biggest thing is I did it just being me, I don't have to score the ball to make an impact on the basketball game," James said. "That was my mindset. If I'm not scoring the ball, how can I still make an impact on the game?"

As much as this series was about James, Irving helped turn the tide of the series with a 42-point effort in Game 4. But he said both he and his teammates continue to be inspired by their leader.

"He's been the driving force, this entire playoff run, and all of us have just helped us along the way," Irving said.

Coach Tyronn Lue said they've gotten tighter this season.

"This team is a crazy team. They just stayed resilient all year, got to the playoffs, and we really stepped our game up," he said. "Now we can start focusing on Golden State to get ready. As of tonight, I'll get started."

Avery Bradley led Boston with 23 points.

The Cavaliers basically conceded the East's top seed to the Celtics at the end of the regular season by opting to rest their starters in advance of the playoffs. But they displayed their superiority over the final two games to wrap up the series.

After allowing the Celtics to seize the early momentum in Game 4, the Cavs barely gave them the chance in Game 5.

Led by its Big Three, Cleveland quickly built a 21-point lead in the first quarter, while getting lots of contributions from their teammates.

Love continued to knock down shots from the outside, Irving sliced his way into the lane to the rim and James got free for several of his one-handed, tomahawk dunks.

It was a very welcomed sight in Irving's case, after he rolled his left ankle in the third quarter of Cleveland's Game 4 win. He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists.

Meanwhile, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver helped spread out Boston's defenders by connecting on several wide-open scoring opportunities.

Deron Williams, who had been quiet for most of the series, also got in on the act with a series-best 14 points for Cleveland.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: James has scored 30 or more points in 11 of Cleveland's 13 games this postseason. ... Improved to 36-5 against Eastern Conference opponents in the playoffs since 2015. ... The 43 points Cleveland scored in the first quarter set a team postseason record for a quarter.

Celtics: Never led at home in the series. ... Finished the playoffs having made at least 10 3-pointers in 16 of their 18 games. ... Held a pregame moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing.

Making progress
The Celtics did their best to keep up, but the consistent outside shooting, bench scoring and defense they relied on to stun Cleveland in Game 3 wasn't there Thursday night.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said though he's disappointed with how the season ended, he's encouraged that no one in Boston's locker room is satisfied just making it to the conference finals.

"I told our guys: `We made a lot of great strides, but this pain is part of the path to what we ultimately want to be,'" he said.

Showing support
Injured Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas was in attendance Thursday night and gathered with his teammates in a huddle before they took the court for pregame warmups.

The two-time All-Star was sidelined in Game 2 after aggravating a hip injury.

Report: Lonzo Ball, Sixers considering pre-draft workout

Report: Lonzo Ball, Sixers considering pre-draft workout

It may be time for Sixers fans to start setting money aside for some Big Baller Brand gear.

Sources tell ESPN's Chris Haynes that Lonzo Ball is considering working out for the Sixers, who hold the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

"A final decision will be made once Ball's agent, Harrison Gaines, and Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo have had an extensive conversation centered on the identity of the team, sources told ESPN," Haynes writes.

Haynes also states that the main concern between Ball and the Sixers would be how the former UCLA point guard would fit in on a team that plans to feature 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons as the primary ball handler.

This news comes after Ball declined to work out for the Boston Celtics, who own the top pick in June's draft.

"We don't deal with [Ball's camp] all that much," Celtics president Danny Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub radio during The Toucher and Rich Show Thursday. "They didn't show up at the combine, which is very common — many of the top 10 or 15 players don't show up for the combine. ... We just tried to get him in for a workout and they politely said no."

Ball's father, LaVar, has previously stated several times that his son would only work out for the Lakers, who will select at No. 2. Plus, Lonzo Ball has said he would rather be drafted by the home state Lakers instead of going at the top of the draft.

"I'm a family dude," Ball said during an interview on ESPN last month. "All my family is in L.A. So, to be able to play in front of them, I think that would mean more to me."

Even with all the pre-draft posturing and the outspoken nature of his father, Ball has proven to be a top-tier talent. The 6-foot-6 Ball averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds as a freshman at UCLA as he was named a consensus first-team All-American.

We previously looked at how Ball would blend with the Sixers, which one analyst called a "perfect" fit.

The Sixers may be having similar thoughts.