Jones' 17-foot baseline jumper with 4.8 seconds remaining in
overtime gave the Cavaliers a 114-113 victory over the Washington
Wizards on Friday night, Cleveland's third one-point victory in a
series that ended with the visitors celebrating in a pile near
midcourt and left the home team stunned into silence.
"Damon Jones, self-proclaimed 'Best Shooter in the Universe,'
hit a dagger," said LeBron James, who made the winning shots in
Games 3 and 5.
James scored 32 points in the Game 6 finale, his first playoff
series ending in success.
"This is probably one of the best feelings I've had in a long
time," James said. "I didn't want to come here and just be happy
to be in the playoffs."
He outdueled Gilbert Arenas, who scored 36 points and sent the
game to overtime with a long 3-pointer -- then missed two free
throws in overtime that gave Cleveland the chance to win.
"It is hard to swallow," Arenas said. "You feel you let your
Cavaliers won two road games in a playoff series for the first
time in franchise history and won a playoff series for the first
time since 1993, when James was 8 years old. They will have little
time to celebrate. They open the second round at Detroit on Sunday.
The last two games of the series went to overtime, and Game 6
was tight once the Cavaliers overcame the Wizards' 14-point
first-quarter lead. For 24 minutes -- from early in the second
quarter to early in the fourth -- neither team led by more than five
Jones was a marginal player in the series, and he was on the
court for only the final sequence of Game 6. His line: 1-for-1 with
2 points in 14 seconds of play.
James shot 15-for-25 and had seven rebounds, seven assists and
five turnovers. He had a pair of key blocks and persevered after
getting knocked woozy in a collision with Wizards center Brendan
Haywood early in the fourth quarter.
Donyell Marshall scored a season-high 28 points, and Flip Murray
had 21 for the Cavaliers.
The Wizards blew a seven-point led with 4:48 to play in
regulation and needed Arenas' 30-footer with 2.3 seconds to play to
send the game to overtime.
"He shot it from the ESPN booth," James said.
In the extra period, Butler made two free throws with 30 seconds
left to give the Wizards a one-point lead. The Cavaliers were
working to try to retake the lead when Eric Snow launched a
crosscourt pass that flew over the head of Murray and into
The turnover gave the Wizards the ball, but Arenas failed to
capitalize by missing both free throws when he was fouled with 15
seconds left. He might have been thrown off by James, who engaged
in a bit of gamesmanship by talking to Arenas between the two
"I told him if he missed both of those free throws, the game
was over," James said.
Arenas' account was a little different. He said James told him:
"If you miss this, you know who's hitting the game-winner."
But it was Jones who then hit the winner -- a surprise, given
that the Cavaliers have ridden James' shoulders throughout the
series -- and Butler missed a jumper at the buzzer for the Wizards.
James was rattled when the side of his head collided with the
upper body of Haywood with 9:59 to play. Haywood was called for a
foul but not a flagrant one -- there appeared to be nothing
malicious about the contact -- yet James was on his hands and knees
for about a half-minute while Cleveland called timeout.
James missed both free throws -- amazingly, his first attempts of
the game -- and committed a turnover on Cleveland's next possession.
He eventually recovered. James sprawled on the floor to retrieve
a rebound after Washington's Jared Jeffries missed the second of
two free throws with 1:10 to play. James also blocked Jamison's
layup from behind, setting up a fast break that led to a pair of
free throws from Murray with 23 seconds to play, giving the
Cavaliers their first lead of the fourth quarter.
Arenas had the chance to give the Wizards the lead again, but he
missed a layup in traffic. After a series of free throws, Arenas
hit his long 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.
Coach Eddie Jordan has often said the Wizards can handle
adversity but not prosperity -- they regularly overcome daunting
deficits but often blow big leads. Their 24-10 edge was built on
9-for-12 shooting, but the Cavaliers needed only six minutes to tie
the game in a run highlighted by James' block on Arenas.
The sequence began when Arenas stole a pass near midcourt and
drove for a dunk, but James challenged the shot and both players
crashed to the floor. When no foul was called, Jordan screamed and
kicked. He and Arenas were assessed technicals, and Jordan was
restrained by Daniels and two assistant coaches.
The Cavaliers had never won a Game 6, going 0-4 all-time
until Friday. ... Butler mistakenly took the free throw after the
flagrant foul involving Haywood, so Haywood had to retake the free
throw later in the quarter. ... James has set at least 15 franchise
records in the series. Perhaps the most telling is his 182 total
points through five games, easily surpassing Brad Daugherty's mark
of 158 set over seven games in the 1992 Eastern Conference finals.