The Cleveland Cavaliers' thrilling 114-111 come-from-behind victory over the hapless Atlanta Hawks in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals came down to one play on Sunday.
Down 111-112 with 31 seconds on the clock in overtime, the Hawks' Mike Scott let a deflected ball sail right past him into the stands. It was the defining moment that sealed Atlanta's fate and handed the victory to the Cavs.
"I cost us the game… Never should have let it go out of bounds," a remorseful Scott told WSB's Zach Klein in the Hawks locker room after the game.
True champions step up to make crucial plays when the game is on the line.
Even if Scott thought the opposing player touched the ball last, he should have made an effort to keep the ball from going out of bounds. Especially since no team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.
The hapless Hawks lost game 3 because of bonehead decisions by Scott and his teammate Al Horford, who was ejected in the 2nd quarter for throwing an elbow at Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova's head.
"Listen, he went at my legs," Horford, 28, whined to a ref before he was tossed.
Some believe Horford retaliated against Dellavedova for inadvertently rolling over on Hawks guard Kyle Korver's right leg in game 2. Korver will miss the rest of the playoffs with an ankle injury.
Although Horford acknowledged Dellevadova didn't intentionally try to hurt him, he still made excuses for his WWE wrestling move.
I don't think that it was malicious, but he's gotta learn," Horford said after the game.
"If it was on purpose or not, we don't know. Maybe it wasn't on purpose. But, you know, with his track record, I just felt like it was."
Game 4 is in Cleveland on Tuesday, May 26. Afterwards, LeBron and his banged up teammates will have 8 days to rest and prepare to take on the red hot Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
The Cavs are favored to win the NBA championship.