LeBron James was exhausted and banged-up, but he came through in the clutch as the Cleveland Cavaliers earned a thrilling overtime 114-111 win over the Atlanta Hawks to take a strangle hold of the Eastern Conference finals.

The win puts the Cavaliers on the cusp of their second NBA Finals appearance with a 3-0 lead in the best-of seven series.

James missed his first 10 shots in the game, but soon found his range and scored 15 points in the third quarter alone.

"Started out the game just out of character, out of rhythm, but I had to make a difference," James said in an on-court interview.

He appeared to hit the wall in the fourth, missing shots as he favoured a tender left ankle, and at one point appearing to consider leaving the game.

But he sank a three-pointer in the final minute of overtime just after Jeff Teague had given the Hawks a two-point lead with his own three-pointer.

James then all but put it away with a layup with 13 seconds remaining to widen the lead to three points.

The Hawks' Shelvin Mack then missed two three-point attempts in the closing seconds.

James finished with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists, and passed Karl Malone for sixth all-time in playoff scoring.

Game Four is on Tuesday in Cleveland.

Source: Reuters