Cavaliers rally from 26 down, top Indiana to take 3-0 series lead
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — LeBron James finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers set an NBA postseason record by erasing a 25-point halftime deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 119-111 on Thursday night and take a 3-0 lead.
James passed Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the NBA's career playoff scoring list and tied another NBA record by winning his 20th consecutive first-round game.
The Cavaliers will try to sweep the series Sunday.
The incredible rally ruined Paul George's big night. He had 36 points, a playoff career-high 15 rebounds and nine assists.
Cleveland trailed by 26 in the first half and was still down 74-49 at halftime. The largest halftime deficit overcome to win a playoff game had been 21 points by Baltimore against Philadelphia in 1948.
James scored 13 points in the third quarter to get the Cavs within 91-84. Cleveland regained the lead twice during a 15-5 fourth-quarter run and closed it out with a 12-5 spurt.
James now has 5,669 points, 29 ahead of Bryant. He also matched three other ex-Los Angeles Lakers — Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and James Worthy — for most consecutive first-round wins.
This comeback began with a second straight devastating third-quarter punch from the Cavs.
After Cleveland cut the deficit to 77-62 and then watched Indiana extend the margin to 20, Cleveland finished the quarter on a 17-4 spurt to make it 91-84.
Things only got worse for the Pacers.
George's 3 with 5:15 to go gave Indiana a 104-103 lead — its last of the game. James answered with a layup out of a timeout and the Cavs never trailed again.
It's only the second time in the Pacers' NBA history they have lost the first three games in a best-of-seven series. Indiana has never endured a four-game sweep since joining the NBA.
Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Channing Frye all scored 13 points. ... Cleveland has won six straight over Indian. ... After scoring 49 points in the first half, the Cavs scored 35 in each of the final two quarters. ... Kyle Korver scored more points in two quarters (six) than he did in the first two games (four). He finished with 12.
Pacers: George had 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists and Lance Stephenson added eight points and five rebounds in the first two quarters. ... Indiana scored 37 points in the first quarter, falling just short of a season high (39), then matched that 37 in the second quarter for its highest first-half total of the season. ... Coach Nate McMillan made a lineup change, inserting former Cavs player C.J. Miles into the starting rotation. Monta Ellis was relegated to bench duty. ... The Pacers drew two defensive three-second calls in the first half.
On Sunday, Indiana will try to stave off elimination when it hosts Cleveland for Game 4.
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