Cavs Rally from 26 Points Down
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 119-114 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.
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 Indiana. … 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.
BUCKS 104, RAPTORS 77
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 20 points and the Milwaukee Bucks overwhelmed the cold-shooting Toronto Raptors for a victory to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Greg Monroe added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Bucks, who held DeMar DeRozan without a basket and never looked back after leading by 20 points after the first quarter.
Making this blowout even more impressive was that they barely needed All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. He finished with 19 points and eight boards.
Game 4 is Saturday back at the Bradley Center.
With raucous fans wearing black Bucks giveaway T-shirts to match the players’ uniforms, Milwaukee put on a dominating display of basketball worthy of the team’s “Fear the Deer” slogan.
The Raptors looked frazzled after shooting 4 of 18 in the first quarter. Kyle Lowry had 13 points.
DeRozan scored eight but was 0 of 8 from the field. The Raptors and their playoff-tested backcourt looked nothing like the crew that held off the Bucks in Game 2 in Toronto.
This night belonged to Milwaukee.
The Bucks moved the ball well, hit open shots and had a double-digit edge on points in the paint for much of the night.
On the other end, the Bucks’ length bothered the Raptors. Toronto also started poorly from the 3-point line, missing its first six shots from behind the arc.
With about 6 minutes left in the second quarter, the Raptors had called their fourth timeout while trailing by 31.