EditorsNote: Adds James quote
LeBron James scored 46 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers evened the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at one game apiece with a 100-97 victory over the visiting Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
Game 3 is set for Friday night in Indianapolis.
James hit 17 of 24 shots and 10 of 13 free throws while pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds. Cleveland’s Kevin Love, who left the game with a hand injury with 3:43 left in the fourth quarter, scored 15 points, and Kyle Korver added 12.
Head coach Tyronn Lue said after the game that Love jammed a thumb but should be able to play Friday.
The Cavaliers shot 50.7 percent while the Pacers were at 52.6 percent. However, Indiana was 6 of 22 on 3-point attempts while Cleveland was 11 of 28.
Victor Oladipo topped the Pacers with 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Myles Turner was right behind with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and Darren Collison added 16 points for Indiana.
Collison scored to trim the Pacers’ deficit to 90-86 with 3:43 remaining.
After Cleveland rebuild the lead to 95-89, Collison sank a 3-pointer with 51.2 seconds left, cutting the margin to three.
After Cleveland’s George Hill turned it over with an offensive foul, Oladipo missed a potential 3-pointer. James was fouled and sank both free throws to push the lead to 97-92 with 22.2 seconds to go. Oladipo missed another 3-point shot with 19.2 seconds to go.
“We got lucky,” James said postgame on TNT. “We gave up a wide open three to Oladipo, and he missed it. I’d rather be on time and on target than being lucky. So we gotta do a better job late in games and not give up a shot like that that’s easily something he can make.”
Oladipo hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to provide the final three-point margin.
Cleveland held a 74-67 lead after three quarters. The Pacers, who trailed 68-52 with 8:36 remaining in the third, cut the deficit to 72-67 with 2:59 left in the period. Indiana held a 21-16 edge in the third.
Cleveland, which struggled shooting in Game 1, shot 52.5 percent in the first half to take a 58-46 lead into halftime. Indiana shot 48.7 percent before intermission. The biggest first-half difference was the Cavaliers sank 8 of 18 3-point tries while the Pacers were 2 of 11.
The Pacers, who trailed by as many as 18 points, cut the deficit to 39-35 with a 15-3 run in the second quarter. However, the Cavaliers were able to rebuild the lead to 12 at halftime.
James scored 20 on 9-of-12 shooting in the opening quarter as the Cavaliers grabbed a 33-18 lead. James scored all 16 points as the Cavaliers got off to 16-1 lead. His first 13 points were unanswered.
The Pacers were hurt by the fact Oladipo picked up two fouls in first 62 seconds and had to go to the bench for the rest of the quarter. Oladipo picked up his third foul with 4:47 left in the second quarter, but he wasn’t whistled for another foul in the game.
—Field Level Media