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James, Cavs come back from 26 down, beat Pacers to take 3-0 lead

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James, Cavs come back from 26 down, beat Pacers to take 3-0 lead

/ 11:29 AM April 21, 2017
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James celebrates a basket against the Indiana Pacers during the second half of Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Indianapolis. The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 119-114. AP PHOTO

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James celebrates a basket against the Indiana Pacers during the second half of Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Indianapolis. The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 119-114. AP PHOTO

INDIANAPOLIS— LeBron James finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists as 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 (Friday, Manila).

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, leading 3-0, will try to sweep the series Sunday (Monday, Manila).

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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.

GAME 1 RESULT: NBA: Cavaliers escape with win over Pacers in playoff opener

GAME 2 RESULT: NBA: Irving shines as Cavs take grip on Pacers

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.

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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.

TIP-INS

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.

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TAGS: Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, Lebron James, NBA, NBA playoffs
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