The Cleveland Cavaliers looked dead in the water after one half in Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers. The Cavaliers’ defense remained a sieve, and both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were having off nights offensively. The Pacers led by as many as 26 points late in the first half and by 25 at halftime.
Then LeBron James happened.
James put forth a second-half masterpiece, leading the defending champs back to a stunning 119-114 victory to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Cleveland tied the record for largest comeback in NBA playoff history in the process. It was also the largest comeback from a halftime deficit in playoff history.
LeBron put up 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists while shooting 14-of-27 from the field and 6-of-12 from long range. In the second half alone, he had 28 points, seven assists, six rebounds and zero turnovers. He was also a +30.
The Cavaliers immediately started chipping away at that 25-point halftime deficit by getting it down to 14 early in the third quarter, but a Pacers surge pushed it back out to 20 with under five minutes left in the frame. It looked like that may be it. But a flurry of Cleveland triples, including two from LeBron, made it a seven-point game heading into the fourth quarter.
James dominated the fourth to the tune of 15 points, five rebounds and three assists, and he did it without the struggling Irving and Love the entire quarter. Channing Frye chipped in with 11 fourth-quarter points. The Cavaliers finally passed the Pacers on this play:
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 21, 2017
Things went back and forth a bit for the next few minutes, but Cleveland then took control. A few missed free throws gave Indiana an outside chance, but it was to no avail. This series is now effectively over.
Paul George led the Pacers with 36 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, although he struggled with his shot to the tune of 10-of-28 from the field.
On top of everything, James passed Kobe Bryant to move into third on the all-time playoff scoring list.
Game 4 is on Sunday.