Close call as Irving lifts Cavs vs Pacers for 2-0 playoffs tab

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

 

CLEVELAND – Blown big leads. Defensive breakdowns. Bad shots. None of it means anything to LeBron James.

The only score that matters is 2-0.

Kyrie Irving scored 37 points, Kevin Love added 27, James had 25 and the Cleveland Cavaliers avoided another fourth-quarter collapse in Game 2, beating the Indiana Pacers 117-111 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

After giving up a late lead and squeaking out the opener by just a point, James and Co. showed more intensity on defense, more swagger in general and held on to win their 10th straight first-round game over the past three seasons.

However, the defending champions, following a pattern that began late in the regular season, nearly gave away an 18-point lead in the fourth as the Pacers crawled within four in the final minute before Cleveland closed it out at the foul line.

Still, James came away encouraged. The Cavs are finding their groove.

”We’re right there of what we know can become,” James said. ”We’ll figure it out. I’d much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all. We’re right there on turning the switch on what we really can become.”

James added 10 rebounds and seven assists while winning his 19th straight game in the first round. He did have eight of Cleveland’s 19 turnovers, miscues that allowed the Pacers to hang around.

Game 3 is Thursday night at Indianapolis.

Paul George scored 32 and Jeff Teague 23 for Indiana, which showed more fight, but now has a steep hill to climb to get back in the series. Cleveland is 12-0 when starting 2-0 in the postseason. (AP)