James helps Cavs hold off Pacers, earn sweep into 2nd round

LeBron James feasted at the rim, Kyrie Irving had his offense going in spurts and Deron Williams led another solid bench effort for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"They were giving it all they had", James said. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue made a decision to bench Irving and Kevin Love, the other two members of Cleveland's "Big 3" during the fourth quarter of Thursday's win.

Down as many as 26 points and trailing 74-49 at halftime, all the Cavs did was outscore the Pacers 70-40 in the second half, including 35-17 in the third quarter to get back in the game. With the Bucks or Raptors on tap next, the Cavaliers will need to take a look at what they have been doing defensively.

And what that late surge got them was this: swept. If they lose in embarrassing fashion in Game 4 again, Paul George could be dropped next.

Cleveland gets some extra rest before finding out who it will play in the second round.

"Tough team", James said of the Pacers.

LeBron finished Game 4 with a game-high 33 points to go along with 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals.

But out of a timeout, it was Stephenson who spirited the Pacers again, drilling his fourth 3-pointer of the half to cut the deficit down to just one point.

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Yes, Indiana put up a good fight against Cleveland, but they were miles away from actually being a threat to the defending National Basketball Association champions. Under the current 16-team playoff format, the only players with more first-round series wins without a loss are Robert Horry (16-0) and Derek Fisher (16-0). It's fantastic the more things change (Jeff Teague for George Hill swap, Nate McMillan for Frank Vogel swap) the more they stay the same. And with 1:31 to go, the Pacers were up a point. With the super team of the Golden State Warriors seemingly making good on their promise to take back the NBA Finals trophy to the West, the former Miami Heat star is reportedly looking into adding another All-Star in their lineup.

"I went out being aggressive, putting my teammates into position to be successful, offensively and defensively", James said.

Chris Paul totaled 27 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds to lead Los Angeles.

The NBA said Monday that two crucial traveling violations went uncalled in the Cleveland Cavaliers' first-round closeout win in Game 4 over the Indiana Pacers. There are huge decisions about the franchise that will have to be made in the oncoming months.

For the Cavaliers, the play of Irving and James set the tempo for the visitors, scoring 14 of Cleveland's first 16 points. Of course, the King had an answer for that, too.

George has one-year remaining on his contract and will be a free agent after the 2017-18 season, and the Pacers have this decision: trade George this summer and get players and/or draft picks in return or convince him that they will build a contender around him and re-sign him.

The performance culminated with James hitting a 3 with 68 seconds left in the game that ended up proving the difference.

  • Ronnie Bowen