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

  • Cleveland’s LeBron James keeps the ball from Indiana’s Paul George during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round playoff series on Thursday in Indianapolis. James finished with 41 points and helped his team rally from a 25-point halftime deficit for a 119-111 victory. George scored 36 points and grabbed 15 rebounds but his team now trails the defending champions, 3-0, in the first-round series. AP

  • Indiana Pacers' Lance Stephenson grabs a rebound during the first half in Game 3 of the team's first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Michael Conroy

  • Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson grabs a rebound above Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner, rear, during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) Darron Cummings

  • Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner reacts after a dunk during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Michael Conroy

  • Indiana Pacers' Paul George reacts after hitting a shot during the first half in Game 3 of the team's first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Michael Conroy



Associated Press
Thursday, April 20, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – LeBron James finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers set an NBA postseason record by erasing a 25-point halftime deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers, 119-111, on Thursday night and take a 3-0 lead.

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 will try to sweep the series Sunday.

James scored or assisted on 73 points altogether, his most in a playoff game in his career. His 17th career postseason triple-double tied him for second-most all-time. Magic Johnson leads with 30.

Cleveland’s incredible rally ruined Paul George’s big night. He had 36 points, a playoff career-high 15 rebounds and nine assists.

The Cavaliers 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. Cleveland regained the lead twice during a 15-5 fourth-quarter run and closed it out with a 12-5 spurt.

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.

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.

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.

Bucks 104, Raptors 77

MILWAUKEE – Khris Middleton scored 20 points and the Milwaukee Bucks overwhelmed the cold-shooting Toronto Raptors for the win to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Greg Monroe added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Bucks, who held DeMar DeRozan without a basket and never looked back after leading by 20 points after the first quarter.

Making this blowout even more impressive was that they barely needed All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. He finished with 19 points and eight boards.

Game 4 is Saturday back at the Bradley Center.

With raucous fans wearing black Bucks giveaway T-shirts to match the players’ uniforms, Milwaukee put on a dominating display of basketball worthy of the team’s “Fear the Deer” slogan.

The Raptors looked frazzled after shooting 4 of 18 in the first quarter. Kyle Lowry had 13 points.

DeRozan scored eight but was 0 of 8 from the field. The Raptors and their playoff-tested backcourt looked nothing like the crew that held off the Bucks in Game 2 in Toronto.

This night belonged to Milwaukee.

The Bucks moved the ball well, hit open shots and had a double-digit edge on points in the paint for much of the night.

On the other end, the Bucks’ length bothered the Raptors. Toronto also started poorly from the 3-point line, missing its first six shots from behind the arc.