Basketball: Pacers fail to make Cavs pay

Indiana comeback foiled by Love, flawless at the line, as champions hang on for 2-0 lead

CLEVELAND (Ohio) • Never mind the blown fourth-quarter leads.

After beating the Indiana Pacers 117-111 on Monday in Game 2 of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Eastern Conference first-round play-off series, the Cleveland Cavaliers are feeling pretty good about themselves.

The Cavs have never lost a play-off series in which they led 2-0, going 12-0 when they have won the first two games. Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is tomorrow in Indianapolis.

"We're right there," said Cleveland forward LeBron James after posting 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

"We're right there of what we know we can become, and we'll figure it out."

Kyrie Irving ripped the Pacers apart with 37 points, including a career play-off-best 25 in the second half. Kevin Love contributed 27 points and 11 rebounds and was 12 of 12 from the foul line.

Kyrie Irving getting a shot over the Pacers' Jeff Teague. The Cavaliers point guard led all scorers with 37 points to help hosts Cleveland to a 117-111 win in their Eastern Conference first-round tie.
Kyrie Irving getting a shot over the Pacers' Jeff Teague. The Cavaliers point guard led all scorers with 37 points to help hosts Cleveland to a 117-111 win in their Eastern Conference first-round tie. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ATTACK THE BEST FORM OF DEFENCE

I'm not even going to say it's our defence. It's our offence. I think we get tired at times... and we don't push the ball every single possession when we get a chance.

TYRONN LUE, Cleveland Cavaliers coach, bemoaning his team's habit of continuing to concede points in the fourth quarters of games.

It was the first time in Cleveland history that three players scored at least 25 points in a post-season game.

But fourth-quarter leads continue to be a problem for the NBA champions.

Indiana erased a 10-point deficit with nine minutes left in Game 1, and then in Game 2 cut the Cavs' 18-point lead after three quarters to four with 19.5 seconds left on Paul George's three-pointer.

But Love knocked down two free throws and C.J. Miles was whistled for an offensive foul, thwarting the Pacers' comeback.

"I'm not even going to say it's our defence," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "It's our offence. I think we get tired at times... and we don't push the ball every single possession when we get a chance... It's our turnovers."

James committed eight of the Cavs' 19 turnovers.

While the Pacers could not make Cleveland pay, they have a silver lining going into Game 3: Cleveland had a losing record on the road this season (20-21).

"It's you guys writing us off that this game is going to be easy for the Cavs," said George, who had a team-high 32 points.

"We take away some of these easy baskets we're giving up, and these games might be a little different."

In San Antonio, Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale was left fuming after watching his team slide to a 96-82 loss against the Spurs in their Western Conference showdown.

Kawhi Leonard finished with 37 points as the Spurs took a 2-0 series lead at the AT&T Centre.

But Fizdale unleashed a spectacular post-game tirade against the officiating crew, one that is almost certain to bring disciplinary action from the league.

"It was a very poorly officiated basketball game," he fumed. "First half we had 19 shots in the paint and had six free throws. They shot 11 times in the paint and had 23 free throws.

"I'm not a numbers guy but that doesn't seem to add up. Overall we shot ball in the paint 35 times and we had 15 free throws - for the game. They shot 18 times and had 32 free throws. Explain it to me."

Officials had shown "disrespect" to his team, Fizdale added.

"I'm not going to let them treat us that way," he said.

"That's unacceptable. That's unprofessional.

"My guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game - and they did not even give us a chance."

The series moves to Memphis for Game 3 tomorrow.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Pacers fail to make Cavs pay'. Print Edition | Subscribe