INDIANAPOLIS (Indiana) • The Cleveland Cavaliers' five-game road trip ended on a low and there may be no home comforts awaiting.
They face National Basketball Association (NBA) champions the Golden State Warriors tomorrow after blowing a 22-point lead against the Indiana Pacers.
Darren Collison scored 22 points and Victor Oladipo tallied 19 as the Pacers edged out the struggling Cavaliers 97-95 on Friday.
The loss was the third straight for the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions.
Oladipo gave the Pacers the lead for good on a three-pointer with just over two minutes to play.
LeBron James then had two opportunities in the final two seconds to win it but failed on both.
He stepped out of bounds with 1.7 seconds to go, a call that was confirmed by video replay. Then, after Collison made a free throw to give the Pacers a 97-95 lead, James' desperation shot from beyond the arc rattled off the rim at the buzzer.
Following the game, he said the out-of-bounds call was correct but he also poked fun at the no-call that allowed Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to score the winning basket over the Oklahoma City Thunder last month.
"Definitely stepped out by a tiny bit after seeing it over again! Great call. Needed to be in OKC on that drive. Lol. Live and you Learn," James, who finished with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, wrote on Twitter.
He was also slapped with a technical foul after losing his cool and retaliating against Lance Stephenson with 7min 53sec left in the game.
James made the mistake of shoving Stephenson in the chest after the two made contact with each other. After the game, he described Stephenson as a "dirty" player.
"I should have known, it's not the guy who tells the joke that gets caught it's the guy who laughs," James said.
Stephenson had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who improved to 22-20 for the season in front of a crowd of 17,900 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena.
The Cavaliers (26-16), who lost 99-133 at Toronto on Thursday, led by 22 after the first quarter on Friday yet still fell to 0-3 against the Pacers this season.
It will not get any easier for Cleveland. The Warriors, who defeated the Bucks 108-94 without injured star Stephen Curry on Friday, are up next.
"You could win a hundred straight games and face the Warriors and there are still challenges," James said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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