INDIANAPOLIS • Trailing by 26 points. On the road. In the National Basketball Association (NBA) play-offs. For most players, even those who play at an elite level, it probably would be best to simply move on to the next game.
But not for LeBron James, who added another chapter to his legend on Thursday, contributing 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, helping the reigning NBA champions Cleveland Cavaliers rally from a 26-point deficit to stun the Indiana Pacers 119-114 in Game Three of their opening-round Eastern Conference play-off series.
The Cavaliers opened a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as James made his 17th career play-off triple-double. Only Magic Johnson, with 30, has more.
"They came out and jumped on us in the first half, but when we came into the locker room at half-time, I told the guys, 'Let's just get a couple of stops and see what happens'," said James.
"Then we took the ball right at them and got back in the game. For me, it's always just about trying to get better and being the best that I can be. That's what I was trying to do tonight. Then, we got some great play from our guys off the bench."
He became the third-highest scorer in the play-offs with a total of 5,670 points, ahead of Kobe Bryant (5,640)and trailing only Michael Jordan (5,987) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762).
The 26-point comeback ties for the third-largest in NBA play-off history and is the largest since April 30, 2012, when the Los Angeles Clippers came back from a 27-point deficit to beat the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Cavaliers can complete a four-game series sweep tomorrow when the teams play again in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. This is only the second time in Pacers franchise history that they have trailed a play-off series 0-3.
Cleveland outscored Indiana 70-40 in the second half. Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Kyrie Irving and Frye each finished with 13 points and Kyle Korver added 12.
"Tonight was very special," said Love.
Paul George scored 36 points, including 21 during a dominating second quarter, but the Pacers could not stop James and Cleveland in the final 24 minutes.
Indiana coach Nate McMillan said: "We missed layups, they got the momentum and we got hesitant. We didn't establish a killer instinct, and we didn't keep the ball in front of us and deny their three-point shots."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE