It didn’t look like a historic game at halftime, but Game 3 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers turned out to be just that.
Lebron James, who played every minute of the 2nd half, notched his 17th postseason triple-double en route to leading the Cavs to an unprecedented playoff comeback victory over the Pacers.
James recorded 41 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and swatted 2 shots. Even more mind boggling is that James either scored or assisted on 73 points per ESPN Stats & Information research.
What seemed like a bold statement from the Pacers, who are now down 3-0 and on the brink of elimination, ended up being ‘the Lebron James Show’.
The Pacers squandered a 25-point lead, which built due to hot shooting and stingy 1st half defense.
Indiana ended the 1st half confident and in control, with Lance Stephenson burying 3-pointers while yelling “This is my f—ing house!” and Paul George taking over the game.
But their lead dwindled quickly in the 3rd quarter and eventually evaporated and ended up being the biggest blown halftime lead in playoff history.
“They’re playing through all our punches, and we’re throwing haymakers, and they’re weaving,” Stephenson said. “That’s how it feels.”
“Thought early on in the third, I saw it getting out of hand,” George said. “Again, it comes down to trust. I trust the guys on that floor, but I just watched it kind of unravel. That’s when I should have stepped in and demanded the ball a little bit more. Just to start out, get us moving, get us flowing, get everybody in rhythm again and engage everybody once again. I did a poor job of that to start the third.”
James’ performance left his teammates, like Kyrie Irving, in awe.
“He (James) still amazes me,” Irving said after the game.
“The question is can he ever amaze you guys [in the media]? Every time does something amazing he’s always compared to someone else, other performances. But tonight that was unbelievable, down 25, tied for the biggest playoff comeback right there. Another historic win for the Cavs organization. He does unbelievable things. I’m always very excited and always happy, especially when he leads us to a win like that. I mean a 40-point triple-double and the win, we’ll take it.”
“He just willed his team and said, ‘I’ll put you guys on my back, going to make every play, make the right play,’ ” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said of James.
One thing I do know is that we had a huge halftime deficit and were able to come back and win the game” James said.
“I didn’t know it was the biggest comeback or things of that nature. For myself, I just try to put myself in position to help my teammates win no matter who’s on the floor with me. Try to empower them, try to make them better, try to make them believe we can be great every night.
“No matter who’s on the floor with me and, for myself, I just don’t settle for being not as great as I can be. It’s not going to result in a stat line like this every night. When my mind is fresh and in the moment, sometimes certain things like this happen, so I don’t know. I can’t even really appreciate it. I’ll let you guys write your words about it and go from there. Only thing that matters is a win, and that’s what I’m here for.”
“LeBron willed us home, 41, 12 and 13, played the whole second half,” Lue said. “That’s what playoff basketball is all about. You got to be willing to sacrifice and lay it on the line to win a game, and that’s what he did for us.”
The Pacers, on the brink of elimination, may have wasted their only chance to get back into the series.
Now, with their backs against the walls, they have to hope for a little historical magic themselves.