The Cleveland Cavaliers have a pulse. The Cavs outlasted the Indiana Pacers, 104-100, to win Game 4 and tie the series at 2-2. LeBron James again carried Cleveland, but it was the three-point shooting from his supporting cast that made the difference.
Cleveland secured the win with a 10-2 run late in the fourth quarter keyed by a huge three-pointer from Kyle Korver. Korver and J.R. Smith each knocked down four threes and combined for 30 points to give Cleveland the supplemental scoring punch it needed.
LeBron took it from there. James was brilliant again across 46 minutes, finishing with 32 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. He went 0-of-5 from three, but was a bull going to the basket and money (8-of-9) from the foul line. It’s the 100th time in James’ career he’s scored 30 points in a playoff game. Think about that.
Indiana was in this game until the very end. Victor Oladipo struggled, finishing with 17 points on 5-of-20 shooting. His teammates picked him up. Domantas Sabonis was automatic inside, leading Indiana with 19 points. Myles Turner (17 points) again played an efficient game and even hit three threes, while Lance Stephenson added 11 points and five assists while again irritating LeBron all night.
Jordan Clarkson also added 12 points for the Cavs.
The series is now tied at 2-2 entering Game 5 in Cleveland. The Cavs needed this win badly, and they got it.
Here’s a running blog of what happened during the game.
Cavaliers 104, Pacers 100, final.
A Victor Oladipo triple cuts the deficit to three, then Stephenson forced a tie-up following the inbound pass. The referees reviewed the play and decided Stephenson fouled Jeff Green on the play, Green got two free throws and the game was essentially sealed.
Here’s the call:
Jump ball forced by Lance Stephenson.— NBA Buzz (@OfficialNBABuzz) April 23, 2018
Referees review, then decide to call a foul on LANCE.
CORRECT CALL? pic.twitter.com/7LR4SWodVU
Cavaliers 99, Pacers 95 (2:20 in the fourth)
A huge three from Kyle Korver gives Cleveland a fourth-point lead. He’s got 16 points.
Pacers 91, Cavaliers 89 (6:12 in the fourth)
The Pacers have seven players in double figures in scoring, but no one with more than Domantas Sabonis’ 19 points. It’s a good representation of who these Pacers are as a team: so selfless and balanced, with every player on the floor capable of hitting an outside shot and defending their position.
The Cavs are in for a hell of a fight if they want to avoid going down 3-1 in this series.
Also: Lance Stephenson is being very Lance Stephenson.
Cavaliers 87, Pacers 87 (8:17 in the fourth)
Most important quarter of the NBA season to date is coming up— Playoff Mike P (@MikePradaSBN) April 23, 2018
That might even be an understatement when you consider how it plays into LeBron James’ free agency decision.
The Cavs led by as many as 16 in the first half. This is huge.
Cavaliers 73, Pacers 68 (5:44 in the third)
Last five scoring possessions:
— JR Smith three.
— Bojan Bogdanovic three.
— Jose Calderon three.
— Bojan Bogdanovic three (again).
— Kyle Korver three.
Cavaliers 60, Pacers 50 (halftime)
Another game, another double-digit halftime lead for Cleveland, who got 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting from a scorching LeBron James in the first half to go with six rebounds and four assists. Jordan Clarkson added 12 points for the Cavs and didn’t miss a shot.
Cavaliers 40, Pacers 28 (8:53 2Q)
J.R. Smith has nine early points for Cleveland, including this three from beyond half court to end the first quarter.
The Cavaliers have their backs against the wall — well, figuratively. They inexplicably dropped Game 1 and find themselves in a 1-2 deficit against a raging Pacers team looking to protect home court. That doesn’t bode well for Cleveland in its efforts to return to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season.
The Cavaliers can wear all the suits they want; that won’t help them play the defense they need to slow the fast-paced Pacers down. What Cleveland needs is continuity, and maybe a few other rotational pieces. It’s too late for either.
The Pacers and Cavaliers are facing off for what will be a ferocious Game 4 in Indiana. Victor Oladipo has been nothing short of outstanding. So has LeBron James. But Indy’s role players have run circles around Cleveland’s, and there are no signs that will change any time soon.
Cleveland is without George Hill, which means Jose Calderon will get the start. That’s a 36-year-old being tasked to dart around the court, chasing the speedster, Darren Collison. Good luck with that.
If the Cavaliers lose on Sunday, they’ll fall to a 1-3 deficit, and even though the series is shifting back home, they’ll need to win another game on the road if they’re going to make it out of the first round. LeBron James has never been eliminated this early into the playoffs. Will this be the year The King’s streak comes crashing down?