LeBron James crystalized his reputation as one of the best playoff performers in NBA history on Wednesday as the Cleveland Cavaliers rebounded from a game one rout with a 100-97 win over the Indiana Pacers.
James scored 20 of his 46 points in the opening quarter, getting off to a torrid start in which he outscored the Pacers 13-0 and 16-1 to start game two of the first round Eastern Conference series.
Cleveland bounced back from an embarrassing 98-80 loss in game one and the mighty James set the tone early Wednesday, giving credence to coach Tyronn Lue’s pre-game prediction that if he showed up the Cavs would level the series.
He did exactly that, shooting 17 of 24 field goals and delivering 12 rebounds and five assists as the Cavs had to survive a late fourth quarter charge by the Pacers.
James also helped put the game away with two clutch free throws with 18 seconds left to make it 99-92.
Pacers star Victor Oladipo made a 26 foot jumper at the buzzer to close out the scoring.
Oladipo finished with a team high 22 points in the loss.
The series now shifts to Indiana for game three on Friday.
James’ teams have never lost a first round series and being down 0-1 marked another first for James, whose teams have always managed to come out firing on all cylinders before.
Game one was so one-sided the Cavs recorded the second-fewest points of their season.
But these are not normal times for Cleveland as the highs and lows have become more acute, leaving fans wondering which version will show up on any given night.
James’ consistency has kept it together as he enjoyed one of his best seasons, averaging 29.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 10.0 assists during the regular season.
Even in the loss in game one, he still managed a triple double with 24 points, 10 boards and 12 assists. (Agence France-Presse)