Cavs open 2-0 lead over Pacers with 117-111 win

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[April 18, 2017]  CLEVELAND -- Never mind the blown fourth-quarter leads.

After beating the Indiana Pacers 117-111 on Monday night in Game 2 of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, the Cleveland Cavaliers are feeling pretty good about themselves.

The Cavs have never lost a playoff series in which they led 2-0, going 12-0.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday night in Indianapolis.

"We're right there," said Cleveland forward LeBron James, who was strong again in Game 2 with 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. "We're right there of what we know we can become, and we'll figure it out."

Kyrie Irving ripped the Pacers with 37 points, including a career-playoff-best 25 in the second half. Kevin Love contributed 27 points and 11 rebounds and was 12 of 12 from the foul line. It was the first time in Cleveland history that three players scored at least 25 points in a postseason game.

The Pacers were led by 32 points from Paul George. Jeff Teague scored 23 points, and Thaddeus Young contributed 16.

Fourth-quarter leads continue to be a problem for Cleveland. Indiana erased a 10-point deficit with nine minutes left in Game 1, and then in Game 2 cut the Cavs' 18-point lead after three quarters to four with 19.5 seconds left on a George 3-pointer.

However, Love knocked down two free throws and C.J. Miles was whistled for an offensive foul, thwarting the Pacers' comeback.

"I'm not even going to say it's our defense," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "It's our offense. I think we get tired at times. It's playoffs, guys are playing a lot of minutes and they're competing.

"And we don't push the ball every single possession when we get a chance. But not so much the (isolation) because we have good players who can do that. It's our turnovers. We've got to take care of the basketball."

James committed eight of the Cavs' 19 turnovers. Cleveland was much better at the foul line in Game 2, though, going 20 of 23 after making just 14 of 27 in Game 1.

Cavs guard J.R. Smith did not return for the second half because of a left hamstring injury. He missed three months with a fractured right thumb and was visibly frustrated by the latest setback when he returned to the bench after the third quarter started.

Iman Shumpert, who didn't play at all in Game 1, replaced Smith and scored five points.

"We have so many pieces on this team, but everyone has to stay ready," Irving said. "And he had that mindset, came in and executed, and it's hard to come off the bench right after halftime. We just need Shump to stay focused and understand the task at hand and I think he did a good job of that tonight."

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Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers forward Thaddeus Young (21) during the second half in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A silver lining for the Pacers for Game 3: Cleveland had a losing record on the road this season (20-21).

"It's you guys writing us off that this game is going to be easy for the Cavs," George said. "We take away some of these easy baskets we're giving up, and these games might be a little different. Every point in the game we know we've got a chance to come back. Even when we're down big. We know we've got an opportunity to clamp down and make baskets and get ourselves back in the game."

James needed just two rebounds to pass Robert Parish (1,765 rebounds) for the eighth-most rebounds in playoff history. He also passed Magic Johnson (358 steals) for third place in playoff steals.

With 12 points in Game 3, James would pass Kobe Bryant for third place in NBA postseason scoring.

NOTES: Cavs F LeBron James totaled 32 points and 13 assists in Game 1. It was the 13th playoff game in which he collected at least 30 points and 10 assists. Only Jerry West (14) and Michael Jordan (15) had more. ... Cavs G Kyrie Irving entered Game 2 with 800 playoff points, third most in Cavs history. He passed Mark Price for second place in the third quarter. ... Cleveland G Iman Shumpert didn't play at all in Game 1. It was the first time in his six-year career he was healthy and in uniform but didn't play, according to ... Pacers G Lance Stephenson worked out for the Cavs in January. He was a free agent after being released by the New Orleans Pelicans, who needed his roster spot because he was injured. Stephenson scored 16 points against the Cavs in Game 1, then added 13 in Game 2.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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