INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – LeBron James finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers set an NBA postseason record by erasing a 25-point halftime deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 119-114 on Thursday night and take a 3-0 lead.
James passed Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the NBA’s career playoff scoring list and tied another NBA record by winning his 20th consecutive first-round game.
The Cavaliers will try to sweep the series Sunday.
The incredible rally ruined Paul George’s big night. He had 36 points, a playoff career-high 15 rebounds and nine assists.
Cleveland trailed by 26 in the first half and was still down 74-49 at halftime. The largest halftime deficit overcome to win a playoff game had been 21 points by Baltimore against Philadelphia in 1948.
James scored 13 points in the third quarter to get the Cavs within 91-84.
James now has 5,669 points, 29 ahead of Bryant. He also matched three other ex-Los Angeles Lakers – Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and James Worthy – for most consecutive first-round wins.
This comeback began with a second straight devastating third-quarter punch from the Cavs.
After Cleveland cut the deficit to 77-62 and then watched Indiana extend the margin to 20, Cleveland finished the quarter on a 17-4 spurt to make it 91-84.
Things only got worse for the Pacers.
George’s 3 with 5:15 to go gave Indiana a 104-103 lead – its last of the game. James answered with a layup out of a timeout and the Cavs never trailed again.
It’s only the second time in the Pacers’ NBA history they have lost the first three games in a best-of-seven series. Indiana has never endured a four-game sweep since joining the NBA.