On Thursday, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar small forward LeBron James put on one of the most memorable NBA Playoffs performances known to man. Despite a 25-point deficit at halftime, “The King” willed the Cavaliers past the Indiana Pacers inside a hostile Bankers Life Fieldhouse with sheer basketball dominance. As a result of their 119-114 victory, the defending champs now hold a 3-0 advantage in the series.
James finished the game with 41 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, two blocks, and one steal in 45 minutes of action, en route to the 17th postseason triple-double performance of his illustrious 14-year career in the association. Kyrie Irving, who struggled to find a rhythm in last night’s game, recorded 13 points, four assists, and two rebounds in 28 minutes of playing time.
Why just 28 minutes for Irving, you ask? Well, that’s because he didn’t play in the fourth quarter. The crafty ball-handler spoke to members of the media after last night’s come-from-behind win with regards to James’ epic game, saying it was “unbelievable” — twice.
“He still amazes me,” Irving said of James. “The question is: Can he ever amaze you guys? Every time he does something amazing he’s always compared to someone else, other performances. But tonight, that was unbelievable. Another historic win for the Cavs organization. He does unbelievable things.”
Irving is definitely right in saying James’ play was unbelievable. The Kid from Akron scored 28 points, six rebounds, and seven assists in the second half alone — all while committing zero turnovers. According to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN, no player in Cavaliers history has ever had that kind of stat line in a playoff game.
Kevin Love, who finished Thursday night’s game with 13 points and six rebounds, had a clear view of James’ on-court dominance. Love says The King put up one of the greatest performances he has ever seen.
“I believe it with him,” Love said. “It doesn’t surprise me. But you’re still in awe of a special performance like that. He was the one that kept us rolling and one of the — at least first hand — one of the great performances I’ve seen and been a part of and been able to play with, especially, and I don’t know what the stat line was at halftime, but the second half performance and being in the plus/minus and doing all the little things and things that don’t show up in the stat sheet as well as what does show up in the stat sheet, it was a special night.”
James, who passed Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA’s all-time playoff points scored leader board last night, won his 20th consecutive first-round playoff game, matching a feat only accomplished by Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and James Worthy of the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite all of that, James kept a humble and focused tone during his post-game media availability.
“I just want to get better every year,” James said. “I don’t settle. I just don’t settle for not being able to do something. Just putting work in and understanding I’m not the best shooter on that team when it comes to three-pointers. We’ve got J.R. (Smith), Kyle, Champ (James Jones) and Kyrie. These guys got three-point shooting contest trophies in their house. For me, I just try to keep the defense off balance. Tonight, I was able to do that. Made a couple shots outside and it opened it up for all of us.”
Game 4 is set for Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST, right back inside The Fieldhouse.