Bojan Bogdanovic scored 30 points, leading the Indiana Pacers back from a 17-point halftime deficit for a 92-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night to lead 2-1 in their first-round series.
Cleveland was 39-0 during the regular season when leading after three quarters and kept that perfect mark intact with a Game 2 win.
The incredible second-half charge came exactly one year after Indiana blew a 26-point halftime lead in a historic playoffs collapse against the Cavs.
This time, the Pacers delivered a devastating blow to the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs – on a night LeBron Jones joined Michael Jordan as the only players in playoffs history to record 100 double-doubles. James finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Cleveland from losing their first game this season after leading following the third quarter.
The biggest reason for the collapse: Bogdanovic.
After charging back with striking distance, he completed a 4-point play to finally give the Pacers an 81-77 lead with 6:10 left. Bogdanovic followed that with another to make it as seven-point game.
Then James answered with the next seven to tie it.
Bogdanovic came right back with a layup and another three before Thaddeus Young scored to give the Pacers a 91-84 cushion, with 53 seconds left.
James knocked down a three to cut the deficit to four, and the Cavs got another three from Kevin Love with seven seconds left to make it 91-90.
Darren Collison made 1-of-2 free-throws with five seconds left, giving Cleveland one more chance. But JR Smith’s long desperation heave came up short.
Cavaliers: Have lost five of seven this season to the Pacers and are 0-3 in Indianapolis … Cleveland are now 37-7 in the playoffs against the Eastern Conference since 2015 … Love finished with 19 points and six rebounds despite playing with an injured left thumb … James has 12 straight double-doubles against the Pacers. He also played in his 221st career playoff game to move past Kobe Bryant for No 6 on the career list.
Pacers: Have won only two of their last seven playoff games against the Cavs … Indiana were 11-2 in games decided by three or fewer points this season – the best winning percentage by a team since the 1979-80 Philadelphia 76ers … The Pacers have rallied from deficits of 15 or more points nine times this season … Victor Oladipo had 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists … Thaddeus Young scored 12 points.
Indiana’s fans booed the refs loudly throughout the first half. Then they really got upset after watching Oladipo crash hard to the floor on the final play of the half.
No foul was called and Oladipo slapped the floor before getting up and complaining.
If that wasn’t enough to upset the crowd, Larry Nance Jr walked over and started yelling at Oladipo. That’s when Young stepped in and tried to be peacemaker.
Nobody was called for a technical foul.
Game 4 is Sunday at Indianapolis.