LeBron James scored 32 points and combined with Kyle Korver for all but two of Cleveland’s final 13 points as the Cavaliers escaped with a 104-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday to even the first-round series at two games apiece.
James added 13 rebounds and seven assists in his 100th career playoff game with 30 or more points. Korver made four 3-pointers and wound up with 18 points.
Domantas Sabonis scored 19 points for Indiana. Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo each scored 17, though Oladipo struggled through a poor shooting night.
This one looked and felt a lot like the three previous games – tough, physical and down to the wire.
Indiana led 93-91 with 4:28 to go – but managed only four baskets the rest of the way as James and Korver spurred the decisive 10-2 run that gave the Cavs a 101-95 lead with 1:52 left.
The Pacers couldn’t get closer than three the rest of the way.
Even so, this series has not gone the way the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs hoped.
The Pacers never trailed in Game 1, had a chance to tie the score in the last 35 seconds after trailing by 18 in Game 2, rallied from a 17-point deficit in Game 3 and erased a 16-point, first-half deficit to take the lead early in the fourth.
This time, James and Korver made sure the Cavaliers held on to win for the first time in four tries in Indianapolis this season.
If Cleveland wins two of the next three games, James will advance to the conference semifinals for the 13th consecutive year.
It appeared the Cavs might run away when they took a 49-33 with 6:01 left in the first half.
Instead, the Pacers closed the half on a 10-2 run to get within 60-50 and opened the second half on another 10-2 spurt to make it 62-60.
Cleveland charged back out to a 76-68 lead with 4:41 left in the third only to watch the Pacers score the final six points of the quarter, tie the score on Lance Stephenson’s 11-footer to open the fourth and take the lead on Sabonis’ 3-pointer with 10:51 left.
From that point, it was an all-out slugfest that included James getting called for a technical foul and a wrestling match between Stephenson and Jeff Green for the ball with 9 seconds left. Green finally sealed the win with two free throws after Stephenson was called for a foul.
Cavaliers: J.R. Smith scored 12 points as the Cavs were 12 of 34 on 3s. … Cleveland outscored Indiana 17-7 on fast-break points. … Korver has now made 200 3s in his postseason career. … James extended his record of games with 30 points, five rebounds and five assists to 75. … Kevin Love had five points and 11 rebounds. … The Cavs were 12 of 34 on 3s.
Pacers: Have lost six of their last eight playoff games against Cleveland. … Thad Young has 12 points and 16 rebounds. …. Oladipo was 5 of 20 from the field. … The Pacers were 12 of 33 on 3s. … Indiana allowed more than 100 points for the first time in this series.
Cavaliers point guard George Hill sat out Game 4 with back spasms, an injury he first suffered during Game 1 and aggravated during Game 3.
And it’s not clear whether he’ll be ready to go Wednesday, either.
”There’s just not a lot of movement there,” coach Tyronn Lue said before the game.
With Hill out, the Cavs plugged veteran Jose Calderon into the starting lineup less than 48 hours after not even seeing the court.
Calderon finished with two points and one assist.
Game 5 will be played Wednesday in Cleveland.