NBA playoffs: LeBron James scores 46, Cavaliers hold off Pacers to even series; Jazz past Thunder to even series
LeBron James scored 46 points and added 12 rebounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers bounced back from a poor performance in the opener by holding off the Indiana Pacers 100-97 on Wednesday night to even their Eastern Conference series at one game apiece.
Dazzling from the start, James scored the game’s first 16 points and had 29 at halftime, dominating the way he has in so many previous postseasons.
But in a season in which nothing has been easy for the Cavs, Cleveland was lucky that Indiana’s Victor Oladipo missed a wide-open 3-pointer that would have tied it with 27 seconds left.
Kevin Love scored 15, but Cleveland’s All-Star center injured his left hand, the same one he broke earlier this season, with 3:43 left. Love’s status could affect the remainder of this series — and perhaps Cleveland’s season.
Kyle Korver added 12 points, all on 3s, and made several hustling plays for the Cavs.
Oladipo scored 22 — he was in early foul trouble — and Myles Turner 18 for the Pacers, who shocked the Cavs with an overpowering win in Game 1.
Indiana clawed back from an 18-point deficit and was within 95-92 when Oladipo, who scored 32 in the opener, somehow came free but missed maybe his easiest shot in two games. James grabbed the rebound and made three free throws over the final 22 seconds as the Cavs avoided falling behind 2-0 on the series.
Game 3 is Friday night in Indianapolis.
Utah 102, at Oklahoma City 95: Rookie Donovan Mitchell scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help the Utah Jazz defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-95 on Wednesday night and tie their Western Conference playoff series at one win game apiece.
Derrick Favors had career playoff bests of 20 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz, and Ricky Rubio had 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the first playoff win of his seven-year career.
Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for the Thunder. Paul George, who scored 36 points in Game 1, finished with 18 on 6-for-21 shooting. Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points, but made just six of 18 shots.
Utah outrebounded Oklahoma City 56-46 to take home-court advantage from the Thunder. Game 3 will be Saturday in Utah.
Oklahoma City had two chances in the final minute to trim Utah’s lead with the Jazz leading 99-95, but Anthony missed 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions.
Utah led 53-46 at halftime behind 12 points from Rubio and 10 points and eight rebounds from Favors. Oklahoma City made just nine of 25 shots inside the 3-point line in the first half. George led the Thunder with 11 points at the break.
Adams picked up his fourth foul with 6:46 left in the third quarter and the Thunder down 65-58, yet Oklahoma City responded with a run. George’s 3-pointer put the Thunder up 69-67. Oklahoma City closed the quarter on a 21-9 run to take a 79-74 lead. The Thunder held the Jazz to 7 for 23 shooting in the third quarter before Mitchell took over in the fourth.
at Houston 102, Minnesota 82: Chris Paul had 27 points and Gerald Green came off the bench to score 21 as the Houston Rockets used a huge second quarter to cruise to a 102-82 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night that gave them a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Houston fell behind early, but went on top for good with a 37-point second quarter, powered by four 3-pointers from Green, and the Wolves didn’t threaten again.
The top-seeded Rockets won the opener by three behind a 44-point performance from James Harden on a night when most of the team struggled offensively. Things were much different on Wednesday when Harden had just 12 points as one of four Rockets who finished in double figures.
Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns had another disappointing game, scoring all of his five points in the first quarter, after being criticized for finishing with eight in the series opener. The All-Star big man went to the bench with about seven minutes left in the third quarter and didn’t return. Jamal Crawford scored 16 points for the eighth-seeded Timberwolves, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Harden said Tuesday that he knew Paul would have a big Game 2 after the nine-time All-Star scored 14 points and tied a season high with six turnovers in the first game. Early on, it was clear that Harden was right, as Paul had 15 points, three assists, two steals and a block by halftime.
Paul, who joined the Rockets in an offseason trade from the Clippers, finished with eight assists and three steals.
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