LeBron James made a three-pointer with 68 seconds left Sunday and the Cleveland Cavaliers hung on for a 106-102 series-clinching victory at Indiana.
James finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds as he became the first player under the current playoff format to win 21 straight first-round games. He also set a league record with his 10th career playoff sweep.
It sure wasn’t easy. After taking a 96-83 lead with 9:29 to go, the Cavs found themselves in a 102-100 deficit with 1:31 left.
But James answered with the go-ahead three-pointer and Cleveland sealed the win on James’ free throw with 1 second left.
Lance Stephenson scored 22 points and Paul George added 15 but missed a three-pointer that could have forced overtime in the closing seconds. It’s the first time the Pacers have lost a series 4-0 in the franchise’s NBA history.
Kyrie Irving added 28 points for the Cavaliers, who await the winner of the Bucks-Raptors series.
Indiana got back into the game with a 7-0 spurt early in the in the fourth, then methodically continued chipping away at the lead until Thaddeus Young tied the score at 100 with a short jumper and broke the tie on a tip-in with 1:31 left.
But James, whose teams were 51-0 when starting the fourth quarter with double-digit leads in the postseason, made sure the perfect record remained intact.
Cleveland has won seven straight playoff games overall and 11 straight in the first round since James returned to his hometown team.
It was another milestone day for James, who moved past Michael Cooper, Magic Johnson and James Worthy on the league’s list of consecutive first-round wins, and past Tim Duncan for most career sweeps, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
James made 13 of 25 shots from the field, tying Kobe Bryant for fourth on the career playoff list for field goals. Each have 2,014 baskets.
Indiana has lost five consecutive postseason games and six of its last eight.
Houston 113, at Okahoma City 109: Nene scored 28 points on perfect shooting from the field as the Rockets took a commanding 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
Nene made all 12 of his shots and had 10 rebounds. He helped the Rockets overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.
Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each scored 18 points for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza had 14.
Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.
The Thunder said Westbrook joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to claim three consecutive playoff triple-doubles. Steven Adams scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo added 15 for the Thunder.
Boston 104, at Chicago 95: Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points to lead the Celtics to a second consecutive road win that tied the first-round playoff series at 2-2.
Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.
Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.
Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists. Nikola Mirotic and seldom-used Isaiah Canaan each scored 13 points, but Dwyane Wade finished with just 11. Canaan made his first appearance since April 10, with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg searching for help at point guard with Rajon Rondo missing his second straight game because of a broken right thumb.
The Celtics led by 20 in the second quarter and were still up 10 in the third when Chicago scored 12 straight. The Bulls went ahead 65-63 on Robin Lopez’s hook shot with 4:35 left in the quarter.
Thomas answered with back-to-back layups and scored 10 points in a 12-0 run that gave the Celtics a 75-65 lead, and they withstood a push by the Bulls early in the fourth. With Thomas and Green each scoring 16 in the first half, the Celtics carried a 57-46 lead into the break.