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IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS >> When In­di­ana Pac­ers coach Nate McMil­lan went small Fri­day night, Lance Stephen­son came up big.

He baited LeBron James into a late tech­ni­cal foul. He made play af­ter play down the stretch and when the game was over the Pac­ers’ show­man was cel­e­brat­ing.

Stephen­son had 16 points and 11 re­bounds to help In­di­ana erase a 22-point, firsthalf deficit and beat Cleve­land 97-95. It’s the Pac­ers’ third win this sea­son over the three-time de­fend­ing Eastern Con­fer­ence champs.

“It feels good, but it’s a long sea­son,” a more sub­dued Stephen­son said in the locker room. “They’re a tough team, but we came out and played smart de­fense and made the right plays.”

It was a stun­ning twist, com­ing al­most ex­actly nine months af­ter the Cavs ral­lied from a 26-point deficit on the same court to beat In­di­ana in the play­offs.

This time, the Pac­ers handed Cleve­land a third straight con­found­ing loss. The first two came by a com­bined 62 points and on Fri­day the Cavs were outscored 84-61 over the fi­nal three quar­ters on the sec­ond night of back-to-back road games.

Stephen­son had plenty of help. Dar­ren Col­li­son scored 22 points and Vic­tor Oladipo had 19.

But the guy with a knack for get­ting in­side op­po­nents’ heads with un­think­able stunts, like blow­ing in

James’ ear or giv­ing him a thumb in the side — as television re­plays showed dur­ing the game — played the in­sti­ga­tor per­fectly.

James had 21 points, 11 as­sists and eight re­bounds and was called for a tech­ni­cal foul af­ter re­act­ing to Stephen­son’s jab by shov­ing him in the chest. Oladipo made the free throw to give In­di­ana an 84-82 lead with 7:53 to go, a costly point.

The four-time MVP wasn’t amused.

“Lance is just a lit­tle dirty, that’s all. He’s a lit­tle dirty,” James said. “I should have known, I’ve known since school, it’s not the guy who tells the joke that gets caught; it’s the guy who laughs. They caught me on the re­tal­i­a­tion. He played well, though.”

Stephen­son en­tered the game with 5:52 left in the third quar­ter when 6-foot-11 cen­ter Do­man­tas Sabo­nis picked up his fourth foul. McMil­lan let him play the rest of the way.

The re­sult: In­di­ana, which trailed 26-6 about eight min­utes into the game and still trailed 72-60 with 5:23 left in the third, ral­lied. In­di­ana shut out the Cavs over the fi­nal 3:57 and twice stopped James when he could have given the Cavs the lead.

Oladipo’s 3 with 2:10 left gave In­di­ana the lead for good.

James then had two chances to give Cleve­land the lead in the fi­nal two sec­onds. First, a switch by Col­li­son forced James out of bounds on a base­line drive 1.7 sec­onds to go.

Then, James’ des­per­a­tion 3 bounced high off the rim.

“It’s hard to get into his head, but tonight was (dif­fer­ent),” Stephen­son said. “Just play­ing against the best player in the league, try­ing to win against them. There are a lot of fans com­ing out to sup­port him, so I just try to get his fans mad, too.”

War­riors 108, Bucks 94

MIL­WAU­KEE >> Kevin Du­rant scored 26 points, Dray­mond Green added 21 and Golden State used a 13-4 run in the fourth quar­ter to beat Mil­wau­kee.

With sharp­shoot­ing star Stephen Curry still side­lined by a right an­kle in­jury, the War­riors clamped down on de­fense and did most of their dam­age on the other end in the lane.

Du­rant’s mid-range jumper gave Golden State a 96-90 lead be­fore the All-Star for­ward hit an open 3 with 2:15 left to cap the run with a three-pos­ses­sion lead. The War­riors made just three of 13 from 3-point range un­til Du­rant and Green hit backto-back 3s in the fi­nal three min­utes to seal their 11th straight road win.

Tim­ber­wolves 118, Knicks 108

MIN­NEAPO­LIS >> Karl-An­thony Towns fell one as­sist shy of his sec­ond ca­reer triple-dou­ble, scor­ing 23 points and grab­bing 15 re­bounds in Min­nesota’s vic­tory over New York.

Taj Gib­son added 17 points and An­drew Wig­gins had 16 for Min­nesota. The Tim­ber­wolves shot 56.7 per­cent (38 of 67) over the fi­nal three quar­ters to come from be­hind and win their fourth game in a row and 11th of 14 over­all.

Wiz­ards 125, Magic 119

WASHINGTON >> Bradley Beal and John Wall each scored 30 points and Washington snapped a two-game los­ing streak.

Ian Mahinmi fin­ished with a sea­son-high 17 points in the de­fense-op­tional game. Washington shot 56.8 per­cent from the field and scored a sea­son-high 74 points in the paint.

Rock­ets 112, Suns 95

PHOENIX >> Chris Paul scored 25 points to lead six Hous­ton play­ers in dou­ble fig­ures and the Rock­ets, still without in­jured James Har­den, rolled past Phoenix.

Hous­ton, in its sixth straight game with Har­den side­lined by a ham­string in­jury, led by 18 in the sec­ond quar­ter, 22 at the end of the third and 27 in the fourth in its sixth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory over Phoenix.

Pel­i­cans 119, Trail Blaz­ers 113

NEW OR­LEANS >> An­thony Davis scored 36 points in his re­turn from a right an­kle sprain, and New Or­leans beat Port­land.

Davis did not ap­pear at all both­ered by the in­jury that kept him out of Wed­nes­day night’s nar­row loss in Mem­phis, scor­ing on ev­ery­thing from ex­plo­sive drib­ble drives to soar­ing dunks.

Hor­nets 99, Jazz 88

CHARLOTTE, N.C. >> Kemba Walker scored 22 points and Frank Kamin­sky added 16 to lead Charlotte over Utah for its fourth vic­tory in six games.

Marvin Wil­liams scored 15 and Michael Kid­dGilchrist 12 for Charlotte, which won de­spite an off night for Dwight Howard, who scored just two firsthalf points.

Howard fin­ished with eight points on 2-for-9 shoot­ing. He also went 4-for-10 from the foul line.

Nets 110, Hawks 105

AT­LANTA >> Spencer Din­wid­die had 20 points, 10 as­sists and nine re­bounds, Jahlil Okafor added 17 points in a re­serve role and Brook­lyn beat At­lanta.

Din­wid­die made the goa­head bas­ket with 11 sec­onds left as the Nets snapped a three-game los­ing streak to move past an em­bar­rass­ing 34-point home loss to Detroit two nights ear­lier.

Nuggets 87, Griz­zlies 78

DEN­VER >> Will Barton scored 17 points, Trey Lyles had 16 and Den­ver over­came a slow start to beat Mem­phis, snap­ping a sea­son-high, three-game los­ing streak.

Nikola Jo­kic added 14 points and nine re­bounds for Den­ver, which played without guard Gary Har­ris, who was ex­cused for per­sonal rea­sons.

It was the first game Har­ris has missed this sea­son. Barton started in his place.


Cleve­land’s Jeff Green and In­di­ana’s Lance Stephen­son went for the ball dur­ing the sec­ond half on Fri­day.

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