Cavs lose

First-game loss a first for James

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - By TOM WITHERS The As­so­ci­ated Press

CLEVE­LAND — Vic­tor Oladipo scored 32 points and the In­di­ana Pac­ers held off Cleve­land’s sec­ond­half rally for a stun­ning 98-80 vic­tory Sun­day in Game 1 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence se­ries, hand­ing Le­Bron James and the Cava­liers’ their first loss in the open­ing round in eight years.

In­di­ana was in con­trol from the out­set, open­ing a 21-point lead in the first quar­ter and lead­ing by 23 in the third. The Cavs stormed back and got within seven, but Oladipo hit a big 3-pointer and Bo­jan Bog­danovic helped put Cleve­land away with a 3 to make it 88-71.

The Pac­ers com­pletely out­played the three-time de­fend­ing con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons, whose tur­bu­lent reg­u­lar sea­son has car­ried over into the play­offs.

Game 2 is Wed­nes­day night. James scored 24 with 12 as­sists and 10 re­bounds for his 20th ca­reer play­off triple-dou­ble. But James got lit­tle help as Cleve­land’s four other starters — Kevin Love, Jeff Green, Rod­ney Hood and Ge­orge Hill — com­bined for 25 points.

This is all new to James, who had won 21 con­sec­u­tive first-round games. The 33-year-old is try­ing to get to his eighth straight Fi­nals and al­ready the path is tougher than imag­ined.

Cleve­land had won 14 straight first-round games, last los­ing on April 22, 2010, the last sea­son of James’ first stint with the Cavs.

In­di­ana was swept by Cleve­land in last year’s open­ing round. Those Pac­ers, though, didn’t have Oladipo or the bal­ance of this Indy squad, which may lack ex­pe­ri­ence but not con­fi­dence.

Lance Stephen­son, a long­time play­off neme­sis for James, helped set the tone in the first quar­ter with a dunk he punc­tu­ated by throw­ing sev­eral punches into the padded bas­ket stan­chion.

The Pac­ers took the fight to the Cavs. They were more phys­i­cal, more en­er­getic and more com­posed.

Oladipo has be­come one of the NBA’s rising stars, and af­ter be­ing a role player in Ok­la­homa City, he’s In­di­ana’s main at­trac­tion and looked like a sea­soned star on the play­off stage. He made six 3-point­ers, swiped the ball from James on two oc­ca­sions and more than dou­bled his pre­vi­ous play­off scor­ing high of 15.

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