James bails out Cavaliers in se­ries sweep against Pac­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS -

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS | Le­Bron James stuck to the old script Sun­day. Again, he bailed out the Cleve­land Cavaliers. And again, he sent the In­di­ana Pac­ers home for va­ca­tion.

On yet an­other mile­stone day for bas­ket­ball’s king, James’ crown­ing achieve­ment was mak­ing the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:08 to play and help­ing the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons hold on for a se­ries-clinch­ing 106-102 vic­tory at In­di­ana.

“You have to men­tally chal­lenge your­self ev­ery year and go out and try to do what’s right — putting your body on the line, putting your team on the line and try­ing to be suc­cess­ful,” James said. “It’s very hard.”

But the four-time MVP makes it look easy. He fin­ished with 33 points, 10 re­bounds, four as­sists, four steals and two blocks.

By win­ning his 21st con­sec­u­tive first-round game, James broke a tie with Michael Cooper, Magic John­son and James Wor­thy for the long­est streak un­der the NBA’s cur­rent play­off for­mat. By sweep­ing a se­ries for the 10th time, James broke a tie with Tim Dun­can for the most in a ca­reer, ac­cord­ing to

Elias Sports Bureau. By go­ing 13 of 25 from the field, he pulled into a tie with Kobe Bryant for the fourth high­est post­sea­son field goal to­tal with 2,014.

And by hold­ing on for the win, James im­proved to 52-0 in the play­offs when his team takes a dou­bledigit lead into the fourth quar­ter.

James con­sid­ered the mile­stones a foot­note on a day the Cavs blew a 13-point lead and al­lowed the Pac­ers to come all the way back and take a 102-100 lead with 1:31 to go.

“They were giv­ing it all they had,” James said. “Ob­vi­ously, a loss would have ended their sea­son. We just had to weather the storm once again.”

Of course that’s when James took the cue and came to the res­cue.

He made the long 3 to give Cleve­land the lead, poked the ball away from Young on the next pos­ses­sion, grabbed the re­bound when Paul Ge­orge missed a 3 with 1.9 sec­onds to go that could have forced over­time and, of course, made 1 of 2 free throws to seal the win.

Now Cleve­land takes a se­v­engame win­ning streak into the con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals against ei­ther Mil­wau­kee or Toronto.

For In­di­ana, it will go down as yet an­other tor­ment­ing chap­ter in their ri­valry with James.

James’ teams have elim­i­nated the Pac­ers four times in six years and com­pleted the first-four game sweep in In­di­ana’s NBA his­tory.

Cleve­land fin­ished the sea­son 7-1 against the Pac­ers, win­ning the last four with a de­fen­sive stand, a rare 25-point game from three play­ers, the largest sec­ond-half come­back in play­off his­tory and now James’ knock­out punch.

Lance Stephenson led the Pac­ers with 22 points. Ge­orge had a se­ries low 15.

“It’s real frus­trat­ing to con­tinue on los­ing to the same team or same per­son,” Ge­orge said. “Ul­ti­mately, he (James) is who I’m al­ways go­ing to have to see and face.”

The Pac­ers sure didn’t make it easy, though.

They charged back from a 96-83 deficit with a 7-0 spurt early in the in the fourth quar­ter. Then they me­thod­i­cally con­tin­ued chip­ping away un­til Young tied the score at 100 and then gave them the lead.

But James an­swered with the goa­head 3.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cavaliers for­ward Le­Bron James had 33 points and 10 re­bounds in a Game 4 vic­tory.

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