LeBron in sev­enth heaven as Cava­liers top Pac­ers to ad­vance

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS -

CLEVE­LAND » LeBron James scored 45 points and got some needed help in Game 7 to stay un­beaten in the open­ing round of the play­offs, lead­ing the Cleve­land Cava­liers to a 105-101 win over the In­di­ana Pac­ers, who pushed the game’s best player to the limit.

James im­proved to 13-0 in the first round and kept Cleve­land’s strange sea­son alive — for the time be­ing. It took ev­ery­thing James and the Cavs had to hold off the Pac­ers, who were swept by Cleve­land a year ago and came in con­fi­dent af­ter a 34-point win in Game 6.

The Cavs will open the con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals on Tues­day at top-seeded Toronto.

James played 43 min­utes, leav­ing late in the third quar­ter and head­ing straight to the locker room to be treated for cramps. The 33-year-old was go­ing to leave it all on the floor in what some Cleve­land fans feared could have been his last game with the fran­chise.

Tris­tan Thomp­son made a rare start for the Cavs — Cleve­land coach Ty­ronn Lue used his 34th dif­fer­ent start­ing lineup this sea­son — and added 15 points and 10 re­bounds. Kevin Love made four 3-point­ers, and Ge­orge Hill re­turned af­ter miss­ing three games with back spasms to score 11 in 19 sec­ond-half min­utes.

Vic­tor Oladipo scored 30 and Dar­ren Col­li­son had 23 for the Pac­ers. ROCK­ETS 110, JAZZ 96 » James Har­den scored 41 points and Hous­ton raced out to a huge lead and sailed to a 110-96 win over Utah in Game 1 of the Western Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals.

Hous­ton was up by 25 at half­time be­hind 34 points com­bined from Har­den and Chris Paul. The Jazz, who didn’t wrap up their firstround se­ries with Ok­la­homa City un­til late Fri­day night, looked slug­gish and strug­gled to keep pace with the en­ergy of the top-seeded Rock­ets, who hadn’t played since elim­i­nat­ing Min­nesota on Wed­nes­day.

It was Hous­ton’s fourth straight win by 10 or more points this post­sea­son.

Har­den, who also had seven as­sists and eight re­bounds, picked up where he left off in the reg­u­lar sea­son against the Jazz when he av­er­aged 34.3 points, led by a 56-point per­for­mance in a 137-110 win in Novem­ber.

The Jazz got 21 points each from rookie Dono­van Mitchell and Jae Crow­der while play­ing with­out start­ing point guard Ricky Rubio, who sat with a strained left ham­string.

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