INDIANAPOLIS – LeBron James finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers set an NBA postseason record by erasing a 25-point halftime deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 119-114 on Thursday night and take a 3-0 lead.
James passed Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the NBA’s career playoff scoring list and tied another NBA record by winning his 20th consecutive first-round game.
The Cavaliers will try to sweep the series Sunday.
The incredible rally ruined Paul George’s big night. He had 36 points, a playoff career-high 15 rebounds and nine assists.
Cleveland trailed by 26 in the first half and was still down 74-49 at halftime. The largest halftime deficit overcome to win a playoff game had been 21 points by Baltimore against Philadelphia in 1948.
James scored 13 points in the third quarter to get the Cavs within 91-84.
James now has 5,669 points, 29 ahead of Bryant. He also matched three other ex-Los Angeles Lakers – Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and James Worthy – for most consecutive first-round wins.
This comeback began with a second straight devastating third-quarter punch from the Cavs.
After Cleveland cut the deficit to 77-62 and then watched Indiana extend the margin to 20, Cleveland finished the quarter on a 17-4 spurt to make it 91-84.
Things only got worse for the Pacers.
George’s 3 with 5:15 to go gave Indiana a 104-103 lead – its last of the game. James answered with a layup out of a timeout and the Cavs never trailed again.
It’s only the second time in the Pacers’ NBA history they have lost the first three games in a best-of-seven series. Indiana has never endured a four-game sweep since joining the NBA.
GRIZZLIES 105, SPURS 94MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Mike Conley scored 24 points and handed out eight assists as the Memphis Grizzlies snapped a 10-game postseason skid against San Antonio by routing the Spurs 105-94 on Thursday night.
The Grizzlies pulled within 2-1 in this first-round Western Conference series, giving first-year coach David Fizdale his first postseason victory. This also marked the Grizzlies’ first win over the Spurs in the playoffs since April 2011, when Memphis beat San Antonio in six games.
Game 4 is Saturday night.
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph each scored 21 points for Memphis, which outscored San Antonio 31-17 in the third quarter and led by as much as 22 in the second half.
Kawhi Leonard, who scored 32 and 37 in the first two games, was held to 18. LaMarcus Aldridge added 16, and Kyle Anderson had 15 as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich benched his starters for most of the fourth quarter.
BUCKS 104, RAPTORS 77MILWAUKEE – Khris Middleton scored 20 points and the Milwaukee Bucks overwhelmed the cold-shooting Toronto Raptors for a 104-77 win on Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Greg Monroe added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Bucks, who held DeMar DeRozan without a basket and never looked back after leading by 20 points after the first quarter.
Making this blowout even more impressive was that they barely needed All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. He finished with 19 points and eight boards.
Game 4 is Saturday back at the Bradley Center.
With raucous fans wearing black Bucks giveaway T-shirts to match the players' uniforms, Milwaukee put on a dominating display of basketball worthy of the team's "Fear the Deer" slogan.
The Raptors looked frazzled after shooting 4 of 18 in the first quarter. Kyle Lowry had 13 points.