LeBron James engineered one of the biggest comebacks in NBA playoff history, fighting back from a 25-point halftime deficit to win Game 3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first round series against the Indiana Pacers. James finished with a stat line of 41 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and two blocks in one of the most impressive games he’s had this season.
Fellow Cavaliers stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were not called upon at all in the fourth quarter, and they were just as awed as NBA fans. “He still amazes me… Tonight was unbelievable, down 25, tied for the biggest playoff comeback right there. Another historic win for the Cavs organization. He does unbelievable things. I’m always very excited and always happy, especially when he leads us to a win like that. I mean a 40-point triple-double and the win, we’ll take it,” Irving gushed after the game. Love and Irving were only 8 for 29 in the previous three quarters, and Love expressed his understanding at the decision to let James push the comeback with the second-team lineup. “[Coach] Ty Lue looked at both of us and asked us if we were prepared and ready, and I shook my head yes. But that team was rolling, man. That was a hell of an effort by those guys, and it can do so much for us and our confidence. So many guys hit big shots and made big plays on both ends of the floor. You have to tip your hat to them,” Love said after the game.
On the Pacers’ side, a wave of disappointment was palpable in the locker room, especially compared with the exuberance Lance Stephenson and Paul George were displaying in the first half when they accumulated such a substantial lead. The Pacers are now facing elimination, with Game 4 coming on Sunday. Coach Nate McMillian reportedly told the team after the game: “Sunday’s game will be a test of our character. It just comes down to that: Who’ll show up and fight to win a game?”