Bojan Bogdanovic scored 30 points, leading the Indiana Pacers back from a 17-point halftime deficit on Friday night for a 92-90 victory at home over the Cleveland Cavaliers and a two-games-to-one lead in their first-round Eastern Conference series.
Cleveland was 39-0 during the regular season when leading after three quarters and kept that perfect mark intact with a Game 2 victory.
The second-half charge came exactly a year after Indiana squandered a 26-point halftime lead in a historic playoff collapse against the Cavaliers.
This time, the Pacers delivered a devastating blow to the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions, and on a night when LeBron James joined Michael Jordan as the only players in playoff history to record 100 double-doubles. James finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but it was not enough to prevent Cleveland from losing for the first time this season when it had a lead after the third quarter.
“Last year’s team, I don’t know if we would have gone down 17, I don’t know if we would have overcome it,” forward Thaddeus Young said. “But this team, we’ve been resilient all year. We’ve overcome adversity.”
The biggest reason for the collapse: Bogdanovic.
After the Pacers had charged back to within striking distance, Bogdanovic completed a 4-point play that gave the Pacers an 81-77 lead with 6 minutes 10 seconds left. Bogdanovic followed that with a 3-pointer that made it a 7-point game.
James answered with the next 7 points, tying the score.
Bogdanovic came right back with a layup and another 3-pointer, and Young added a score, giving the Pacers a 91-84 cushion with 53 seconds left.
James knocked down a 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 4, and the Cavs got another 3 from Kevin Love with seven seconds left, making it 91-90.
Darren Collison made a free throw with five seconds left, giving Cleveland one more chance. But J. R. Smith’s long desperation heave came up short.
“We were more aggressive in the first half,” James said. “We had tempo, they didn’t. Then they were more aggressive in the second half, they had tempo, and we didn’t.”
WIZARDS 122, RAPTORS 103 Bradley Beal heeded his coach’s plea to do his job and scored 21 of his 28 points in the first half, his All-Star backcourt running mate John Wall delivered 28 points and 14 assists, and Washington beat visiting Toronto in an occasionally heated game, cutting its deficit in the first-round Eastern Conference series to two games to one.
After letting the Raptors grab the first two-games-to-none series lead in franchise history, the Wizards returned home and checked off every box Coach Scott Brooks presented. They got Beal, who made only three shots in Game 2, more involved. They led after the first quarter, 30-29. They played with enough defensive focus to produce 19 Toronto turnovers, leading to 28 Washington points.
It was a rare recent victory for Washington, which had lost seven of eight games going back to the regular season.
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 23 points on 10-for-22 shooting, a game after scoring 37, and Kyle Lowry had 19 points and 8 assists.
BUCKS 116, CELTICS 92 Khris Middleton scored 23 points, leading host Milwaukee past Boston to cut its series deficit to two games to one. (NYT)
WINSLOW FINED The N.B.A. fined Miami’s Justise Winslow $15,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct for attempting to damage Philadelphia center Joel Embiid’s mask on Thursday. Winslow intentionally stepped on Embiid’s mask after it had fallen onto the court.