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Cavs Notes

Jim Ingraham: Cavaliers use a whole lot of LeBron to win Game 2, even series

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    The Cavaliers' LeBron James drives to the basket against the Pacers' Lance Stephenson in the first half Wednesday at The Q. James asserted himself from the outset, scoring the Cavs' first 16 points and 20 in the first quarter as Cleveland won 100-97 to tie the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.

    AP

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Great game, LeBron.

Now do it again. And again. And then one more time.

Then you can grab a bite to eat, and it’s on to Toronto for the next round!

Going into Wednesday night’s Game 2 against Indiana, the Cavs, and everyone who cares about the Cavs, wanted LeBron James to come out LeBroning. So he did.

Did he ever.

Sometimes NBA playoff games are decided by who has the biggest kid on the playground. The Cavs had LeBron, and LeBron playgrounded the Pacers, and wouldn’t let the Cavs lose.

LeBron had 46 of the Cavs’ 100 points, 12 of their 30 rebounds, five of their 15 assists and 10 of their 15 made free throws.

On a night when beast mode was necessary, beast mode it was for the world’s greatest player.

He scored the Cavs’ first 16 points and single-handedly outscored Indiana in the first quarter 20-18.

“I just felt in a good rhythm and tried to stay in that zone as long as I could,” said James.

“He did a great job of attacking the basket and setting the tone,” said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue.

And a tone needed setting, because in Game 1 of the series the Cavs were tone deaf.

LeBron was invisible in the first quarter and the Pacers outhustled, outworked, outeverythinged the Cavs, who left their intensity socks in their other shoes.

Wednesday night was different. The Cavs played harder, played smarter and played LeBron-er.

When in doubt — and there was plenty of doubt when the Pacers whittled an 18-point Cavs lead down to four points — it was throw-it-to-the-big-kid time for the Cavs.

And LeBron LeBroned ’em.

Two games into this 4 vs. 5 seed playoff it’s very apparent that the Cavs have their hands full with these young and feisty Pacers. Indiana has played with no fear in either game, nor should they — Indiana has won four of the six games with Cleveland this season, counting the playoffs.

In Game 2, the Pacers outrebounded the Cavs and had more assists.

Think about this: LeBron scored 46 points, Indiana star Victor Oladipo, limited to just 28 minutes due to foul trouble, “only” scored 22 points, 10 points fewer than he scored in Game 1 — and the Cavs, playing at home, still only won by three points.

In case you hadn’t noticed, these Pacers can play.

“If we want to go to the Finals, teams are going to come after us,” Lue said. “It’s not going to be easy, and we have to understand that.”

The next two games are in Indianapolis, where the Cavs always seem to have trouble, and where the Pacers were 27-14 in the regular season.

The series is tied at 1 and it’s already starting to have the feel of a seven-game series.

“Our goal is to win four games. There’s no prize for a sweep,” said Lue.

In Game 1, LeBron had one of the least impactful triple-doubles of his career, mostly because he was a no-show in the first quarter when the tone for the game was set.

The Cavs typically take their cue from LeBron, and when he was strangely passive in the first 12 minutes, the other Cavs behaved like a bunch of nervous sidekicks, checking their watches while waiting on the street corner for their leader, who must be having car trouble or something.

LeBron didn’t even attempt a shot in the first 10 minutes of the game. By the time he scored his first point — a free throw with 1:52 left in the quarter — the Cavs were losing 25-9.

LeBron’s first field goal didn’t come until 11:08 of the second quarter, when the Cavs were gazing up at the Pacers from a 33-19 hole.

That won’t cut it.

In the playoffs, LeBron needs to “LeBron” even more than in the regular season. The other Cavs can ease into a playoff game, but this isn’t LeBron’s first rodeo. He needs to come roaring out of chute No. 23 like the baddest bucking bull in the building. If not, the Cavs are in big trouble.

In Game 1, by the time LeBron did his LeBron thing, it was too late. The horses were out of the barn, the Pacers were too far out in front and the Cavs were out of gas.

Prior to Game 2, Lue vowed that wouldn’t happen again.

“I’m going to get him involved early, whether he likes it or not,” Lue said.

LeBron got involved, all right.

So did the two new additions to the starting lineup, Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith, who both played well.

Korver scored 12 points and Smith had a huge late-game layup after he stole the ball from Oladipo at midcourt.

So after losing a should-win game, the Cavs won a must-win game.

Contact Jim Ingraham at 329-7135 or jingraham4@gmail.com and follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter.


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