CLEVELAND — The third quarter had not been kind to the Cavaliers for much of their first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.
Wednesday night in Game 5 at Quicken Loans Arena, they reversed the trend.
After being outscored by a combined 24 points in the third quarter of three previous games, including a combined 19 in the two games on the road, Cleveland hit Indiana with a 32-17 third quarter that helped the Cavs to a 98-95 victory, and the series edge for the first time.
“I thought the coaching staff, they did a good job of just challenging the guys for the third quarter,” Cavs coach Ty Lue said. “(Assistant coaches) Larry Drew, Mike Longabardi, Phil (Handy), (Damon) Jones, Jim Boylan, just challenging our guys to come out and have a good third quarter, and I thought our guys responded.
“It was great for us. That third quarter got us back in the game.”
Trailing 56-49 at halftime, the Cavaliers opened the third quarter on a 21-4 run.
Most of Cleveland’s third-quarter damage was not surprisingly done by LeBron James, who had another monster effort, hitting a game-winning 3-pointer and scoring 44 points to go along with eight assists and 10 rebounds.
James, who had 20 points by halftime, added 15 more in the third quarter.
“The best thing about the third quarter was that we got stops,” James said. “We held them to 17 points and a lot of them came from the free throw line. We were just trying to change, in some way just change the way we’ve been playing in the third quarter. Obviously, that’s been one of our best third quarters all year. Just trying to put pressure on the defense.”
James did get a little help in the positive third-quarter swing, beginning with Kyle Korver, who scored eight of his 19 points over the 12-minute span.
After a driving layup from James a little over four minutes into the third quarter gave the Cavs their first lead since the eight-minute mark of the second quarter, Korver connected on a 3-pointer that put Cleveland in front 61-59 with 7:48 remaining.
Another three from Korver with 3:58 left in the third put the Cavs up by double digits at 76-66.
“I thought Kyle did a great job of getting us going early in that third quarter,” Lue said.
Jose Calderon, who was in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game, also pitched in with third-quarter offense.
Calderon scored all six of his points in the quarter — both on 3-pointers — connecting for Cleveland’s first field goal to trim Indiana’s lead to 56-54 less than a minute into the second half, then again to put the Cavs in front 73-62 with 4:49 left in the third.
Cleveland led by eight points heading into the final quarter, with Indiana tying it before James’ big 3-pointer.
Lue kept going back to the coaching staff’s halftime message.
“Just saying, ‘Come out and let’s get a good warmup. Let’s not let this third quarter slip away like we have,’” Lue said. “It was just challenging guys. We got out early and got a good warmup and we were able to score 32 points in that third quarter. They did a good job of coming out, getting stops and we were able to play with pace that third quarter.”
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