Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
Sport | By Scott Davis

Irving scores 37, Cavs hold on to beat Pacers 117-111

Irving scores 37, Cavs hold on to beat Pacers 117-111

There are so many stats in which they are super-sub-par: They finished the season with the league's worst transition defense, the fewest steals per possession, the 25th-most blocked shots, the ninth-worst defensive rebound rate.

That's Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, guarded by Jeff Teague and Paul George.

So, from that, and the fact that they have a 2-0 series lead, you'd figure they don't have much to worry about.

The Cavaliers gave up a 112 defensive rating, but still won 117-111 in Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead on the Indiana Pacers in their best-of-7 series Monday night. It was also the first time three Cleveland teammates all scored 25 or more in a playoff game.

Maybe George was thinking about the heartbreaking finish to Game 1 on Saturday, when, after the Pacers pulled within a point of the Cavs, C.J. Miles clanked a mid-range jumper and Cleveland escaped with a victory. "His number was called right away (in the third quarter) and he had to be ready", James said.

That's the next step in the Cavs' process, finding a way to play a complete game. Defensively, we just didn't play that right.

But the Cavs put the home fans through the ringer in a nervy finale as the Pacers punished a litany of mistakes to cut the gap to four points with 18 seconds remaining. We all know that Lance is an emotional guy.

James added 10 rebounds and seven assists while winning his 19th straight game in the first round.

James committed eight of the Cavs' 19 turnovers.

The series will now shift back to IN for Game 3, as Cleveland carries along the same problems that plagued them all season long.

Twenty-one bench points. That was all the 10-man reserve squad of Cleveland could muster after the starters combined for 96.

"To have J.R. go out like that, come out at halftime, it was a big switch", said Irving, who has a conversation with Shumpert before the second half.

Love scored 10 straight and drew a charging foul on Lance Stephenson in a span of two minutes as the Cavs opened an 89-70 lead.

"We're not doing anything aggressively right now", Pacers coach Nate McMillan said postgame.

"He came in and made it tough on Paul George, and we held Paul George to four points in that third quarter, where our defense was really good. And that was big". George then missed a pair of 3-point attempts, Turner had a layup blocked by James, and the Cavaliers hit their free throws to keep their distance. Power forward Thaddeus Young can't play 48 minutes. "We understand that, but we've got to be smart also".

This was Shumpert's playoff nightmare, and the demotion stung as he had never sat out a game before in his six-year career when healthy and in uniform.

Game three is in Memphis on Thursday (Friday AEST).

"This team has character, besides the talent and the desire to win", Spurs center Pau Gasol said. "We responded well when they made their run, and that's the mindset we have to have every night". Not a single other player took a free throw for the Cavs. "If they don't let me play, then I won't". They're not going to want to get burned by that. That's unacceptable, that was unprofessional.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving, right, drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner (33) in the first half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 17, 2017, in Cleveland. Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph accounted for 21 points.

San Antonio had a better start than in Game 1.

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