Though prodded to do so, LeBron James was not about to post fingers after the Cleveland Cavaliers found a way to kick away a 17-point halftime advantage and fall to the Indiana Pacers, 92-90, in Game 3 of their first-round series.
Questioned about the lack of scoring help from his teammates, James took the high road as the Cavaliers now trail in the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
“What are you guys looking for, you guys think I’m going to throw my teammates under the bus? I’m not about that,” James said after he and his teammates fell to the Pacers in a game the Cavaliers led at halftime, 47-30.
“Guys just… we have to be better, including myself,” he continued. “Had six turnovers tonight. I was horrible in the third quarter, couldn’t make a shot. If I had made some better plays in the third quarter, the lead doesn’t slip.”
It did, though, and despite 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists on 10-of-22 shooting by James, Cleveland will need to win three of the next four games in order to move on to simply advance to the second round and attempt to win a fourth consecutive Eastern Conference crown.
The second half was disastrous for the Cavaliers, especially the third quarter. James, as he pointed out, made only one of the six shots he took and Indiana whittled the 17-point deficit to only six entering the fourth quarter, 69-63.
Kevin Love, who accounted for 16 points in Cleveland’s impressive first half, somehow managed to take only two shots in the entire second half, one of which came on an impressive offensive rebound and corner 3-pointer to bring the Cavaliers to within one at 91-90 with 7.6 seconds to play.
Former Pacer George Hill scored 13 points, all in the first half. No other Cleveland player reached double figures, which is a trend — the Cavaliers have not had more than three players score 10 or more points in all the games played, so far.
“We know we all gotta play better as a collective group, no matter who it is,” James said. “We got production today to start the game, and in the second half, there wasn’t much production.
“We still had a chance to win.”
There wasn’t much else to highlight for the Cavaliers. Jeff Green had six points, which boosted his series total to eight. J.R. Smith made only three of the 11 shots he took. Jordan Clarkson scored only two points, increasing his three-game total to 10. For the second time in three games, Kyle Korver took a zero in the scoring column.
Still, James is not discouraged and stressed there is a lot of basketball yet to be played in this series.
“There’s a lot of game left to be played,” James said. “We haven’t play as well as we would’ve liked to have played as a team in this series so far, even with the Game 2 victory. We’ve got to regroup and figure out how we can be better in Game 4.”