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Close call: Irving scores 37, Cavs hold on to beat Pacers

CLEVELAND (AP) Blown big leads. Defensive breakdowns. Bad shots. None of it means anything to LeBron James.

The only score that matters is 2-0.

Kyrie Irving scored 37 points, Kevin Love added 27, James had 25 and the Cleveland Cavaliers avoided another fourth-quarter collapse in Game 2, beating the Indiana Pacers 117-111 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

After giving up a late lead and squeaking out the opener by just a point, James and Co. showed more intensity on defense, more swagger in general and held on to win their 10th straight first-round game over the past three seasons.

However, the defending champions, following a pattern that began late in the regular season, nearly gave away an 18-point lead in the fourth as the Pacers crawled within four in the final minute before Cleveland closed it out at the foul line.

Still, James came away encouraged. The Cavs are finding their groove.

''We're right there of what we know can become,'' James said. ''We'll figure it out. I'd much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all. We're right there on turning the switch on what we really can become.''

James added 10 rebounds and seven assists while winning his 19th straight game in the first round. He did have eight of Cleveland's 19 turnovers, miscues that allowed the Pacers to hang around.

Game 3 is Thursday night at Indianapolis.

Paul George scored 32 and Jeff Teague 23 for Indiana, which showed more fight, but now has a steep hill to climb to get back in the series. Cleveland is 12-0 when starting 2-0 in the postseason.

Teague injured his right wrist in the second half and coach Nate McMillan said the starting guard will undergo X-rays.

The Cavs vowed they would play better after their near-disaster in Game 1 and they mostly backed up their talk, delivering the kind of performance that was routine last season but rare in 2017.

In the third quarter, Cleveland took advantage of a mismatch underneath and pounded the ball inside to Love, who 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.

Irving ended the period by draining a 3-pointer over Stephenson and the All-Star made sure Indiana's antagonizing guard knew about it, yapping in his direction long after the horn sounded.

''I thought we lost our composure and got frantic out there,'' McMillan said of his team's third-quarter meltdown. ''We lost our poise and wasn't calm during that third quarter. And that was big.''

The Pacers regrouped, ripped off 13 straight points and were within 113-109 when George hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left.

Now, they're heading home in a hole they still believe they can climb from.

''We know what's at stake,'' C.J. Miles said. ''We're going to go out there, keep trying to give them hell, keep competing and we'll get ourselves a win.''

SMITH INJURED

The other hitch for Cleveland was that starting guard J.R. Smith didn't play in the second half because of a left hamstring injury. Iman Shumpert, who sat out the opener, replaced Smith and played 20 solid minutes.

''Shump was unbelievable,'' coach Tyronn Lue said. ''He came in and made it tough on Paul George and made a couple shots for us also. We needed that spark.''

TEMPER, TEMPER

George was upset that the fiery Stephenson briefly lost his composure.

''He's got to learn to control himself,'' said George, who was critical of Miles for taking the final shot in Game 1. ''He's got to learn to just be in the moment. In our locker room Lance is looked at as one of our leaders. His body language has to improve, just for the team.

''We all know that Lance is an emotional guy. A lot of it is his heart and his competitiveness, that emotion comes out on him. He's just got to channel that and put it towards making effort plays on the court and do whatever he needs for us to succeed.''

TIP-INS

Pacers: Glenn Robinson III returned after missing the past 12 games with a strained left calf. He scored four in nine minutes. ... C Al Jefferson was active, but didn't play. He's been out since March 26 with a sprained left ankle. ... George has made at least one 3-pointer in 19 consecutive playoff games. ... Indiana is 0-9 when dropping the first two games in a series.

Cavaliers: James (357) jumped Magic Johnson (358) for third place in career playoff steals and hopped Robert Parish for eighth in rebounds. ... A moment of silence was observed for Robert Godwin Sr., the 73-year-old tragically killed Sunday in Cleveland by a suspect who shot him and posted the killing on Facebook. ... Stephenson had a strong workout with Cleveland in January before latching on with Indiana, but coach Tyronn Lue said his recent injuries dissuaded the Cavs from signing him.

UP NEXT

The Pacers went 29-19 at home.

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Key Players
P. George
13 SF
L. James
23 SF
37.6 Min. Per Game 37.6
26.7 Pts. Per Game 26.7
8.3 Ast. Per Game 8.3
8.8 Reb. Per Game 8.8
47.2 Field Goal % 53.2
44.3 Three Point % 48.5
89.5 Free Throw % 67.5
+ 2 Lance Stephenson made layup 0:09
+ 2 Lance Stephenson made layup 0:09
+ 1 Kyrie Irving made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:15
+ 1 Kyrie Irving made 1st of 2 free throws 0:15
  Personal foul on Lance Stephenson 0:15
  Turnover on C.J. Miles 0:18
  Turnover on C.J. Miles 0:18
  Offensive foul on C.J. Miles 0:18
  Offensive foul on C.J. Miles 0:18
  20-second timeout called 0:18
+ 1 Kevin Love made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:18
Team Stats
Points 111 117
Field Goals 43-84 (51.2%) 42-76 (55.3%)
3-Pointers 8-20 (40.0%) 13-31 (41.9%)
Free Throws 17-23 (73.9%) 20-23 (87.0%)
Total Rebounds 40 44
Offensive 9 7
Defensive 24 30
Team 7 7
Assists 23 19
Steals 14 6
Blocks 3 8
Turnovers 13 18
Fouls 21 16
Technicals 1 1
away team logo
P. George SF 13
32 PTS, 8 REB, 7 AST
home team logo
L. James SF 23
25 PTS, 10 REB, 7 AST
1234T
away team logo7 Pacers 0-2 29292033111
home team logo2 Cavaliers 2-032313321117
Team Stats
away team logoPacers 0-2 108.4 PPG 42.9 RPG 23.3 APG
home team logoCavaliers 2-0 110.6 PPG 43.3 RPG 21.8 APG
Key Players
P. George SF PPG RPG APG FG%
K. Irving PG PPG RPG APG FG%
Top Scorers
P. George SF 32 PTS 8 REB 7 AST
K. Irving PG 37 PTS 2 REB 2 AST
51.2 FG% 55.3
40.0 3PT FG% 41.9
73.9 FT% 87.0
Pacers
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
P. George 41 32 8 7 1 0 4 3 10/20 4/10 8/9 1 7 51 -7
J. Teague 35 23 4 4 1 0 3 3 8/12 2/3 5/5 0 4 33 -4
T. Young 33 16 3 1 6 0 0 4 7/11 0/0 2/6 3 0 27 -4
M. Turner 36 6 5 2 1 3 1 2 3/10 0/1 0/0 1 4 18 -2
M. Ellis 24 2 2 3 1 0 1 0 1/4 0/1 0/0 1 1 10 -4
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
P. George 41 32 8 7 1 0 4 3 10/20 4/10 8/9 1 7 51 -7
J. Teague 35 23 4 4 1 0 3 3 8/12 2/3 5/5 0 4 33 -4
T. Young 33 16 3 1 6 0 0 4 7/11 0/0 2/6 3 0 27 -4
M. Turner 36 6 5 2 1 3 1 2 3/10 0/1 0/0 1 4 18 -2
M. Ellis 24 2 2 3 1 0 1 0 1/4 0/1 0/0 1 1 10 -4
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
L. Stephenson 26 13 2 4 2 0 0 4 6/13 0/0 1/1 1 1 25 -3
C. Miles 16 9 2 1 2 0 2 4 4/7 1/4 0/0 1 1 13 -3
K. Seraphin 11 6 4 1 0 0 2 1 3/6 0/0 0/0 1 3 10 -4
G. Robinson III 9 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 1/1 1/1 1/2 0 2 6 -5
L. Allen 5 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 1 +6
A. Brooks - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Young - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Christmas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Niang - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Jefferson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 236 111 33 23 14 3 13 21 43/84 8/20 17/23 9 24 194 -30
Cavaliers
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Irving 34 37 2 2 1 0 4 4 14/24 4/10 5/5 0 2 40 0
K. Love 38 27 11 3 0 1 2 4 6/7 3/4 12/12 1 10 43 +17
L. James 42 25 10 7 4 4 8 2 11/20 0/2 3/6 0 10 49 +6
T. Thompson 32 4 10 1 0 2 3 1 2/5 0/0 0/0 5 5 15 -4
J. Smith 18 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 1/3 1/2 0/0 0 0 2 -4
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Irving 34 37 2 2 1 0 4 4 14/24 4/10 5/5 0 2 40 0
K. Love 38 27 11 3 0 1 2 4 6/7 3/4 12/12 1 10 43 +17
L. James 42 25 10 7 4 4 8 2 11/20 0/2 3/6 0 10 49 +6
T. Thompson 32 4 10 1 0 2 3 1 2/5 0/0 0/0 5 5 15 -4
J. Smith 18 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 1/3 1/2 0/0 0 0 2 -4
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
De. Williams 16 9 0 2 0 0 0 1 3/4 3/4 0/0 0 0 13 +4
I. Shumpert 19 5 0 0 1 0 0 3 2/3 1/2 0/0 0 0 6 +2
C. Frye 13 3 2 1 0 1 0 0 1/4 1/3 0/0 0 2 8 0
R. Jefferson 10 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 1/2 0/1 0/0 1 0 5 -1
K. Korver 14 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 1/4 0/3 0/0 0 1 7 +10
De. Williams - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Felder - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Tavares - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Jones - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Jones - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 236 117 37 19 6 8 18 16 42/76 13/31 20/23 7 30 188 +30