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7th heaven: LeBron carries Cavaliers past Pacers in Game 7

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James wasn't ready to go home or to Philadelphia or Los Angeles.

He's heading to Toronto, bringing a Cavaliers team that isn't done yet.

Unwilling to sit despite battling leg cramps in the second half, James scored 45 points and got some much-needed help from his teammates in Game 7 to stay unbeaten in the opening round of the NBA playoffs, leading the Cavaliers to a 105-101 win on Sunday over the Indiana Pacers, who pushed the game's best player to the breaking point.

Following the game, an exhausted James said the series took a physical toll.

''I'm burnt right now,'' he said. ''I'm not thinking about Toronto right now until tomorrow. I'm ready to go home. Can we? I'm tired. I want to go home.''

James added nine rebounds, seven assists and played over 43 minutes while improving to 13-0 in the first round. He kept Cleveland's strange season alive - for the time being - but it took everything the 33-year-old and the Cavs had to hold off the Pacers, who came in confident after a 34-point win in Game 6.

But James, who at times seemed to be playing the Pacers by himself in the series, pulled the Cavs back from the brink of elimination and at least delayed any more talk about impending free agency.

''Amazing,'' Indiana's Victor Oladipo said of James. ''He did what he always does. It's not really shocking. He's the best in the world, and that's what the best does and now I gotta work to get on that level.''

The Cavs will open the conference semifinals on Tuesday at top-seeded Toronto.

Early in the game, James looked at agent Rich Paul sitting courtside and told him he wasn't coming out. James then played the first 35 minutes before heading to the locker room with one minute left in the third to be treated for what he said was ''a little minor injury.'' James said he was urged to get IV fluids but turned them down.

Nothing was going to keep James off the floor in what some Cleveland fans feared could have been his last game with the franchise.

He fought through the fatigue. He had no choice.

''It felt like a Game 7,'' he said. ''It was like, your mind is thinking like, `OK, besides the two I played in the Finals, you start thinking like, is this it? Could this be it?' That's just human nature. And then the other side of my brain was like, `Let's go make something happen. Let's go, that's what you here for. You're here to make plays, you're the leader.'''

The Cavs got a huge lift from Tristan Thompson, who played just 24 minutes in the first six games but made a rare start as Cavs coach Tyronn Lue used his 34th different starting lineup this season. Thompson added 15 points and 10 rebounds, Kevin Love made four 3-pointers, and George Hill returned after missing three games with back spasms to score 11 in 19 second-half minutes.

''Five guys in double figures,'' said Lue, who has taken heat for some decisions in the series. ''But I'm just happy Tristan, because he's been here with us for so long and been through all of the things we've been through over the course of the last four years, and to step in and play the way he did, I'm just so happy for him.''

Oladipo scored 30 and Darren Collison had 23 for the Pacers, who were still within four in the final minute before a cutting James scored on a bullet pass from Kyle Korver with 30 seconds left.

''Best receiver in the NBA,'' Korver said of James. ''Just got to put it up there for him.''

Oladipo hit a 3 at the horn and was immediately embraced by James, who had never played a first-round Game 7 and was in jeopardy of seeing an eighth trip to the Finals end quickly.

''Honestly, I think we were the better team, and they had the best player in the world,'' Pacers forward Trevor Booker said.

It was the first Game 7 in Quicken Loans Arena history, and Cleveland fans were on edge from the start.

A loss would not only have ended the Cavs' season earlier than expected and their reign as three-time conference champs, but it would have pushed James closer to free agency. He's expected to opt out of his contract in July to test the market, and there's already a line of teams stretching from Philly to L.A. looking to sign the three-time champion.

His stay in Cleveland isn't quite complete.

TRUST FACTOR

After the Cavs were rocked in Game 6, Lue knew he needed to shake things up, so he started players he trusts most. Korver got the nod along with James, Love, Smith and Thompson - the four holdovers from the three Finals teams.

''I just think in Game 7, go with the guys who've been here, who've been through it all and know what it takes,'' Lue said.

PROUD PACERS

Despite the loss, the Pacers felt great about their season.

''If y'all don't respect the Indiana Pacers now, I have no respect for you,'' Oladipo said. ''Nobody thought we would be here.''

Lance Stephenson, an eight-year pro in his second tour with Indiana, was especially impressed with the team's young players.

''This team was amazing,'' he said. ''We brought it every night. There was no drama all season and everybody kept a positive attitude at all times. The future is bright.''

TIP-INS

Pacers: Both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis fouled out. ... Stephenson picked up his second technical of the series when he hit James in the head on a first-quarter drive. ... Dropped to 3-6 in Game 7s, with all of the losses coming on the road.

Cavaliers: James won his fifth straight Game 7. ... By picking off a pass midway through the second quarter, James became the career playoff leader in steals. He entered the game tied with Scottie Pippen (395) for the most postseason thefts. ... Celebrated the 42nd anniversary of the ''Miracle at Richfield'' in 1976, when the Cavs defeated the Washington Bullets in Game 7 of the conference semifinals. Cleveland's fans stormed the court and tore down both baskets.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Head into an offseason with optimism after their strong showing.

Cavaliers: Will meet the Raptors for the third straight postseason.

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1st Quarter

Time Team Play Score
12:00   Jumpball  
11:43   Kicked ball violation  
11:37   Kevin Love missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:33   Defensive rebound by Victor Oladipo  
11:14   Victor Oladipo missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:09   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
10:53   J.R. Smith missed floating jump shot  
10:51   Defensive rebound by Victor Oladipo  
10:46   Bojan Bogdanovic missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:43   Defensive rebound by Kyle Korver  
10:35 +2 LeBron James made driving layup 0-2
10:17   Shooting foul on Kevin Love  
10:17 +1 Darren Collison made 1st of 2 free throws 1-2
10:17 +1 Darren Collison made 2nd of 2 free throws 2-2
10:02   Kevin Love missed hook shot  
10:00   Defensive rebound by Thaddeus Young  
9:49   Darren Collison missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:44   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
9:27   Personal foul on Victor Oladipo  
9:17   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:14   Offensive rebound by Kevin Love  
9:10   Kevin Love missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:06   Offensive rebound by J.R. Smith  
9:04   Kyle Korver missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:01   Defensive rebound by Myles Turner  
9:01   Out of bounds turnover on Darren Collison  
8:45 +2 LeBron James made driving layup 2-4
8:29   Victor Oladipo missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:25   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
8:13 +2 Tristan Thompson made hook shot, assist by LeBron James 2-6
7:59   Bojan Bogdanovic missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:55   Defensive rebound by Kevin Love  
7:51   Kicked ball violation  
7:43 +3 Kevin Love made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Kyle Korver 2-9
7:33   Victor Oladipo missed jump shot  
7:30   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
7:18   Kyle Korver missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:15   Defensive rebound by Thaddeus Young  
7:12   Personal foul on Kyle Korver  
7:05 +3 Darren Collison made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Victor Oladipo 5-9
6:43   Kyle Korver missed turnaround jump shot  
6:41   Defensive rebound by Myles Turner  
6:32 +2 Thaddeus Young made layup, assist by Victor Oladipo 7-9
6:15 +3 J.R. Smith made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Kevin Love 7-12
5:57   Victor Oladipo missed driving layup  
5:55   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
5:53   Personal foul on Bojan Bogdanovic  
5:38   Kevin Love missed hook shot  
5:37   Offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
5:37   Shooting foul on Myles Turner  
5:37 +1 Tristan Thompson made 1st of 2 free throws 7-13
5:37 +1 Tristan Thompson made 2nd of 2 free throws 7-14
5:26   Offensive foul on Thaddeus Young  
5:26   Offensive foul on Thaddeus Young  
5:07 +2 Tristan Thompson made layup, assist by J.R. Smith 7-16
4:43 +2 Thaddeus Young made floating jump shot 9-16
4:30   Kyle Korver missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:28   Offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
4:23 +3 Kyle Korver made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Tristan Thompson 9-19
4:05   Personal foul on Kyle Korver  
3:54 +2 Darren Collison made jump shot 11-19
3:37   Personal foul on Darren Collison  
3:27 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 11-21
3:14 +3 Lance Stephenson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Thaddeus Young 14-21
3:02   Personal foul on Lance Stephenson  
3:02   Unsportsmanlike technical foul  
3:02 +1 LeBron James made free throw 14-22
3:02 +1 LeBron James made 1st of 2 free throws 14-23
3:02 +1 LeBron James made 2nd of 2 free throws 14-24
2:45   Bad pass turnover on Thaddeus Young, stolen by Jeff Green  
2:33 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 14-26
2:08 +2 Domantas Sabonis made layup, assist by Cory Joseph 16-26
1:58   Personal foul on Lance Stephenson  
1:58 +1 Jeff Green made 1st of 2 free throws 16-27
1:58   Jeff Green missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
1:56   Defensive rebound by Domantas Sabonis  
1:37   Traveling violation turnover on Cory Joseph  
1:25 +2 Jeff Green made alley-oop shot, assist by LeBron James 16-29
1:14   Personal foul on Tristan Thompson  
1:01 +3 Lance Stephenson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Bojan Bogdanovic 19-29
0:40   Jeff Green missed turnaround jump shot  
0:38   Defensive rebound by Lance Stephenson  
0:31   Kicked ball violation  
0:23   Lance Stephenson missed jump shot  
0:20   Defensive rebound by Rodney Hood  
0:00 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 19-31
0:00   End of period  

2nd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:41   Domantas Sabonis missed hook shot  
11:39   Offensive rebound by Trevor Booker  
11:37 +2 Trevor Booker made dunk 21-31
11:17 +2 LeBron James made floating jump shot 21-33
10:57   Personal foul on LeBron James  
10:44   Out of bounds turnover on Bojan Bogdanovic  
10:28   Larry Nance Jr. missed jump shot  
10:25   Defensive rebound by Trevor Booker  
10:18   Cory Joseph missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:14   Defensive rebound by Larry Nance Jr.  
10:09 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 21-35
9:35   Bojan Bogdanovic missed jump shot  
9:32   Defensive rebound by Larry Nance Jr.  
9:26   Personal foul on Bojan Bogdanovic  
9:19   Jeff Green missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:16   Defensive rebound by Victor Oladipo  
9:10   Kicked ball violation  
9:00 +3 Victor Oladipo made 3-pt. jump shot 24-35
8:41   Jordan Clarkson missed jump shot  
8:39   Defensive rebound by Domantas Sabonis  
8:26 +3 Cory Joseph made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Victor Oladipo 27-35
7:59   Larry Nance Jr. missed hook shot  
7:59   Team rebound  
7:36 +2 Darren Collison made driving layup 29-35
7:15   Jordan Clarkson missed floating jump shot  
7:13   Defensive rebound by Cory Joseph  
6:58   Domantas Sabonis missed floating jump shot  
6:56   Offensive rebound by Domantas Sabonis  
6:54   Shooting foul on Rodney Hood  
6:54 +1 Darren Collison made 1st of 2 free throws 30-35
6:54 +1 Darren Collison made 2nd of 2 free throws 31-35
6:35 +2 Tristan Thompson made layup, assist by LeBron James 31-37
6:28   Lost ball turnover on Darren Collison, stolen by LeBron James  
6:21   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:19   Offensive rebound by LeBron James  
6:17   LeBron James missed dunk  
6:17   Defensive rebound by Victor Oladipo  
6:08 +2 Domantas Sabonis made jump shot, assist by Darren Collison 33-37
5:42 +3 Kevin Love made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by LeBron James 33-40
5:28   Domantas Sabonis missed jump shot  
5:27   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
5:11 +2 Tristan Thompson made layup, assist by LeBron James 33-42
4:57 +2 Victor Oladipo made driving layup 35-42
4:34 +2 LeBron James made layup 35-44
4:26 +2 Lance Stephenson made driving layup 37-44
4:09 +2 LeBron James made driving layup, assist by Kevin Love 37-46
3:51   Lance Stephenson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:47   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
3:40   LeBron James missed layup  
3:40 +2 LeBron James made dunk 37-48
3:40   Offensive rebound by LeBron James  
3:40   Shooting foul on Domantas Sabonis  
3:40 +1 LeBron James made free throw 37-49
3:31   Personal foul on J.R. Smith  
3:28   Traveling violation turnover on Victor Oladipo  
3:08 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 37-51
2:45 +2 Darren Collison made jump shot 39-51
2:19   LeBron James missed jump shot  
2:16   Defensive rebound by Victor Oladipo  
2:05 +2 Darren Collison made jump shot 41-51
1:53   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:51   Offensive rebound by Kevin Love  
1:51   Kevin Love missed dunk  
1:51   Offensive rebound by Kevin Love  
1:51   Personal foul on Myles Turner  
1:40   Kyle Korver missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:37   Offensive rebound by J.R. Smith  
1:35 +3 J.R. Smith made 3-pt. jump shot 41-54
1:18   Lost ball turnover on Bojan Bogdanovic, stolen by LeBron James  
1:06   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:04   Offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
0:42   LeBron James missed jump shot  
0:40   Offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
0:39   Lost ball turnover on Tristan Thompson, stolen by Victor Oladipo  
0:30   Shooting foul on Kevin Love  
0:30   Team rebound  
0:30   Victor Oladipo missed 1st of 2 free throws  
0:30   Victor Oladipo missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
0:27   Defensive rebound by Kyle Korver  
0:08   LeBron James missed driving layup  
0:06   Defensive rebound by Victor Oladipo  
0:04 +2 Darren Collison made layup, assist by Victor Oladipo 43-54
0:02   Jeff Green missed floating jump shot  
0:01   Offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  

3rd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:49   Myles Turner missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:46   Defensive rebound by Kyle Korver  
11:33   Kyle Korver missed jump shot  
11:33   Team rebound  
11:33   Personal foul on Myles Turner  
11:21   Shooting foul on Darren Collison  
11:21 +1 Tristan Thompson made 1st of 2 free throws 43-55
11:21 +1 Tristan Thompson made 2nd of 2 free throws 43-56
11:12 +2 Darren Collison made driving layup 45-56
11:12   Defensive goaltending violation  
10:57   Lost ball turnover on Kyle Korver, stolen by Darren Collison  
10:46   Kicked ball violation  
10:37   Thaddeus Young missed layup  
10:31   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
10:23   Offensive foul on Kevin Love  
10:23   Offensive foul on Kevin Love  
10:23   Delay of game violation  
10:05 +2 Myles Turner made jump shot, assist by Thaddeus Young 47-56
9:39   LeBron James missed jump shot  
9:37   Defensive rebound by Thaddeus Young  
9:35   Shooting foul on J.R. Smith  
9:35 +1 Victor Oladipo made 1st of 2 free throws 48-56
9:35 +1 Victor Oladipo made 2nd of 2 free throws 49-56
9:18   LeBron James missed jump shot  
9:14   Defensive rebound by Victor Oladipo  
9:11 +3 Victor Oladipo made 3-pt. jump shot 52-56
8:51 +2 Tristan Thompson made layup, assist by LeBron James 52-58
8:36   Bojan Bogdanovic missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:31   Defensive rebound by Kevin Love  
8:25   Lost ball turnover on LeBron James, stolen by Victor Oladipo  
8:23   Bojan Bogdanovic missed jump shot, blocked by J.R. Smith  
8:17   Offensive rebound by Thaddeus Young  
8:17   Thaddeus Young missed dunk  
8:17   Offensive rebound by Thaddeus Young  
8:17   Shooting foul on Tristan Thompson  
8:17   Team rebound  
8:17   Thaddeus Young missed 1st of 2 free throws  
8:17 +1 Thaddeus Young made 2nd of 2 free throws 53-58
8:09   Personal foul on Thaddeus Young  
7:52   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:50   Defensive rebound by Darren Collison  
7:38 +3 Thaddeus Young made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Bojan Bogdanovic 56-58
7:17   Lost ball turnover on J.R. Smith, stolen by Victor Oladipo  
7:13 +3 Bojan Bogdanovic made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Victor Oladipo 59-58
7:12   Full timeout called  
6:58   Backcourt turnover on George Hill  
6:44   Thaddeus Young missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:39   Offensive rebound by Myles Turner  
6:38   Personal foul on Kevin Love  
6:38 +1 Victor Oladipo made 1st of 2 free throws 60-58
6:38 +1 Victor Oladipo made 2nd of 2 free throws 61-58
6:16 +3 J.R. Smith made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by LeBron James 61-61
5:52   Personal foul on J.R. Smith  
5:40   Victor Oladipo missed driving layup  
5:37   Defensive rebound by J.R. Smith  
5:29   Shooting foul on Myles Turner  
5:29   Team rebound  
5:29   LeBron James missed 1st of 2 free throws  
5:29 +1 LeBron James made 2nd of 2 free throws 61-62
5:13   Victor Oladipo missed driving dunk, blocked by Jeff Green  
5:13   Team rebound  
5:07   Personal foul on Darren Collison  
5:07   Unsportsmanlike technical foul  
5:07   LeBron James missed free throw  
5:07   Team rebound  
5:07 +1 George Hill made 1st of 2 free throws 61-63
5:07 +1 George Hill made 2nd of 2 free throws 61-64
4:37 +3 Victor Oladipo made 3-pt. jump shot 64-64
4:22 +2 LeBron James made dunk, assist by George Hill 64-66
3:55   Domantas Sabonis missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:51   Defensive rebound by George Hill  
3:36 +3 LeBron James made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by J.R. Smith 64-69
3:22 +2 Victor Oladipo made driving layup 66-69
3:03   George Hill missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:59   Defensive rebound by Victor Oladipo  
2:52 +2 Victor Oladipo made floating jump shot 68-69
2:34   Traveling violation turnover on Tristan Thompson  
2:25   Darren Collison missed jump shot  
2:23   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
2:23   Personal foul on Domantas Sabonis  
2:23 +1 LeBron James made 1st of 2 free throws 68-70
2:23 +1 LeBron James made 2nd of 2 free throws 68-71
2:12 +2 Thaddeus Young made reverse layup, assist by Victor Oladipo 70-71
1:46 +3 LeBron James made 3-pt. jump shot 70-74
1:38   Lost ball turnover on Victor Oladipo, stolen by Tristan Thompson  
1:35   Lost ball turnover on LeBron James, stolen by Thaddeus Young  
1:31 +2 Thaddeus Young made driving dunk 72-74
1:17   Personal foul on Bojan Bogdanovic  
1:17   LeBron James missed 1st of 2 free throws  
1:17