Cavs Earn Sweep Into 2nd Round; Other NBA News
(AP) — LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are the first team to reach the second round of the current NBA playoffs after taking four straight from Indiana.
James nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:08 remaining before the Cavs held on to top the Pacers, 106-102 at Indiana. The Cavaliers squandered a 96-83 lead in the fourth quarter and trailed 102-100 before James hit his only trey of the game. He finished with 33 points in helping the Cavs become the first team to sweep a four-game series from the Pacers.
James is the first player under the current playoff format to win 21 straight first-round games. He also set a league record with his 10th career playoff sweep.
Kyrie Irving added 28 points for the Cavaliers, who will host either Milwaukee or Toronto in the next round.
Lance Stephenson scored 22 points and Paul George added 15 but missed a late 3-pointer that could have forced overtime.
In other first-round NBA action:
— Isaiah Thomas poured in 33 points and the Celtics tied their series at two games apiece by getting past the Bulls, 104-95 in Chicago. Boston blew a 20-point lead and trailed 65-63 before Thomas delivered 10 points during a 12-0 run that put them ahead to stay. Gerald Green hit four 3-pointers and had 18 points to help the Celtics overcome Jimmy Butler's 33 points. The road team has won all four games in the series, which bodes well for the Bulls heading into Game 5 on Wednesday in Boston.
— Nene was unstoppable in Houston's 113-109 win at Oklahoma City, scoring 28 points on 12 of 12 shooting and contributing 10 rebounds to help the Rockets take a 3-1 series lead. Nene allowed the Rockets to overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 from the field. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The Rockets can wrap up the series on Tuesday.
— Joe Johnson was the star in Utah's 105-98 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, scoring 28 points to help the Jazz even the series at two games apiece. Johnson scored 11 straight Jazz points during a crucial stretch in the fourth quarter, including a pull-up jumper for a 91-90 lead with 3:55 remaining. Rudy Gobert added 15 points and grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds for the Jazz. Chris Paul had 27 points and 12 assists for the Clippers, who host Game 5 on Tuesday.
Around the NBA:
— Warriors coach Steve Kerr says he won't be on the sidelines for Game 4 on Monday at Portland. Kerr stayed behind at the team hotel Saturday as Mike Brown guided Golden State to a 119-113 win. Kerr is still experiencing lingering symptoms from complications following two back surgeries.
— Jusuf Nurkic won't play for the Trail Blazers in Game 4 Monday versus the Warriors as he continues to recover from a non-displaced fracture in his right leg. He played in Saturday's loss to Golden State but reported soreness after scoring two points and grabbing 11 rebounds in under 17 minutes.
— The NBA has fined Bulls guard Rajon Rondo $25,000 for attempting to trip Celtics forward Jae Crowder from the bench in Game 3 of their first-round series. The league also fined Rockets guard Patrick Beverley $25,000 for confronting a fan after Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.