Exhausted LeBron James carries Cavs past Pacers - Taipei Times
Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Exhausted LeBron James carries Cavs past Pacers

AP, CLEVELAND, Ohio

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, top, drives to the basket against Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of their NBA playoff series in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday.

Photo: AP

LeBron James was not ready to go home, or to Philadelphia or Los Angeles.

He is heading to Toronto, bringing a Cavaliers team that is not done yet.

Unwilling to sit despite battling leg cramps in the second half, James on Sunday 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 over the Indiana Pacers, who pushed the game’s best player to 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 more than 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.

However, 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 open the semi-finals today at top-seeded Toronto.

James 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,” James 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’re 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, while Kevin Love made four three-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, but I’m just happy [for] 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,” Lue said.

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

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

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