CLEVELAND--The Cavaliers needed a spark and they got it in an expected way--and an unexpected way.
The Cavs had a big night from the 'Big 3' as they combined for 89 points with Kyrie Irving hitting for 37, Kevin Love for 27 and LeBron James for 25.
J.R. Smith injured his hamstring before halftime and Iman Shumpert made his first appearance of the playoffs to start the second half in his place. Shumpert took over the defensive duties of guarding Paul George and then made a three-point shot in his first attempt of the playoffs. But Shumpert held George to just 14 points in the second half, including keeping him under 10 for most of the half. Shumpert brought the crowd to their feet when he stripped the ball from George and dove on the floor to get the ball. George led the Pacers with 32 points, but had 18 in the first half.
"We needed it," James said. "J.R. went out with an injury and for him to be ready and step in and do what he did with Paul George. That was big."
Tyronn Lue was impressed.
"Shump was unbelievable," Lue said. "He stayed ready and he gave us energy and sparked us."
Shumpert played all 12 minutes of the third quarter after not playing in the first six quarters of the series.
The Cavaliers went on to take a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series with a 117-111 win over the Indiana Pacers in front of a sold out crowd of 20,562 fans at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavs led 32-29 after the first quarter and then scored the first eight points of the second quarter to take a 40-29 lead. They extended their lead to as much as 13 points in the second quarter at 56-43 when Love hit a three-point shot from the corner.
However, the Cavs 13-point lead was whittled down to just five at the half, 63-58. The Cavs started the second half with a 7-0 run to take a 70-58 lead as Shumpert hit a trey in his first shot of the playoffs.
Shumpert's defense and the play of Love ignited the Cavs in the last three minutes of the third quarter as the Cavs built a 89-70 lead with 2:02 left in the quarter as Love hit two free throws to finish a streak of play that included a field goal, six-straight free throws and a drawing a charge to go with a couple of rebounds. To top off the quarter, Irving hit a three to end the period to give the Cavs an 18-point lead at 96-78. The Cavs out scored the Pacers, 33-20 in the quarter. Love scored 10 points in the third quarter.
"We played good defense in the third quarter," Lue said. "That was big for us."
James said the play of Love in the third quarter was huge in the win.
"We tried to get Kevin the ball," James said. "He was aggressive and we needed that."
Despite the big lead, the Pacers came roaring back with a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter to cut the Cavs lead to 11 with 10:08 to play. During a four minute scoreless drought by the Cavs, the pacers cut the lead to 111-106 when George hit two free throws with 1:47 to play. George hit a trey with 18.1 seconds to play to make it 113-109.
"We competed,"James said. "We played hard. We've had a chance to do something special in this series, but we've had some careless turnovers."
Big Love: Kevin Love was 6-of-7 from the field and was 12-12 from the free throw line for 27 points and 11 rebounds. Love was 3-of-4 from three-point range. Love scored 10 points in the third quarter.
No. 2: Kyrie Irving became the second-leading scorer in Cavs playoff history with 833 points passing Mark Price for second place. LeBron James is first with 3,289 points. Irving had 37 points and was 4-of-6 from three-point range and 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
Blowing the Lead: The Cavs gave up a 19-point lead and the Pacers were able to cut the deficit to just four points with 18 seconds to play.
"We have to take care of the basketball," Lue said. "19 turnovers for 24 points."
Much Better FT: The Cavs were 20-of-23 for 89.0 percent from the free throw line after shooting barely over 50 percent in the first game. Kevin Love was 12-of-12 while Kyrie Irving was 5-of-5.
J.R Hurt: J.R. Smith went to the locker room limping with a hamstring injury and did not return. His status for Game 3 is unknown.
Shump Up: Iman Shumpert started the second half in place of J.R. Smith and hit his first shot from three-point range. Shumpert did not play in Game One and did not play in the first half. Shumpert made his first two shots before he missed. He scored five points, but played good defense on Paul George for most of the second half.
D-Will: Deron Williams hit his first three three-point attempts in the second quarter and finished with nine points.
Careless with the Ball: The Cavs turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and finished the game with 18 turnovers to just 19 assists. LeBron James led the Cavs with seven assists.
3 Ball: The Cavs shot 41.9 percent from three-point range on 13-of-31 shooting. Kyrie Irving was 4-of-6, while Kevin Love and Deron Williams were each 3-of-4.
Next Up: Game 3 of the best of seven series will be Thursday night in Indianapolis at 7:00 pm.