It was a tale of two halves.
It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.
The Cavaliers had a colossal comeback as they came from 26 points down to prevail 119-114 in stunning fashion in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference first round to take a commanding 3-0 lead over the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. No team has ever lost a best-of-seven series in the NBA playoffs when leading 3-0.
The Pacers led by as much as 26 points in the first half and led by 25, 74-49 at halftime With the win, the Cavs have a chance to close out the series in Game 4 in Indianapolis on Sunday at 1 pm.
The Cavs comeback victory was the largest halftime come-from-behind win in NBA playoff history.
"Our team just kept fighting," Tyronn Lue said. "We took the defensive challenge in the second half, holding them to just 40 points.
"We were just too cool at the beginning of the game," he said. "We played with more intensity in the second half."
Channing Frye was impressed with what LeBron James did.
"What LeBron just did was unbelievable," Frye said.
James finished with a triple-double with 41 points, 12 assists and 13 rebounds to pace the Cavs. James hit six treys.
The Cavs out scored the Pacers, 70-40 in the second half, in turning a 25-point deficit into a five-point win.
It was all on the defensive side of the ball, as the Cavs gave up 37 points in both the first and second quarters. They trailed 37-27 after the first quarter. It was the most points the Cavs have given up in a playoff game in franchise history. In the second half, the Cavs held Indiana to just 17 points in the third quarter and 23 in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers saw firsthand in the regular season how a team can overcome a big deficit. On April 9, the Cavs held a 26-point lead in the fourth quarter over the Atlanta Hawks and ended up losing in overtime.
"It took us two quarters," Lue said. "I'd never seen a team do it in one quarter (like Atlanta did)."
Trailing by 25 points at the half, the Cavs out scored Indiana by 18 points in the third quarter, 35-17 to get back in the game at 91-84 after three periods thanks to a 13-3 run to start the period.
Kyle Korver hit a trey with 9:28 left in the game to make it 96-91. Channing Frye was fouled on a three attempt at 8:59 to cut the lead to two points at 96-94. A James dunk tied the game at 98 and then a James steal and dunk gave the Cavs their first lead since the opening moments of the game.
Frye hit three to give the Cavs the lead for good at 103-101 with 5:28 to play. Korver hit a trey to make it 108-104 and then James hit a trey with 2:50 to make it 111-107. Frye hit another trey with 54.8 seconds to play to clinch the game at 114-107.
James led the way with 41 points, but four other players had 13 points in J.R. Smith, Frye, Irving and Kevin Love. Korver added 12 points. Irving and Love did not play in the fourth quarters as Lue found a lineup that was working and stayed with it, going with James, Korver, Frye, Smith and Deron Williams.
"(Love and Irving) were okay with it," Lue said. "We were playing well and the guys stepped up."
Love didn't mind cheering from the bench.
"They were playing incredible," Love said. "LeBron was the guy who kept us rolling and his performance was incredible."
Frye said the Cavs have to build on the win in Game 4.
"We need to be focused, angry and desperate," Frye said. "We need to play the way we did in the second half from the beginning."
Little D, Good D: The Cavs reverted to playing poor defense as they gave up 74 points in the first half, 37 in each of the first two quarters. It was the most points the Cavs have given up in a half in franchise history in the playoffs. In the third quarter, the Cavs turned it around defensively, holding the Pacers to just 17 points to cut a 25-point deficit to just seven points after three quarters. The Cavs took the lead in fourth quarter for the first time at 100-98 on a dunk by LeBron James. They ended up just giving up 23 points in the fourth quarter.
LeBron Passes Kobe: LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA's all-tim playoff scoring list. Michael Jordan is first with 5,987 points, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is next with 5,762 points. James has 5,641 points when he passed Bryant with his 12th point in Game 3 against the Pacers in the second quarter. James continued his streak of not losing an opening round game. His streak is now at 19-straight. He hasn't lost a first round game since playing for the Heat when they lost to the Knicks in a game in 2012.
Bench Bunch: The Cavs bench was out scored 28-8 in the first half. By the end of the game, the Cavs bench ended up scoring 30 points to the Pacers 37. Channing Frye had 13, Kyle Korver had 12 and Deron Williams had five points.
3-Ball: The Cavs got the three-ball going. James was 6-of-12 from distance and Korver was 4-of-5 with J.R. Smith hitting 4-of-8. Kyrie Irving was just 1-of-6 from three-point range. The Cavs shot 47.7 percent from distance on 21-of-44 attempts.
Charity Toss: The Cavs shot just 66.7 from the free throw line hitting 20-of-30.
Helping Out: The Cavs had 23 assists, with LeBron James leading with 12.
J.R. Back: J.R. Smith was back in the starting lineup after missing the second game of Game 2 with a left hamstring injury. Smith made his first three midway through the first quarter after missing his first attempt. He finished 4-of-8 from three-point shooting in 31:22 for 13 points.
Next Up: Game 4 will be Sunday at 1 pm. in Indianapolis.