Down 74-49 at halftime, it looked like the Cleveland Cavaliers were destined to lose Game 3 of their opening round series against the Indiana Pacers.
However, Cleveland came out firing in the third quarter, outscoring the Pacers 35-17 to get the score to 91-84. LeBron James was a major part of the effort in the third as well, picking up 13 points in that quarter alone.
By the way, for the game, he had a triple-double of 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. Just another day at the office.
With all of the momentum heading into the fourth, the Cavs did the unthinkable and completed the comeback, outscoring the Pacers 35-23 in a record-setting effort.
The previous largest halftime deficit that was overcome to win a playoff game had been 21 points by Baltimore against Philadelphia in 1948. Therefore, this set the NBA record.
Cleveland’s win probability graph tells the whole story. As you can see, they had very little shot to earn the victory at halftime.
LeBron also passed Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the NBA’s career playoff scoring list with his epic performance. He now has 5,669 playoff points and counting.
He also tied Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and James Worthy for the most consecutive first-round wins with 20.
Interestingly, four players (Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith and Channing Frye) had exactly 13 points each for Cleveland in the supporting effort. Love and Irving combined to play a whopping zero minutes in the fourth quarter.
Therefore, the night belonged to LeBron, who inched closer to Magic Johnson’s record mark of 30 postseason triple-doubles.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, LeBron's ninth career postseason 30-point triple-double in this game passed Oscar Robertson (eight) for most in NBA history.
He’s also just one 30-point, 10-assist game away from tying MJ’s record.
All of this will be important to consider when making the "greatest ever" argument at the end of his Hall of Fame career.
Statistically, this was the best playoff game of his entire career.
While some of his NBA Finals performances were obviously of greater magnitude, his impact on this game was astounding.
Unfortunately for the Pacers, their epic meltdown completely overshadowed an incredible performance by their superstar Paul George. With 36 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, George was dominant all night, but his supporting cast didn’t produce, especially after halftime.
Now up 3-0 in the series, LeBron and the Cavs will look to take care of business in Game 4 on Sunday in the hopes of earning an extended period of rest before the second round. If Thursday night was an indication, the Pacers will have absolutely no momentum heading into the next game in front of their home fans.