The Associated PressCLEVELAND (AP) — Blown big leads. Defensive breakdowns. Bad shots. None of it means anything to LeBron James.
The only score that matters is 2-0.
Kyrie Irving scored 37 points, Kevin Love added 27, James had 25 and the Cleveland Cavaliers avoided another fourth-quarter collapse in Game 2, beating the Indiana Pacers 117-111 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
After giving up a late lead and squeaking out the opener by just a point, James and Co. showed more intensity on defense, more swagger in general and held on to win their 10th straight first-round game over the past three seasons.
However, the defending champions, following a pattern that began late in the regular season, nearly gave away an 18-point lead in the fourth as the Pacers crawled within four in the final minute before Cleveland closed it out at the foul line.
Still, James came away encouraged. The Cavs are finding their groove.
“We’re right there on what we know we can become,” James said. “We’ll figure it out. I’d much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all. We’re right there on turning the switch on what we really can become.”
James added 10 rebounds and seven assists while winning his 19th straight game in the first round. He did have eight of Cleveland’s 19 turnovers, miscues that allowed the Pacers to hang around.
Paul George scored 32 and Jeff Teague 23 for Indiana, which showed more fight, but now has a steep hill to climb to get back in the series. Cleveland is 12-0 when starting 2-0 in the postseason.
Teague injured his right wrist in the second half and coach Nate McMillan said the starting guard will undergo X-rays.
The Cavs vowed they would play better after their near-disaster in Game 1 and they mostly backed up their talk, delivering the kind of performance that was routine last season but rare in 2017.
Leonard lifts Spurs to 2-0 lead
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Spurs responded to another late-game meltdown as they have all season: relying on a little 3-point shooting and a whole lot of Kawhi Leonard.
They also got an assist from the officials, according to Memphis coach David Fizdale.
Leonard had a postseason career-high 37 points and added 11 rebounds, and San Antonio beat the Memphis Grizzlies 96-82 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.
San Antonio led for all but 13 seconds in winning its 10th consecutive postseason game over Memphis.
“This team has character, besides the talent and the desire to win,” Spurs center Pau Gasol said. “We have to keep that up every single night. We responded well when they made their run, and that’s the mindset we have to have every night.”
Leonard attempted more free throws than Memphis had as a team, which infuriated Fizdale.
“We don’t get the respect that these guys deserve because Mike Conley doesn’t go crazy, he has class and he just plays the game,” Fizdale said. “But I’m not going to let them treat us that way. I know [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has] got pedigree and I’m a young rookie, but they are not going to rook us. That’s unacceptable.”Speech