(The Sports Xchange) - There’s a specific reason why Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are referred to as “The Big Three.”
Big-time situations call for big-time results, and in the Cavaliers’ 111-106 overtime victory against Indiana on Monday night, James, Irving and Love were the big difference-makers.
Cleveland (35-12), which extended its winning streak to five, outscored the Pacers 15-10 in overtime with Irving scoring eight, James adding four and Love sinking a 3-pointer.
Irving finished with a game-best 25 points, three rebounds and seven assists. James added 24 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, and Love added 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. The trio finished 26 of 57 from the field.
“It’s only one of 82, but we knew what we came here to do, and that was to take care of business,” Irving said. “We knew it would be a hard fought game in this arena, and we were locked in. They made a run in the third quarter, but we came back in the fourth quarter and overtime.”
James gave the Cavaliers the lead for good with 1:37 remaining in the extra period, and two Irving free throws pushed the Cleveland lead to 107-104 with 43.2 seconds to go.
Irving and James each sank two free throws during the final 13.7 seconds as Cleveland improved to 25-2 when scoring 100 points or more and 25-3 when leading at halftime.
“It was a great win for us, considering we haven’t won here in six years,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “I just told the guys that we can’t resort back to bad habits when things get tough. We have to continue to play the same way we have been playing.”
Love said the Cavaliers were fortunate.
“We were able to force overtime, and then we hit some big shots when we needed to,” Love said.
Guard George Hill led the Pacers (25-23) with 23, and center Jordan Hill added 17 as Indiana lost for the seventh time in its last 10 games.
It was Cleveland’s first victory in Bankers Life Fieldhouse after 10 consecutive losses in the venue. The Cavs had not won in Bankers Life Fieldhouse since Jan. 29, 2010.
Guard J.R. Smith added 19 points for the Cavaliers. Forward Myles Turner and guard Monta Ellis each added 14 points for Indiana, and Turner also had 10 rebounds.
The Pacers had an opportunity to win in regulation, but Ellis missed a 17-foot jumper with one second on the clock after the potential game-winning play broke down when Turner forgot to set a pick for Ellis coming out of a timeout.
“I kind of forgot the play,” a disappointed Turner said. “It’s tough to get over losses like this one.”
George Hill’s 3-pointer with 53.7 seconds remaining pushed the Pacers into a 96-94 lead, but Irving’s jumper with 44 seconds left tied it at 96.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel is encouraged after this loss, in part because the Pacers had a chance to beat the best team in the Eastern Conference on a night when Ellis and Paul George were a combined 8 of 33 from the field, including 2 of 13 from 3-point range.
“We are an improving, evolving basketball team,” Vogel said. “We have great promise. Our two best scorers had off shooting nights, and we had a chance to win this one. Still, it’s very frustrating to fall short.”
George was not happy after making only 3 of 15 field-goal attempts and scoring only 11, well under his 23.5-point average.
“This was a very winnable game, and we let it get away,” George said. “In several late-game situations, we just were not on the same page.”
Indiana slipped to 1-5 in overtime games. Cleveland is 2-2.
Forward Solomon Hill’s dunk off a jump ball and an Ellis drive gave Indiana a 93-89 lead with3:59 to go.
Cleveland began the fourth quarter with a 6-2 burst, pulling even at 81 with 10:23 remaining. The Pacers grabbed an 89-84 lead on a Jordan Hill three-point play with 6:49 to go, but the Cavaliers tied it at 89 on a Love layup and an Irving 3-pointer at the 6:04 mark.
Two Solomon Hill free throws with 0.6 seconds left in the third quarter gave Indiana a 79-75 lead, capping a 30-15 period.
Turner’s basket with 3:51 left in the third quarter gave Indiana a 69-67 lead, capping a 20-7 run, but Smith’s 3-pointer from the left wing gave Cleveland a 70-69 advantage at the 2:52 mark.
Indiana opened the second half on a 12-2 run, pulling to within 62-61 with 8:34 remaining in the third quarter, prompting a Cavaliers’ timeout. Ellis had seven of the nine points in that Pacers’ burst.
James scored the first half’s final four points, pushing the Cavaliers into a 60-49 lead. James had a 12-point second quarter, finishing the first 24 minutes with 17 points.
Cleveland made 15 of 22 first-quarter shots (68.2 percent) and was 11 of 20 (55 percent) in the second period. The Cavaliers’ starters -- James, Love, forward Tristan Thompson, Smith and Irving -- were a collective 24 of 37 from the field in the first half.
Love had 12 points and five rebounds in the opening half, and Thompson added 10 points and seven rebounds. Irving had 10 points and three assists.
George Hill had 15 first-half points, and guard Paul George added seven, although he was only 2 of 10 from the field.
Cleveland out rebounded Indiana 21-15 during the first two quarters.
Editing by Peter Rutherford