HEADLINE

Pacers look to get even against Cavaliers

The Sports Xchange

April 26, 2018 at 8:38 pm.

The Indiana Pacers were winless in the seven games that leading scorer Victor Oladipo didn’t play in the regular season.

In the past three first-round playoff games, Oladipo is 12 of 47 from the field. The Pacers won Game 3, thanks to Bojan Bogdanovic’s 30 points, but lost the last two close games to Cleveland to fall behind in the series 3-2. Game 6 is set for Friday in Indianapolis.

“I think I got some pretty good looks. I just feel as though I missed,” Oladipo said. “Credit them. They still did a great job on me, switching out. But I feel like I got pretty good looks, some open looks that I haven’t gotten at all this series. I just missed.”

The most important miss in his 2-of-15 showing was a controversial one. LeBron James blocked Oladipo’s drive in the final seconds with the score tied at 95. However, the NBA admitted Thursday that it should have been called goaltending because the ball make contact with the backboard before James blocked it. James then drilled a 3-pointer to win it at the buzzer.

“The series ain’t over,” Oladipo said. “You got to win four games, right? We still got a game on Friday. I don’t think anyone is discouraged or upset. It sucks we lose. But we can give ourselves a chance to come back (to Cleveland) for Game 7.”

The Pacers were ahead 56-49 at halftime. The difference was the third quarter when the Cavaliers opened with a 21-4 spurt to take a 10-point lead. Kyle Korver said the third quarter has been an issue for the Cavs.

“I thought we had a good third quarter, finally,” Korver said. “We’ve had leads going into the half the last few games, and third quarters have kind of been our Achilles heel, so it was good to come out motivated and playing hard in the third quarter. I thought guys responded well, and then at the end — what a special finish. It was amazing.”

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said the coaching staff did a good job encouraging the players to come out strong.

“I think our guys responded,” Lue said. “I thought JR Smith’s defense in the second half was way better. We challenged him at halftime and he was great for us.”

Lue just wanted an opportunity at the end.

“We have the best player in the world on the team,” Lue said. “If we get the ball to him, you know he’s capable of delivering.”

James, who finished with 44 points, is averaging 34.8 points in the series.

“Kevin (Love) and JR didn’t shoot it well, but defensively they were really good,” James said. “Kevin rebounded the basketball. It was a total team effort.”

Pacers point guard Darren Collison said the Pacers can’t dwell on the missed call or loss.

“We’ve got to forget about it,” Collison told Fox Sports Indiana. “You can’t worry about what happened. That’s not going to help us. We know (James) made a tough shot. We’ll be prepared mentally coming in.”

Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, who said he should have played James tighter on the final shot, agreed the Pacers must have short memories.

“Hopefully, we get this home win and take care of business and force a Game 7,” Young said.

Pacers guard Lance Stephenson offered the keys to winning Friday.

“We got to play hard, make the open passes, make the open shots, lock down LeBron and make his teammates play,” he said.

After scoring 17 points in the first three games of the series, Pacers center Domantas Sabonis has scored 41 off the bench in the last two games.

“Every game I’m getting more comfortable,” Sabonis said. “There are different lineups they are throwing at us and I’m just trying to take advantage of it.”

James expects the Pacers to come hard at the Cavaliers.

“That team never stops and it’s going to be even tougher on Friday,” James told TNT after the game.

Cavaliers point guard George Hill has missed the last two games with back spasms and is questionable.

 

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