CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving ripped the Indiana Pacers with 37 points, and the Cleveland Cavaliers took a commanding two-game lead in an opening-round Eastern Conference playoff series with a 117-111 win on Monday night.
The Cavs have never lost a playoff series in which they led 2-0 (12-0). Game 3 is Thursday night in Indianapolis.
LeBron James finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for Cleveland. Kevin Love contributed 27 points and 11 rebounds and was 12 of 12 from the foul line.
The Pacers were led by 32 points from Paul George. Jeff Teague scored 23 points, and Thaddeus Young contributed 16.
Cavs guard J.R. Smith did not return for the second half because of a left hamstring injury. He missed three months with a fractured right thumb and was visibly frustrated by the latest setback when he returned to the bench after the third quarter started.
Iman Shumpert replaced Smith and scored five points.
James committed eight of the Cavs’ 19 turnovers.
Cleveland was much better at the foul line in Game 2, going 20 of 23 after making just 14 of 27 in Game 1.
Also, fourth-quarter leads continue to be a problem. Indiana totally erased a 10-point deficit with nine minutes left in Game 1 and cut Cleveland’s 18-point lead after three quarters to four with 19.5 seconds remaining Monday.
James needed just two rebounds to pass Robert Parish (1,765 rebounds) for the eighth-most rebounds in playoff history. He also passed Magic Johnson (358 steals) for third place in playoff steals.
With 12 points in Game 3, James would pass Kobe Bryant for third place in NBA postseason scoring.
A silver lining for the Pacers for Game 3: Cleveland had a losing record on the road this season (20-21).
NOTES: Cavs F LeBron James totaled 32 points and 13 assists in Game 1. It was the 13th playoff game in which he collected at least 30 points and 10 assists. Only Jerry West (14) and Michael Jordan (15) had more. … Cavs G Kyrie Irving entered Game 2 with 800 playoff points, third most in Cavs history. He passed Mark Price for second place in the third quarter. … Cleveland G Iman Shumpert didn’t play at all in Game 1. It was the first time in his six-year career he was healthy and in uniform but didn’t play, according to cleveland.com. … Pacers G Lance Stephenson worked out for the Cavs in January. He was a free agent after being released by the New Orleans Pelicans, who needed his roster spot because he was injured. Stephenson scored 16 points against the Cavs in Game 1, then added 13 in Game 2.