LeBron’s triple-double, Smith’s 23 lead Cavs past Pacers
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James recorded his 63rd career triple-double — overcoming 11 turnovers — and J.R. Smith scored 23 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers showed signs of ending their stunning slump with a 115-108 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
James finished with 26 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as the Cavs, following a minor lineup switch by coach Tyronn Lue, won for just the fourth time in 11 games. However, James kept Indiana close in the fourth with six turnovers.
Cleveland stopped Indiana from sweeping all four games between the clubs this season.
Victor Oladipo scored 25, Darren Collison 19 and Domantas Sabonis 17 for the Pacers, who kept attacking and closed within five in the final minute before Cleveland closed it out.
Smith made seven 3-pointers, Kevin Love had 13 rebounds and Derrick Rose scored 14 points for Cleveland. The Cavs were without Dwyane Wade, who was excused from the team to attend to a personal matter.
With the Cavs unable to snap out of their prolonged, puzzling slide, Lue returned to a proven starting lineup with Isaiah Thomas joining James, Love, Tristan Thompson and Smith — the latter four starters that led Cleveland to three straight NBA Finals.
Lue moved Jae Crowder out of the starting lineup and replaced him with Thompson, who took over at center and moved Love back to his usual spot at power forward.
The new/old look paid off for one game and Rose came up big, scoring seven straight points in the third when Lue pulled an ineffective Thomas, who finished with 12 points. Rose recently returned after missing two months with ankle injuries.
Smith has been in a miserable shooting funk, but he found his stroke in the first quarter.
He made three straight 3-pointers and made 4 of 6 in the opening 12 minutes. One of the NBA’s best — and least shy — outside shooters, Smith came in shooting just 5 of 31 from long range in his previous five games.
Pacers: Surrendered a season-high 73 points in the first half. … F/C Myles Turner (right elbow) missed his ninth straight game. “He’s practicing but he’s just not ready,” said coach Nate McMillan. “We’ll make that decision when we feel he’s comfortable enough to play.” … Collison returned after missing Wednesday’s game against Phoenix because of a personal reason.
Cavaliers: A video tribute for James was played in the first quarter to recognize him reaching 30,000 points on Monday in San Antonio. The seventh player to reach the 30,000-point summit, James waved as the crowd gave him a warm ovation. … Cleveland’s chemistry — or lack of it — has been a burning issue since the team’s heated meeting on Monday. Lue said players don’t have to like each other, but respect is imperative. “I was on a team where guys didn’t like each other but we won a championship,” said Lue, a member of the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers. “Once you get between the lines, you have to like who you’re playing with. Once you leave here, you don’t have to go out and hang out together and things like that, but you have to respect your teammate and play for your teammate.” … When he returns, Wade (21,782) needs 10 points to pass Larry Bird (21,791) for 32nd place on career scoring list.
Pacers: Visit Orlando on Saturday.
Cavaliers: Host Detroit on Sunday.