LOS ANGELES: Darren Collison scored 22 points and Victor Oladipo tallied 19 as the Indiana Pacers rallied from a 22-point deficit to edge the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers 97-95 on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
Lance Stephenson finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers who improved to 22-20 on the season in front of a crowd of 17,900 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena.
The loss was the third straight for the three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers.
Cleveland would need a monumental effort from LeBron James in order to halt their losing streak. But it wasn’t enough as the four-time MVP finished with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds while Kevin Love had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
Oladipo gave the Pacers the lead for good on a three pointer with just over two minutes to play.
James then had two opportunities in the final two seconds to win it but failed on both.
James stepped out of bounds with 1.7 seconds to go, a call that was confirmed by video replay. Then, after Collison made a free throw to give the Pacers a 97-95 lead, James’ desperation shot from beyond the arc rattled off the rim at the buzzer.
Following the game, James said the out-of-bounds call was correct but he also made mention of a prior no-call that allowed Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to score the winning basket over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Definitely stepped out by a tiny bit after seeing it over again! Great call. Needed to be in OKC on that drive. Lol. Live and you Learn,” James wrote on Twitter.
James was also slapped with a technical foul after losing his cool and retaliating against Stephenson with 7:53 left in the game.
James made the mistake of shoving Stephenson in the chest after the two made contact with each other.
After the game, James described Stephenson as a “dirty” player.
“I should have known, I’ve known since school, it’s not the guy who tells the joke that gets caught it’s the guy who laughs,” James said.
Cleveland, which lost its previous two games by a combined 62 points, was outscored 84-61 over the final three quarters.
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