After dropping Games 1 and 2 of their first-round playoff series in Cleveland, the Indiana Pacers sent a clear message in the first half of Game 3 on Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse — this series is far from over.
Indiana set a new NBA franchise record for points in a half in a playoff game, opening up a 74-49 halftime lead over the Cavaliers.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair initially, with four ties and six lead changes in the early going. But the Pacers seized control midway through the period when their reserves triggered a 10-0 run to give the Blue & Gold the first sizable advantage of the night.
Lance Stephenson brought the energy off the bench in the early going. The fan favorite received a standing ovation when he first checked into the contest, then promptly drilled an open 3-pointer. Stephenson set up fellow reserve Kevin Seraphin early and often in the first quarter, as the Frenchman racked up nine points in just 4:25 in the opening frame, six of them coming during that 10-0 run.
As a team, Indiana was on fire in the opening period, knocking down 14-of-21 shots (66.7 percent) to open up a 37-27 lead over the defending NBA champions.
The home team also got an encouraging lift early from second-year-center Myles Turner. The team’s third-leading scorer struggled mightily in the first two games of the series in Cleveland, but he knocked down a jumper on the opening possession of Game 3 and ignited the crowd in the second quarter with arguably the best dunk of his young career.
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Turner missed a jumper on the right baseline, but hustled past Kevin Love to collect his own rebound, then bodied Tristan Thompson out of the way in mid-air while throwing down a monster one-handed slam that sent the sellout crowd into hysterics. Turner was so jacked up by the dunk he was still pounding his chest and gesturing to the crowd when J.R. Smith’s 3-point attempt bounced out of bounds on the ensuing possession.
Paul George, meanwhile, got off to an uncharacteristically slow start offensively, missing his first four shots and scoring just two points in the first quarter before returning to his torrid playoff production in the second period. George erupted for 21 points in the second quarter alone, helping Indiana stretch its lead to as many as 26 points.
Indiana’s 74 first-half points shattered the previous franchise NBA playoff record of 65, set on June 2, 1995 against Orlando and again on April 17, 2004 vs. Boston. The Pacers shot 56.8 percent from the floor and went 10-for-17 from 3-point range in the first half.
George led the way with 23 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Thaddeus Young added nine points, four rebounds, and three assists. Stephenson chipped in eight points and four boards off the bench.
LeBron James led Cleveland with 13 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Kyrie Irving added 10 points and four assists in the first half.
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TV: TNT – Brian Anderson (play-by-play), Kevin McHale (analyst), Kristen Ledlow (sideline reporter)
Radio: 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Please Note: For the remainder of the season, all Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on FM 107.5 as well as AM 1070 The Fan.
Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.
Home Court Gift Shop Game Night Special
All Jerseys – $40. Game Night Specials can be purchased in the Home Court Gift Shop or any of our souvenir stands located on all levels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The special is also available online at PacersGear.com until midnight.