Joshua Gunter / The Plain DealerLeBron James completed a dominating fourth-quarter stretch for the Cavaliers by splitting the Pacers for a short bank shot for two points in the final minutes of Wednesday’s game at The Q. CLEVELAND, Ohio — It would be easy to shake a finger at the Cavaliers for their overall performance Wednesday night, allowing a poor team to nearly upset them at home after having an 18-point second-half lead.
But doing that wouldn’t be fair because it would overlook the three minutes of fury LeBron James whizzed through late in the game. In a flash of speed, skill and instinct, James created a Cliffs Notes version of his Most Valuable Player campaign.
Yes, it was done against an Indiana Pacers team that was missing four key players — including star Danny Granger — because of injury. But, yes, the 99-94 victory had special significance, clinching the Cavs (54-15) the Central Division title.
Combined with James’ little highlight burst, it is easy to overlook some of the flaws in the complete product. Overall, James had 32 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocks. That may seem impressive, but not at much as the blow-by-blow of his fourth-quarter dominance.
4:08: With the Cavs up a point, Pacers guard Brandon Rush drove for what he thought was a go-ahead layup. But James soared from behind and smashed the ball off the backboard.
“I didn’t hear anybody say that he was behind me,” Rush said later. “But I knew he was coming.”
4:02: The ball sprung so hard off the glass that it created a fastbreak, with James leading. He zipped a pass to Anderson Varejao for an easy layup.
3:43: The Pacers attempted to feed center Roy Hibbert, who led his team with 20 points on the undersized Cavs, in the post. But Varejao got his hand on the entry pass and there was James again, sinking down to play help defense and ending up with the ball.
3:35: Away the Cavs went again, led by James. He dumped the ball to Varejao and then headed to the rim. Varejao hit James in stride for a slam dunk, Cavs are up five.
“That’s all phases of my game in a couple possessions,” James said. “That’s what solidifies who I am on both sides of the floor.”