James helps Cavs hold off Pacers, earn sweep into 2nd round

LeBron James made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:08 to play and helped the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers hold off the Indiana Pacers for a series-clinching 106-102 victory Sunday.

James averaged 32.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game in this series, leading the series in every category except rebounds, where he followed Tristan Thompson's 11 per game for a second-place finish.

ROCKETS 113, THUNDER 109: Nene scored 28 points on flawless shooting from the field, and Houston beat Oklahoma City to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.

Reserve forward Kevin Seraphin started strong for the Pacers, tallying nine points, while starting power forward Thaddeus Young added seven over the first 12 minutes of play. With 4:17 remaining, the Pacers were within 100-98.

As a team, the Pacers went 14 of 21 from the field, including a four-for-six showing from three-point range, in the first quarter.

What was the craziest thing about LeBron James' Sunday afternoon? "All the games came down to the wire, and when we needed to get stops, we got stops". They blew a 2-0 lead (after Griffin sprained an ankle) in 2013, dealt with the Donald Sterling ban saga in 2014, were up 3-1 to Houston before falling in 2015 and saw Griffin and Chris Paul sidelined at playoff time past year.

It was the first time the Pacers have been swept in the first round since the National Basketball Association went to a best-of-7 format for the opening round starting in 2003. The Cavs got the win without two of their Big 3 playing well.

The Pacers made just 13-of-51 shots in the second half. In the first two quarters, they shot 56.8 percent from the field, 58.8 percent from 3-point range as they took a 74-49 lead.

With the Milwaukee-Toronto series tied at 2, the next two games scheduled for Monday and Thursday and a possible Game 7 set for Saturday, the Cavs might not even know their opponent till next weekend.

We all know Lance Stephenson and LeBron James have history. Ultimately, this is who I'm always going to have to see and face but, again, came up short. George had 36 points and a postseason career-best 15 rebounds in Game 3 for the Pacers' first 30-point, 15-rebound showing since Jermaine O'Neal contributed 37 points and 15 rebounds in the 2006 first-round series against the then-New Jersey Nets.

Lance Stephenson came off the IN bench to lead the Pacers with 22 points.

"It's really frustrating to continue losing to the same team or the same person", George said of James, whose Heat and Cavs teams have eliminated the Pacers three of the past five seasons. Whenever the Pacers were able to aggregate a series of defensive stops, Cleveland would answer right back on the other end and force either a miss or turnover. Rudy Gobert added 15 points and grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds for the Jazz. "Probably up until Sunday, where you focus on what's ahead", said Paul George.

The Cavs' average margin of victory - 4.0 points - tied the smallest margin in a four-game sweep in league history. ". Consistency is something we talked a lot about throughout the season, where we were getting consistent, solid play, where we would build off the good, improve and get better".