LOS ANGELES: A little rest did LeBron James a world of good, as the Cleveland star came back from a night off to score 33 points in the Cavaliers’ 100-96 NBA victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
James, who sat out a blowout loss to the Washington Wizards on Sunday, added five rebounds and four assists and Tristan Thompson came off the bench to score a big basket and make a key block in the final minute to help the Eastern Conference-leading Cavs snap a two-game skid.
“I think we showed some mental toughness tonight,” said James, who posted his highest points-total of 13 games in February. “So many lead changes, so many ties. They grabbed the momentum late in the fourth and we were able to keep our composure, get some stops, make some shots and win the ballgame.”
Indiana’s Paul George had appeared to tie the game at 89-89 with a three-pointer with 4:46 to play, but a review at the next timeout showed he didn’t beat the shot clock.
That left the Pacers with a one-point lead with 2:27 to play, and James scored off an inbounds play to put the Cavaliers ahead.
“That was a game changer right there,” Cleveland’s Kevin Love said. “That was a huge difference for us.”
Thompson was huge as well. Pulled from the starting lineup before the game in favor of Timofey Mozgov, he came in for Love in the final minute and scored a go-ahead basket off a James drive with 39 seconds left, giving Cleveland a 96-94 lead.
Seconds later he rejected George Hill’s driving effort at the rim.
Guard Kyrie Irving scored 22 points with six assists for the Cavaliers, including four free throws in the final eight seconds.
The Cavs halted a skid that saw them blow a nine-point lead late in a loss at Toronto on Friday, a defeat followed by their big loss to the Wizards.
The Wizards followed up their win over the Eastern Conference leaders by rallying to beat stragglers Philadelphia 116-108.
John Wall scored 16 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, including eight points in a 16-0 scoring run that put the Wizards up 102-93 with less than six minutes to play.
The 76ers fell to 8-52 for the season, enduring their ninth straight defeat and 13th in 14 games.