(Cincinnati, OH) — While LeBron James showed no rust after one game away from the court with a 26 point, four rebound performance, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers reserves that helped keep the team’s preseason record spotless at 4-0 with a 98-93 victory over the Indiana Pacers at Xavier University’s Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In the third quarter, Cleveland had seemingly put the game away with a 23-6 run that gave them a 76-59 lead with 1:05 to play. However, the Pacers put together a 19-2 run of their own against the Cavs reserves, eventually holding a 93-92 lead with 56.8 seconds to play.
The Cavaliers would score the final six points of the game, with free agent guard A.J. Price giving them the lead for good on a jumper with 40.9 seconds left. After Indiana missed a chance to take back the lead, free agent Joe Harris pushed the lead to three with a pair of free throws with 10.3 seconds to go. The Pacers last-ditch trey failed, with Alex Kirk then salting the game away with two more charity tosses with 2.7 seconds left.
James had sat out Tuesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, but wasted no time displaying his ample talents, pouring in 16 first half points and connecting on five of his six outside shots. In the span of a minute midway through the third quarter, James scored eight points, finishing the night hitting nine of his 12 shots from the field.
After the game, James noted he was still a work in progress, saying, “I feel good and am getting my body back in shape.” James added, “I’m almost there, but not quite there yet.”
When asked about the team’s three straight close victories thus far, James said, “Even if it’s preseason, it’s a good thing to work on.”
Early on, the opening quarter saw eight different lead changes, with neither team having more than a three-point advantage. Price notched the final basket of the quarter with 3.8 seconds to go to give Cleveland a 24-23 lead.
Price then added the team’s first five points of quarter number two, the latter coming on a three to give the Cavs a lead that would last the rest of the half. He and Matthew Dellavedova would finish the night with 14 points apiece
Cleveland would take a pair of 10-point leads, but Indiana chipped away during the final 4:26 before the break. When the halftime horn sounded, the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms with the Cavaliers holding a 47-46 lead.
Unlike Tuesday night, Kevin Love‘s shooting touch deserted him in the first half, with the forward connecting on just one of six shots. He finished with just five points and four rebounds, sitting out the second half due to what was described as a non-serious neck issue.
For the third consecutive contest, Cavalier point guard Kyrie Irving sat out to rest his sprained ankle. Also sitting out the game was Anderson Varejao, who left Tuesday night’s clash after smacking his knee against a Buck player, and veteran James Jones. Fox Sports Ohio announcer Fred MacLeod described Varejao’s absence as a “maintenance issue,” and not related to his knee.
The Cavs return to action on Friday night when they return to Quicken Loans Arena for a 7:30 matchup against the Dallas Mavericks.