INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving spent the break between regulation and overtime urging his teammates to close out Monday night.
He spent the next 5 minutes demonstrating what he meant.
The All-Star guard scored six of his 25 points in overtime and made four free throws in the final minute to help the Cavaliers pull out a 111-106 victory over the Pacers for their fifth straight win and their first in Indianapolis in six years.
“We gave ourselves a chance, now it was time to lock in and do what we were supposed to do,” Irving said, describing the animated conversation. “We got stops and, obviously, they were making shots so it was going to be tough down the stretch, but we just wanted to get out and run.”
While the Cavs didn’t exactly run away in overtime, Irving made sure they had the upper hand.
He had plenty of help, too.
LeBron James finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, though he scored only seven points after hurting his right shoulder in the third quarter. The four-time MVP continued playing with what he called a stinger and made an 11-foot jumper with 1:40 left in overtime to finally give the Cavs the lead for good.
Kevin Love and J.R. Smith each scored 19 points, while Tristan Thompson finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds — marking the seventh time this season all five Cleveland starters reached double figures.
Irving delivered the game’s biggest plays, scoring four straight in overtime to finally give Cleveland a three-point lead, and the free throws that essentially sealed it.
“We’re just learning how to win, that’s all,” James said. “We’re learning how to win in tough situations and tonight was one of those.”
It sure didn’t look like the game would be too tough after the Cavs shot 61.9 percent in the first half and took a 60-49 halftime lead.