LeBron James wanted Kyle Korver on his team for one reason. He knew the 35-year-old sharp-shooter could still play, and now Korver is proving how valuable he can be.
Korver scored a season-high 29 points and James gave the Cleveland Cavaliers a second-half energy boost to help the defending champs erase a 15-point deficit and blow out the Indiana Pacers 132-117 on Wednesday night.
“I’ve been waiting for a game like this, where you get hot and you get some good corner looks,” Korver said. “I feel like I should have been shooting it better the last couple of weeks.”
The timing worked just fine for the Cavs.
Cleveland has won the first three games on a four-game road trip and six of its last seven overall.
Of course, James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love did their usual work.
Irving finished with 29 points and seven assists. James had 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds, and Love had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Indiana led most of the first half and still had a 63-57 edge at halftime.
James cranked up his defensive intensity after the break and forced Indiana into a flurry of empty possessions. Korver’s sharp-shooting then helped Cleveland lead 97-81 heading into the fourth quarter.
“At the start of the third quarter, you can’t come out not focused and ready to go as we did,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “We kind of lost our composure and they took advantage.”
Korver was 10 of 12 from the field, 8 of 9 on 3-pointers and scored 20 points in the second half – living up to the scouting report James offered after the Cavs acquired Korver in a trade with Atlanta last month.
“Korver was in a league of his own,” James said. “When he’s open, we’ve got to get it to him.”
For the Pacers, it was a familiar story.
They have struggled to defend Korver for years, and when he got free, Indiana’s season-best seven-game winning streak ended.
C.J. Miles matched his season high with 23 points, Jeff Teague had 22 points and 14 assists and Paul George finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
BIG 3 BREAK
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he is leaning toward resting James, Irving and Love at Oklahoma City on Thursday night, when Cleveland wraps its four-game, six-night trip.
“Probably, I’m not sure yet, but it’s a good possibility,” Lue said, adding that “we’ll see how the guys feel. When we’re playing good like this, guys might want to play, so we’ll just see how they feel.”
Cleveland, which struggled early, hit 61.9 percent from the field in the second half.
Indiana, meanwhile, shot just 34.8 percent in the third quarter when it scored 18 points – barely avoiding a season-low.
THEY SAID IT
Cavaliers: “When we got here, we told him, ‘Whatever shot you have, take it,'” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said, referring to Korver.
Pacers: “They spread the floor, they spread us out – our weak side was terrible. It’s the worst it’s been in a long time,” George said when asked about the Pacers’ defense.
Cavaliers: Cleveland scored a season-high 40 points in the third quarter. … Korver has 1,992 3-pointers, moving him past Jason Kidd (1,988) for No. 7 on the NBA’s career list. … The Cavs made 16 3s, their fourth straight game with 15 or more. … The Cavs were 24 of 26 from the free-throw line and topped the 110-point mark for the ninth time in 11 games.
Pacers: Myles Turner has 16 points and seven rebounds. … The Pacers lost at home to Cleveland for only the second time since 2010-11. … Indiana matched its season high for points in a first quarter with 36 and fell three points short of matching a season high for points in the first half.
Cavaliers: Are looking to sweep the road trip at Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
Pacers: Will visit Washington on Friday night. The Pacers have gone 14-5 since losing to the Wizards on Dec. 28.