CLEVELAND – The rest helped LeBron James. The replay aided the Cavaliers.
James scored 33 points after sitting out a game and Tristan Thompson made two huge plays in the final minute, leading Cleveland to a 100-96 win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
James was given Sunday off by coach Tyronn Lue, who wants to monitor his superstar’s playing time down the stretch, and the Cavs were lethargic in a 113-99 loss at Washington. But with James back on the floor, Cleveland played with much more energy and again looked like a team with NBA championship aspirations.
“We showed some mental toughness,” James said. “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.”
Beyond that, the Cavs also caught a break when a 3-pointer by Indiana’s Paul George in the fourth quarter was nullified following a video review by the officials.
“Huge,” Cavs forward Kevin Love said of the ruling, which reduced Indiana’s lead to one. “A game changer right there. That was a huge difference for us.”
Matthew Dellavedova hit a tying 3-pointer for Cleveland with 1:13 left before Thompson, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Timofey Mozgov, scored underneath off a pass from James to make it 96-94 with 18 seconds remaining. Thompson then came across the lane to block a short shot by George Hill.
Kyrie Irving made four free throws in the last eight seconds to put away the Pacers. Irving finished with 22 points — he went 11 of 11 from the line — and Thompson added 11 rebounds for the Cavs, who were criticized following Sunday’s poor performance by teammate J. R. Smith for not playing harder.
Cleveland recovered with a solid all-around effort, but were pushed to the final seconds by the Pacers.
“The fact that we responded like we did tonight is a good sign,” James said. “We put ourselves in dark spots and we have to build our way out of them.”
Although it may keep him fresh for the playoffs, James said watching his teammates on Sunday wasn’t easy.
Monta Ellis scored 28 points and George had 23 for the Pacers, who lost their third straight but played much better than in a loss to Portland on Sunday.
Wizards 116, 76ers 108
In Washington, John Wall scored 16 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Wizards rally for the victory.
The 76ers had six players score in double figures, led by Ish Smith’s 25 points.
Celtics 100, Jazz 95
In Boston, Jae Crowder had 22 points, and the Celtics extended their home win streak to 11 games.
Trey Lyles had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Utah, which has dropped three in a row.
Bucks 128, Rockets 121
In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his second career triple-double with 18 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists, and the Bucks outlasted Houston.
Jabari Parker scored a career-high 36 points for Milwaukee.
Grizzlies 103, Nuggets 96
In Denver, Zach Randolph scored 22 points, leading Memphis to the road win.
Kenneth Faried had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have lost five of six.
Clippers 105, Nets 95
In Los Angeles, Jamal Crawford scored 26 points off the bench and Chris Paul had 23 points and 12 assists and the Clippers beat Brooklyn.
Brook Lopez had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who were going for their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Thunder 131, Kings 116
In Sacramento, Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists, leading Oklahoma City over the Kings.
Kevin Durant finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists as the Thunder bounced back from a difficult stretch. Oklahoma City had dropped four of five, including a heartbreaking overtime loss to Golden State on Saturday night.
DeMarcus Cousins had 35 points and 12 rebounds for Sacramento in the loss, while Rajon Rondo finished with 11 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.