00LeBron James was left bloodied as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ hopes of advancing to the second round of the NBA play-offs were dealt a blow.
The Cavs were beaten 121-87 by the Indiana Pacers on Friday night to leave their best-of-seven series tied at 3-3.
The three-time NBA winner suffered a cut above his left eye and sat out the third quarter but still hit 22 points.
James has never lost a first-round series but his side will need to win Sunday’s home decider to advance.
“They just took it to us [in the third],” he said afterwards. “They made shots. We missed shots. We didn’t counter what they were doing defensively or offensively and it just turned the game wide open.”
No other Cavs player scored more than 13 points while the Pacers had a more balanced attack with seven players scoring in double figures.
Victor Oladipo finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his first play-off triple double to help level the series.
“It was a big win for us. Now we’ve got to go get Sunday,” he said. “We got to leave it all out there – win or go home. Speaks for itself.”
Elsewhere, the Toronto Raptors reached the second round of the play-offs for the third straight season after beating the Washington Wizards 102-92 to seal a 4-2 series win. They will play the winners of the Cavs-Pacers encounter.
They were joined by Utah Jazz who defeated Oklahoma City Thunder 96-91 to also win their series in six games.