CHICAGO - Game Four fell on a Sunday. It sure wasn't Easter but the Cleveland Cavaliers witnessed a resurrection that may have salvaged their postseason, which was teetering dangerously on the brink of a 3-1 deficit.
At long last, after a wistful wait, LeBron James' supporting cast rose from the dead and helped the Cavs hold off the relentless Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 104-100, knotting their first-round series at 2-2.
LeBron was, as usual, as dependable as a Rolex, clocking in 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists while playing all but two of the 48-minute brawl.
Obviously, the King was the main ingredient. But here's the complete winning recipe for Game Four - a lot of Jordan Clarkson in the first half, too much Kyle Korver in the fourth quarter, and just enough spice from the rest of the other guys in between.
In the first three games of this series, Clarkson only had a total of 10 points in 54 minutes of action. He made just 4-of-14 field goals and was horrible from 3-point range, 0-for-4.
In Game Four, Clarkson went en fuego, swishing his first five shots to help Cleveland build a 16-point cushion. When JC cooled off, Korver, whose younger brother Kirk died suddenly last March 20, took over.
Held scoreless in Games 1 and 3, and having converted just 8-of-23 overall prior to Sunday, Korver set aside his grief and did what he does best, shoot the darn ball. The 37-year old veteran punished the Pacers for 18 and drilled a pair of crucial fourth-quarter 3s - one gave Cleveland a 94-93 lead with 3:48 to go while the other pushed the advantage to 99-95 with 2:29 remaining.
DADDY KNOWS BEST. Despite Jordan's slow and tentative start in these playoffs, Mike Clarkson knew his son would turn the corner and told SPIN.ph contributor Rex Alba via phone text message after Game Two: "He is really trying to get a feel for the playoff intensity, so he doesn't make any critical mistakes. I expect his performance to improve as the games go along."
Jordan registered a playoffs-high 12 on 5-for-9 shooting and 2-for-3 from long distance. He also had a couple of rebounds, an assist and just one turnover in 22 minutes. If he plays consistently like this, Jordan will be in the thick of the NBA Finals when he turns 26 on June 7.
LeBron was impressed and told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "I just thought that he was great. He was great in that moment. He's obviously been out of rhythm and he's trying to figure out ways to be productive for our team. We need Jordan's scoring. He has the ability to go off in the second quarter like he did."
WASTED CHANCE. Game Four followed the same narrative as Game Three. The Cavs erected a big lead before imploding in the third quarter (6-for-21 shooting and outscored 28-20) and eventually surrendering the lead in the fourth quarter.
Same characters. Same plot. Same venue.
Only this time, it was a different ending because the Pacers, after going ahead 93-91 on a pair of Victor Oladipo free throws in the final 4:28, couldn't close the show.
"We as a team forced some shots. We took some quick shots. We didn't play the game the right way. It wasn't just Victor ... Sometimes you get in games like this, emotional games, so pumped up, sometimes you try to do the things by yourself and a lot of times it doesn't work," a disappointed Pacers coach Nate McMillan told The Indianapolis Star.
Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic had provided much of the magic for Indy. In Game Four, the potion had run dry.
Oladipo tallied 17 points, but he missed a ton of shots, 15 out of 20. After scoring 30 in Game Three, Bogdanovic returned to anonymity with just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Collectively, the Pacers shot 40 of 93 from the field (43 percent) and 12 of 33 from 3-point range (36.4 percent. They also left five points on the table, going 8 for 13 from the free throw stripe.
"Opportunity only knocks but once," so says an old idiom.
The Pacers had their chance Sunday and blew it.
They can knock again but that door ain't opening. Its locked now and the resurgent Cavs threw away the keys.