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James, Cavs beat Pacers to clinch playoff berth

Mar 21, 2015 - 4:46 AM Cleveland, OH ( - LeBron James is headed back to the playoffs with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James scored 29 points and the Cavaliers held on to beat the Indiana Pacers 95-92 on Friday night to clinch a spot in the playoffs for the first time since James left for Miami following the 2009-10 season.

"It's a huge accomplishment for our team," James said. "We have guys who have never been in the playoffs, and they should not take it for granted."

Kevin Love added 11 points and 13 rebounds and Kyrie Irving scored 13 for the Central Division-leading Cavs, who have won six of their last seven.

James played despite missing Friday's shootaround with an illness and scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half, including 13 in the fourth quarter.

George Hill led Indiana with 24 points and Roy Hibbert scored 20 but the Pacers dropped their fourth game in a row following a season-high seven-game winning streak.

The Cavs led from 6:19 remaining in the first quarter until Hill's 3-pointer with 6:46 left in the game put Indiana in front.

It was tied going into the fourth and James took over down the stretch. His 3 from the right side gave the Cavs a lead with 4:42 left and they only trailed one more time, after a C.J. Miles 3 with 2:22 remaining.

"I liked the way we played. ... We just got undone by a great performance by the best player in the game," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of James.

James knocked down a bucket at the other end to give Cleveland the lead for good. But it was one of his 13 misses in the game which put the Cavs over the top.

After he clanked a 3 off the rim at the shot-clock buzzer, Iman Shumpert chased down the rebound and J.R. Smith knocked down two foul shots with one second remaining.

The Pacers inbounded the ball at the other end after a timeout but Miles was short on a turnaround 3 at the buzzer.

James had just two points in nine minutes in the first quarter but the Cavs led by 11 in the final minutes. They were up 25-20 going into the second and never fell behind despite a close game, taking a 45-41 edge into halftime despite shooting just 36.8 percent.

Game Notes

Luis Scola had 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for Indiana ... The teams split the four-game season series ... Cleveland starts a three-game road trip on Sunday in Milwaukee ... Indiana hosts Brooklyn on Saturday.