Bojan Bogdanovic 'carried' Pacers in Game 3, Cavs' Tyronn Lue says

INDIANAPOLIS -- Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic spent the majority of his first five years in the NBA fighting the notion that he was just an offensive player who didn't play much defense.

There's no better place than the playoffs -- while guarding one of the best players in the world -- to try to shoot down that notion.

Bogdanovic spent the majority of his 36 minutes hounding LeBron James as much as he could, while also scoring 30 points on the other end to help the Pacers come from 17 points down at halftime to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 92-90 and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"[Bogdanovic] did an excellent job," Pacers guard Lance Stephenson said. "I'll give him a 100 [percent] on the test. He did a good job on LeBron and hit open shots. Attacked. We saw he could do that throughout the season. But for him to do that in the playoffs is amazing. Bogey manned up."

Bogdanovic spoke as if he was insulted that his defensive ability was being questioned. That's why throughout the series he has embraced trying to slow down one of the best players in the world. And he's doing it in many different ways.

When guarding James, Bogdanovic has tried to front him, play behind him in the post and even get low and put his shoulder into James' midsection when the two are banging in the post.

"Just trying to get into his knees," Bogdanovic said. "Trying to push him to catch the ball far from the basket. Against those kind of players, you can't do anything. Just try to stay aggressive on them. He shot a good percentage, but we won the game, and that's most important. You can force him to take tough shots and earn every single point that he gets."

James, who finished with 28 points, was only 2-of-7 from the field with two turnovers when defended by Bogdanovic on Friday. James is shooting only 24 percent in the series when Bogdanovic is matched up against him in the half court, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"Everybody thought before this season that I cannot play defense," Bogdanovic said. "I don't say that I am playing great defense, but I am working hard at trying to make it tough for each offensive player that I'm guarding."

Some players might look at guarding a player of James' caliber as their only responsibility while conserving energy on offense.

Not Bogdanovic. He scored his 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including 7-of-9 on 3-pointers, while also playing with five fouls.

"He made some shots," Cavaliers coach Ty Lue said. "I don't think we were physical enough with him, being into his body, making him put the ball on the floor. They only had eight 3s, so we got to get to him, get to his body, and then make him put the ball on the floor. He played a great game and pretty much carried them, especially having 19 in the second half."

Seven of Bogdanovic's 19 second-half points came on back-to-back sequences, where he had a four-point play and another 3-pointer in transition, when the Pacers got their first lead, 81-77, since the first half.

Bogdanovic and Victor Oladipo combined were barely outscored by the Cavaliers in the second half, 33-32.

"[Bogdanovic] had it going," James said. "He was shooting it from deep. He had some mismatches in transition. He was attacking the rim. He's definitely capable of doing that. We saw a little bit of it in Brooklyn. He's had a few games here throughout the course of the season where he can catch fire, and he did that tonight."