The Indiana Pacers snapped the Cleveland Cavaliers four-game win streak in a high scoring battle at home Wednesday night, 123 to 109. The Cavaliers, who are on the second night of a back-to-back after winning against the Milwaukee Bucks, were without All-Star LeBron James - who rested as the playoffs approach. The Pacers have been off since Sunday evening, when they beat the New York Knicks.
Cleveland, who dropped to 56-23 on the season, will look to rest many of their players in these last few games of the season, while Indiana continues to fight for seeding in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a record of 42-36, currently sitting in seventh place.
The Cavaliers have struggled greatly without James this season, as he has carried the team in the wake of injuries to key players like Kyrie Irving. Irving and Kevin Love, however, looked to step up in James’ absence. The Pacers were willing to step up as they continue to fight for a higher seed in the East.
The first quarter was tight throughout as both teams got off to hot shooting starts. Love came out firing, scoring 14 of Cleveland’s 33 first quarter points. Paul George was unwilling to let the Cavaliers take the lead however, scoring 12 for Indiana, who held a 36 to 33 lead at the end of the first.
Indiana was able to separate themselves from Cleveland in the second, jumping ahead by double-digits midway through the quarter. The Cavaliers continued to fight Indiana’s hot shooting behind Irving’s 15 and Love’s 21 first half points but were unable to make significant progress. Indiana, who shot 62 percent from the field in the first half, got significant contributions from both their starters and bench players. Monta Ellis and Soloman Hill each had 11 points, while George led the team with 14 points in the first half.
Indiana maintained a consistent lead going into the second half, as they outscored the Cavaliers 26 to 21 in the third quarter. Sharpshooter C.J. Miles got hot from behind the arc, adding a significant contribution off the bench for Indiana in the second half. The Cavaliers were unable to stop Indiana’s hot shooting, ultimately falling to the Pacers by 14 points.
Irving led the Cavaliers with 26 points off 11/18 shooting from the field. Love ended the game with 23 points, including being 10/10 from the free throw line. J.R. Smith, Channing Frye, and Richard Jefferson had 10 points each for Cleveland in the loss. The Cavaliers continue to struggle from behind the 3-point arc, shooting less than 28 percent on the night.
Indiana was led by the hot shooting of their star player, George, who had 29 points on the night. An all-rounded scoring effort and 56 percent shooting from the field contributed to this important win for the Pacers. Miles ended the game with 21 points, hitting seven of his nine field goal attempts. Hill and Ian Mahinmi each had 15 points, and Ellis rounded out the balanced scoring effort with 13 points.
The Pacers will travel north to play the Toronto Raptors on Friday.
The Cavaliers will face off against the struggling Chicago Bulls Saturday.