CLEVELAND, Oh. – Even without arguably their best player in Myles Turner, the Indiana Pacers (5-3) continue to play inspiring basketball.
Taking on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (3-5) on Wednesday, the Pacers put an end to two negative trends with one impressive 124-107 win. First, Indy halted a seven-game losing streak to the Cavs at Quicken Loans Arena and second, the Pacers were victorious on the second night of a back-to-back (something they struggled with mightily in past seasons, especially away from home).
Indiana, a team many people overlooked coming into this season following the Paul George trade, is trending upward early on with wins over the San Antonio Spurs and the Cavaliers. Cleveland, on the other hand, sees their losing streak go to four.
The Pacers and Cavs traded runs in a pretty even first quarter, with Indiana holding a 30-28 advantage after 12 minutes of play.
In the second period, Indy’s lead grew to 49-40, but a pair of controversial calls fueled Cleveland to an 11-0 run and made things tighter going into the half.
First, a flagrant one foul was called on Lance Stephenson on a James drive to the basket. Stephenson wildly launched himself into James, most definitely deserving a whistle, but appeared to be reaching for the ball in a non-malicious manner. James sunk the pair of free throws. Next time down the floor, a missed out of bounds call allowed Cleveland to retain possession and ultimately led to a JR Smith three-pointer.
Indy weathered the storm, however, holding on to a one-point lead going into halftime. The Pacers then came out of the locker room and played well in the third quarter. Indiana outscored Cleveland 30-24 in the period, led by Victor Oladipo‘s 12 points.
The Pacers never trailed in the fourth quarter, but the Cavaliers did put up a fight.
With 3:11 remaining in the ballgame, a Jae Crowder and-one pulled Cleveland within six points at 111-105. A timeout followed, but after the break in the action, Oladipo came up clutch again for Indiana. In a similar looking shot to his game-winner versus San Antonio, Oladipo rose up and drilled a big three-pointer to give the Pacers a nine-point cushion. Indy rode the momentum of Oladipo’s shot to a game-ending 10-2 run, giving the Pacers another huge win early on in this young season.
Three Pacers reached the 20-point mark on Wednesday. Thaddeus Young led the Blue and Gold with 26, while Darren Collison put up 25 points and Oladipo added 23.
Domantas Sabonis turned in another solid performance, picking up his fifth double-double of the year. He finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while also dishing out six assists.
All five Pacers starters scored in double-figures (Bojan Bogdanovic piled up 17 points), carrying the load on the offensive end for Indiana on this night. Indy’s bench scored just 18 points, with Cory Joseph accounting for half with nine.
James scored 33 points and recorded 11 assists in defeat.
Indiana’s road trip continues on Friday, as they will face the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Game time from Philly is set for 7:00 p.m. as the Pacers look for their fourth consecutive victory.