INDIANAPOLIS – These Indiana Pacers (15-11) are fun. And on Friday night, they earned a signature win.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers (18-8) in town and gunning for a franchise record 14th straight win, Indy stood tall. Victor Oladipo‘s three-pointer with 1:01 remaining served as one of the final blows to the Cavs, as the Pacers escaped with an impressive 106-102 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
With the win, the Pacers are now 2-0 this season against the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions. The Blue and Gold also defeated the Cavaliers in Cleveland on November 1.
Friday’s contest was a back-and-forth affair, but the Pacers jumped out to an early lead. Indiana opened the game on a 13-2 run, firing up the crowd right away. Cleveland was not phased, though, fighting right back to get into the game. Led by superstar LeBron James, the Cavs actually held the lead after the first quarter at 33-32.
In the second quarter, Indy’s bench had the advantage. Cory Joseph was hot, especially from downtown with a pair of threes, putting the Pacers ahead as the half winded down. Once each side’s starters returned, however, the Cavaliers regained some control. Cleveland went into the break with a six-point edge, 63-57.
The third quarter was a turning point in Friday’s game, as Oladipo heated up and shot Indiana in front. Indy drilled a pair of three-pointers to start the third, tying the score at 63, and then Oladipo went to work. The former Indiana University standout scored 20 of the Pacers’ 32 third quarter points, as the home team took a 89-86 lead into the fourth.
With James on the bench to begin the fourth quarter, Indiana was able to stretch their lead to seven. Neither team had it going offensively though, as just five points were scored (4-1, Pacers) in the first five minutes of the final period. The final tally for the fourth was only 17-16, Indy.
Friday’s game was tight down the stretch, as the Pacers and Cavs traded buckets as crunch time neared. Then with 1:01 remaining and a 100-97 Indiana advantage, Oladipo struck again. Just like he did in Wednesday’s win over Chicago, Oladipo pulled up for a clutch three and drained it.
Indiana was not great at the line (15-for-24), but nailed enough free throws late to hold off the Cavaliers. Following a JR Smith three that cut Cleveland’s deficit to two, Joseph went 2-for-2 from the stripe with 8.5 seconds to go to put this one away.
Oladipo led all scorers on Friday with 33 points. He also added eight rebounds and five assists to cap another spectacular night. Five other Pacers also scored in double-figures, led by Myles Turner‘s 15.
For the Cavs, James had a typical great night. The four-time NBA MVP scored 29 points, grabbed ten rebounds and fell just two assists shy of a triple-double with eight.
Halfway through this season-long six-game homestand, the Pacers sit at 3-0. They will be back in action on Sunday evening, taking on the Denver Nuggets in a 5:00 p.m. clash at the Fieldhouse.