Final Dime: Cavaliers 99, Pacers 94
Antawn Jamison finished with 17 points and nine boards in Wednesday's win.
David Liam Kyle
The Central showdown wasn’t a thing of beauty and the Cavaliers narrowly escaped a furious Pacers rally. But in the end, it was win No. 54 as Cleveland topped Indy – 99-94 – on Wednesday night at The Q.
The Cavs led by only two, 50-48, at intermission. But they came out of the locker room on fire – going on a 19-4 run to take a 17-point edge halfway through the third quarter.
Cleveland led by 16 heading into the fourth, but by the midway point of the period, Indiana had cut the Cavs’ lead to just five – 88-83. And when Earl Watson sank a 19-footer with 4:52 to play, the Pacers trailed by just a point.
But as they had the night before, LeBron James took over in crunch time – either scoring or assisting on the Wine and Gold’s final 11 points as the Cavaliers weathered the Pacers’ late run to take their fifth straight victory; 10th in their last 11 outings.
“We don’t play to our opponent’s record; we play to our abilities because we know what we need to do to get better,” said James. “We can’t afford at this point in the season to take a step back.”
Sticking with a recent trend, LeBron netted 20 of his 32 points in the second half – going 11-for-24 from the floor overall. James barely missed his second-straight triple-double, finishing with nine boards, nine assists, three steals and a pair of blocked shots.
Antawn Jamison followed up with 17 points and nine boards of his own – going an efficient 7-for-12 from the floor. Rounding out the Cavaliers starting frontcourt, J.J. Hickson pitched in with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Once again, Anderson Varejao was the Cavs’ catalyst off the bench, adding 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 28 frenetic minutes off Mike Brown’s bench. Delonte West followed up with nine points, four boards and a steal.
Other than dominating the Pacers in the paint – 56-30 – the game was as statistically close as the final score would indicate. Cleveland shot 55 percent in the third quarter, but allowed Indy to shoot 59 percent in the fourth.
“It’s that time of the year where you find teams that are out of the playoffs and these are their playoff games,” reasoned Mo Williams, who finished with seven points and seven assists.
With two opponents down, the Cavaliers will play two more games this week against the Central Division. On Friday night, they travel to the Windy City to take on the reeling Bulls before returning to The Q for a rematch with Detroit on Sunday evening.
2. The Cavaliers have now won 10 straight home games against Indiana at The Q – fourth straight overall against Indy. The last time the Pacers came to Cleveland and left with a win was November 3, 2004, when the gym was still called Gund Arena.
3. Cleveland’s record against sub-.500 teams is now 29-3 this season. They haven’t lost to a losing team since November 18 against the Wizards – a string of 24 straight.
4. LeBron James finished with 32 points and needs just three more to become the youngest player to reach the 15,000-point plateau. LeBron did dent the record books on Wednesday – passing Jim Chones for fourth on the franchise’s all-time rebound list with now 3,974 boards.
5. Anderson Varejao continues his hot run. The Wild Thing has now scored in double figures in 10 of his last 12 outings – averaging 12.3 points on .708 shooting and 8.2 rebounds over that stretch.
6. Delonte West returned after resting his left knee on Tuesday night at the Palace. On Wednesday, West went 4-of-10 from the floor for nine points in 25 minutes.
7. The Cavaliers play just one more back-to-back in the final 13 games of the season and are now 11-6 on the second night of the set.
8. On Wednesday, the Cavaliers clinched the Central Division for the second straight season and the third time in franchise history. Before securing the Central last year, Cleveland was in the midst of a 33-year drought, last winning in 1975-76.
9. Since Mike Brown took over to start the 2005-06 season, the Cavaliers are an NBA-best 53-18 during the month of March. At home during that span in March, the Cavs are 35-4 and have won 16 straight at The Q
10. The Cavaliers’ all-time record on St. Patrick’s Day is now 14-7.