Cavs Drop OT Thriller in Indy

Kyrie Irving led the Wine and Gold with 20 points in Friday's loss.
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If you’re Kyrie Irving, it’s better to get this one out of the way early.

With 4.4 seconds to play in regulation and the game tied at 84-apiece, the Cavaliers precocious point guard used an Anderson Varejao screen, split Roy Hibbert and Paul George, and cut through the paint with time expiring. He laid the potential game-winner on the iron with his left hand, but it bounced around the rim and out at the buzzer.

The crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse exhaled and the two clubs went to an extra session. In OT, Danny Granger gave the Pacers an early lead, but Anthony Parker’s three-pointer swung the edge back to Cleveland. David West struck back, though, followed by a pair of buckets by Granger – who notched nine points in overtime to ensure Indiana the 98-91 win.

Irving led five Cavaliers in double-figures with 20 points, going 8-for-19 from the floor, adding five boards, four assists, a steal and a blocked shot. He was the driving engine behind the Wine and Gold’s valiant effort on Friday night.

“I got a great look at it,” said Irving. “I just wish it would have went down, but it didn’t. My teammates fought hard; we left it all on the floor out there. Now we have to go back to Cleveland and watch film on this game and try to get better from it.”

The matchup – easily the most entertaining of this young season – was a see-saw affair in the
second half.

After leading through the entire first stanza, the Pacers opened the second half strong and, by the end of the third, had extended their lead to nine – 70-61.

But the Cavaliers would not go away.

Trailing 75-64 with just over ten minutes to play, Cleveland went on a 16-5 run to tie the score at 80-80 with just over two minutes to play. The two clubs traded free throws before Irving’s near miss at the end of regulation.

Anderson Varejao had his best game of the young season – doubling up with 14 points and 13 boards. Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison added a dozen points apiece and Alonzo Gee came off the bench to add 10 points, five boards and four helpers.

The Cavaliers return home to face the Nets on New Year’s Day at The Q – their second-last home game before departing on a seven-game, 13-day road trip.

  • Despite having a fine game, Anderson Varejao took a beating on Friday night. On back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, the Wild Thing turned his ankle, collided knees with Hibbert and was the victim of a flagrant foul with 6:31 remaining in the third that saw him land squarely on his lower back. The big Brazilian was moving slowly in the postgame locker room.

  • The Cavs can point to poor free throw shooting for part of Friday’s loss. As a team, they went 18-for-31 (58 percent) from the stripe. The Pacers were 24-of-32 for an even 75 percent.

  • Indy’s big men – Hibbert, David West and Tyler Hansbrough – managed to get under Samardo Samuels’ skin in the fourth quarter. He picked up three fouls in the fourth quarter and fouled out with 9:25 to play. Coach Pressey took the big man aside to cool him down when he reached the bench.

  • The Cavaliers came into Friday night’s contest leading the league in bench scoring at 53.5 points per game, but Cleveland’s reserves tallied just 29 points on Friday.

  • Since 1998-99, the Pacers-Cavs series has been characterized by big swings. From ‘88-89 through 2004-05, Indiana won 22 of 27. The Cavaliers won 16 of 19 from October 2005 through March 2010. Including Friday night’s loss, the Pacers have now won six straight.

  • On Friday morning, Kyrie Irving talked about still getting advice from his college coach, Mike Krzyzewski, who told him to pick up his pace after watching Monday’s opener. Prior to Friday’s game, Coach Scott was asked about the conversations he’s had with Coach K about the Cavs point guard.

    “We had great conversation about Kyrie,” said Scott. “One thing he told me was, ‘I only had him for 11 games, so there’s some things I don’t know.’ Obviously I’ll have to find out on my own. For the most part he gave me great insight into Kyrie as a person and basketball player that I thought was helpful.”

  • Despite playing the second half with a sprained right ring finger, Boobie Gibson turned in another strong all-around performance. On the defensive end, he and Anthony Parker held Indiana’s two-guards to a combined 7-for-23 shooting. Offensively, Gibson drilled a pair of big threes and snagged seven more boards. (After grabbing six on Wednesday night in Motown.)