Ilgauskas Free Throws Lift Cavs Past Pacers
Cleveland 93, Indiana 89
INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 27 (Ticker) -- Zydrunas Ilgauskas succeeded where LeBron James failed.
Ilgauskas made 12-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter and covered for his superstar teammate as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight game, a 93-89 victory over the shorthanded Indiana Pacers.
The Cavaliers squandered an eight-point lead early in the fourth quarter and trailed, 87-84, after David Harrison picked up a loose ball fumbled by James and put in a layup with 1:58 to go.
Ilgauskas answered with two free throws and teammate Damon Jones stole a pass and split a pair from the line to tie it with 1:23 remaining. After Indiana's Stephen Jackson missed a jumper, Ilgauskas drew another foul and sank two more free throws to give Cleveland the lead for good at 89-87 with 41 seconds to play.
"I was able to get good post position a lot tonight," Ilgauskas said. "I got into the middle, got fouled, and was able to knock them down."
Rookie Danny Granger, who had career highs of 21 points and 14 rebounds, missed a 3-pointer and James was fouled. He barely hit the rim on the first attempt but made the second.
"I think I've been playing LeBron too much, but I say that every game," Brown said.
A driving scoop shot by rookie Sarunas Jasikevicius made it a one-point game with 10 seconds left and Mike Brown called timeout to re-insert Ilgauskas - and draw up a play to get him the ball. The 7-3 center took the inbounds pass and a foul before calmly knocking down two more from the line.
"I guess the coaches made a good choice," Ilgauskas said.
"The coaches have been doing a great job of putting us in a position to win," James said. "We've been doing a great job of executing it. Z did that tonight."
Indiana's Austin Croshere missed a potential tying 3-pointer and James sealed it with a free throw. In the fourth quarter, Cleveland scored 26 points, 15 on free throws, including its last nine.
"We've been doing a great job of closing out games on the road lately," James said. "It's tough playing the same team twice (in a one-week span). We didn't want to put too much pressure on ourselves because of the guys they are missing. We tried come out and play like they had everyone."
The Cavaliers took advantage of the Pacers, who learned Thursday they would be without leading scorer and rebounder Jermaine O'Neal for at least eight weeks due to a torn groin. They also were without Peja Stojakovic, who was acquired in Wednesday's deal that sent Ron Artest to Sacramento but arrived too late to play Friday.
"We played hard for the most part, but that has to be a constant," said Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, whose team was outscored, 24-11, from the foul line. "We gave ourselves a chance to win, but had execution problems down the stretch. It's a game of inches for us right now and we have to be better."
Fred Jones scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and Jasikevicius and Jackson added 14 apiece for Indiana, which never led in the first three quarters and dropped its season-high fifth straight game.
"Considering that our best guy is out for a while, we need other guys to step up," Jones said. "We all need to put more on our shoulders. Not individual basketball, but playing collectively as a team. Everybody needs to bring their level to another level."
Jones appeared to do that in the fourth quarter. He made a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 74-71, then another to tie it at 78-78 with seven minutes to go.
After a jumper by James, Granger sank a 3-pointer to give Indiana its first lead of the game with 6:01 to play. There were four more lead changes before Harrison's hoop.
"We had a lot of chances to win this game, but we didn't make the plays down the stretch," Granger said. "With Jamaal (Tinsley) and Jermaine out, we're looking for scorers and I tried to be a little more aggressive tonight than I would have been had they been on the floor."