Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: IND 99, CLE 94
Scott Agness | April 9, 2013
The Pacers were in a rut. They had lost their past two games by 22 and 19.
Trailing by 15 with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter and with just one field goal over a 4:28 period, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel knew his team needed something to change the game.
That’s when he decided to pull the trigger. Vogel unloaded on an official, received two technical fouls and would watch the remainder of the game back in his office.
The Pacers (49-29) went on to outscore the Cleveland Cavaliers 35-10 over the final 12 minutes in what Roy Hibbert called an epic comeback. “Stuck in mud” through the first three quarters, according to Vogel, the Pacers completed a 20-point comeback and ended a two-game skid with a 99-94 victory over the Cavaliers (49-29) on Tuesday night.
Related: A Win for the Ages »
As the Pacers were gathered together on the bench after three quarters and looked up to the scoreboard, they were behind 84-64. But it’s the NBA, where no lead is safe.
“We were saying all quarter that we could still win this game,” said George Hill. “With (David) West and myself, I challenged everybody to take things away, play with a little bit more fire and we knew that if we could get stops then we could get out on a break, that we could cut that lead.
“We said just look at everything in three-minute increments, and just keep cutting it down, keep cutting it down. If continued to do that, we thought they’d start to fold and the pressure got to them.”
Slowly, and with different lineups, the Pacers crept back. Midway through the fourth, Hill and Lance Stephenson sparked the turn of events in the open floor. Those two scored eight straight, part of a 17-0 run, to trim the Cavaliers’ lead to three.
Later, despite three consecutive empty possessions on offense, it was the Pacers’ defense that gave them a shot. West hedged a pick-and-roll, forcing Kyrie Irving to get rid of it. Stephenson stepped in front and intercepted the pass and threw it ahead to Hill who made the layup and was fouled. Irving, who chalked up a game-high 29 points and seven assists (plus eight turnovers) then hit a pair of foul shots after being fouled by West.
The next two plays, one at each end, defined the game. Out of a timeout and with the Pacers trailing by one, Hill drove down the left side and sent it to Paul George who was open in the corner. He sank it, putting the Pacers up for good.
George, who was 3-for-5 and scored 11 of his 14 points in the fourth, said he had a positive mindset when the Hill found him in the corner. “I told myself as that ball was traveling towards me, ‘This one’s got to go down.’”
At the other end, Irving again attacked, but this time he ran into an unlikely Pacers player – Jeff Pendergraph. Associate head coach Brian Shaw went with Pendergraph instead of Roy Hibbert for most of the fourth and it paid off. Pendergraph got into perfect position during Irving's drive and forced a critical charging foul that changed the game.
“It was huge,” said Pendergraph, who played the final 8:08. “I took it and once I looked over, I knew it. You could just feel it in the air. The momentum just totally shifted.”
On the next play, he was fouled and hit 1-of-2 free throw attempts. Wayne Ellington’s 3-pointer was off the mark and the Pacers completed an inspirational comeback.
Again, everything changed when a usually reserved Vogel was tossed.
“Sometimes you’ve got to change the game,” he said with a grin postgame. “I knew there was a lot of time left. I just felt like if we did something dramatic to change the game, maybe something different happens. Because the way it was going, it wasn’t going very well.”
George Hill, who scored a team-high 27 points, agreed.
“The turning point was when coach was ejected. He showed us that that’s the type of passion that you have to play with.”
The Pacers needed a bounce back win and they got it in an unusual form. Their recent play will be addressed, but a win like this has the potential to provide the late-season lift this team is desperate for.
With the win, the Pacers can lock up the three-seed in the East with a victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.
Inside the Numbers
David West had 15 points and nine rebounds. Tyler Hansbrough scored 12 points, nine coming in the third quarter. Tyler Zeller scored 18 points before fouling out after 30 minutes of action.
The Pacers scored a season-high 33 fast break points, seven above their second-best output.
Related: A Win for the Ages »
The Cavaliers committed seven turnovers in the final 12 minutes, leading to 11 Indiana points. With 14 steals, the Pacers are now 11-1 when totaling 10+ takeaways.
Tonight’s 20-point lead is the second largest deficit the Pacers have overcome this season, behind their game in New Orleans, in which they fell behind by 22 and won 81-75.
The Pacers won for only the fifth time this season while trailing in the final quarter.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are now 3-4 this season when they’ve held at least a 20-point lead.
“We recognize we’re not playing real well right now. It’s good to learn lessons, get a wake-up call and still get a W.” – Frank Vogel
“We know that’s how we play ball – smothering defense and we play for one another. We share the ball, we get guys open. That whole fourth quarter sums up how we won 48 other games.” – Paul George
“I didn’t feel like we had any rhythm ... I don’t think we were playing with any type of gut.” – George Hill said of their recent slide
“A comeback like that shows how tight we are. That’s not easy to do. Games like that can crack teams, especially right now this close to the end of the season but it brought us together.” - Jeff Pendergraph
“It came down to effort … We all took our foot off the gas, and you can’t do that, especially against a playoff team like these guys.” – Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving
Stat of the Game
The Pacers outscored the Cavaliers 31-6 over the final 8:38 of the game.
- The Pacers swept the season series and have now won 12 of the last 13 meetings.
- Cleveland was without Daniel Gibson, C.J. Miles, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao and Luke Walton because of injuries.
- With nine technical fouls, Frank Vogel has the most of any coach.
- David West and Tristan Thompson exchanged words in the second quarter and a double-technical was handed out.
- Marreese Speights was given a flagrant-1 foul for striking Lance Stephenson in the face at the hoop.
- Larry Bird was in attendance, his first game since stepping down as team president in June. Former NBA standout Tracy McGrady was also seated courtside.
Next Home Game
Tickets are still available for the Pacers' next home game, Friday, April 12 against the Brooklyn Nets at 7:00 PM. Find Tickets »