Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 3:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 91, Cavaliers 76
Scott Agness | December 31, 2013
The Pacers sought to finish 2013 on a high note, and they knew containing Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving was imperative to make that happen.
One game after slowing Brooklyn’s Deron Williams, George Hill had another tough assignment. He held Irving to 10 points and the Cavaliers failed to get anything going in the fourth quarter. The Pacers (25-5) surged ahead and captured the 91-76 win in front of a sellout crowd, the team’s 10th of the season, which matches last year’s total.
Going into the New Year, Indiana is tied with Oklahoma City for the best record in the NBA, and has posted its best record after 30 games in franchise history.
The Cavaliers (10-21) jumped out to a 17-9 advantage and led for all but 99 seconds in the opening quarter. Fouling too frequently, the Pacers allowed the Cavaliers to get to the line seven times and Cleveland hit every one. As he typically does, Roy Hibbert, who finished with 19 points, excelled early on and had nine points but the Pacers trailed by two after the first quarter, 25-23.
Points were hard to come by for both teams before the half. They suffered through dry spells of more than four and half minutes each. Though the lead went back and forth, the Pacers, who were outrebounded by 10 through two quarters, were in a three-point hole at the break. In his fifth game back from injury, Danny Granger looked comfortable and wasn’t forcing things. He made all three of his shots inside the arc, plus a pair of foul shots for eight of the Pacers’ 18 points in the second.
The Pacers scored the first six points of the second half and David West provided a steady hand. He had eight in the quarter, including back-to-back buckets — one on an extraordinary pass from Paul George, who moved the defense with his eyes and then sent a one-handed dart to West for the flush. The Pacers gained some ground in the third but would head into the final period behind by one.
Indiana native Tyler Zeller scored the first bucket of the final period and then it was all Pacers after that. The Pacers went on a 15-4 run, which was topped off by five points from Hill — first a 3-pointer, then a layup on the run.
The Pacers outscored the Cavaliers, who went 3-for-16 from the field and turned it over seven times, 26-10 in the fourth on way to their fifth victory in a row and eight straight over their division foe.
After the game, the Pacers boarded their charter jet and took off for Toronto, as they’ll face the Raptors for the second time this season Wednesday night.
Inside the Numbers
Despite an off night shooting the ball from outside (2-of-11), Paul George finished with 21 points to lead all scorers. Roy Hibbert added 19, plus five blocks — the eighth time this season he’s blocked five or more shots in a game. George Hill chipped in 13 points and six rebounds.
Danny Granger matched his season-high with 12 points off the bench, including a perfect 6-for-6 outing at the foul line.
Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao posted his sixth double-double of the season, with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Dion Waiters had 12 points, and Tristan Thompson tallied seven points and grabbed 13 boards.
The Pacers outscored the Cavaliers 42-26 inside the paint, improving their record to 16-1 when they have a positive margin in the restricted area.
With the 15-point win, all five wins on the Pacers’ streak have been by 14 or more points.
“Tonight’s games was a perfect example of how you can still go out and win a basketball game when your shots not falling. Aside from George Hill, it seemed like nobody could make a perimeter shot and it was just one of those nights offensively from the field so you got to win the game in other ways.” – Frank Vogel
“I thought what George Hill did was as special of performance as we’ve seen all year, with his defense on Kyrie Irving. … He’s impossible to screen, he gets over everything and he’s got the length and just did a great job on Kyrie all night.” – Frank Vogel on George Hill
“I just know he’s the head of the snake. To kill a snake, you got to take the head off and that’s what I tried to do. I tried to make it tough for him, even if the ball was out of his hands.” – George Hill on defending Irving
“I think we stepped up a little bit, really getting into them, being in the gaps and helping each other, but also when you’re moving the ball on the offensive end and really making them scramble and work, it kind of takes your legs and your attitude for the defense end. I think that’s what helped us.” – George Hill on the fourth quarter
“I think our pressure was the key tonight. In that fourth quarter, I pulled George [Hill] aside and I pulled Lance [Stephenson] aside and told them, ‘We got to pressure up on the wings because this team is a guard-oriented team. I think that was the changing point of tonight.” – Paul George
“You have to give Indiana credit. They were doing what championship level teams do. The sense of urgency defensively that was there especially in the fourth quarter for them, you have to give them credit for turning it up a couple notches and taking us out of whatever we were trying to execute.” – Cavaliers coach Mike Brown
Stat of the Game
Over the last 10 games, the Cavaliers had averaged 106 points and nine 3-pointers. The Pacers held them 30 points below that (76) and to just one 3-pointer on 12 tries.
- Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving sustained a left knee injury in the third quarter and needed assistance back to the locker room. He returned to the game, but admitted postgame that he felt something pop and that his knee still didn’t feel right. He has an MRI scheduled for Wednesday.
- The Sugarhill Gang performed at halftime.
The Pacers head to Toronto, where they'll open the new year against the Raptors on Wednesday night. Tip off is at 7 p.m. EST. Game Preview »