Wednesday, April 11 at Quicken Loans Arena
Game Rewind: Pacers 104, Cavs 98 (OT)
By Conrad Brunner
Given a second chance to close the deal, George Hill did not falter.
After missing three of four free throws in the final minute of regulation to leave the door open for Cleveland to rally and force overtime, Hill nailed a 3-pointer with 53 seconds left in the extra session to put it out of reach as the Pacers pulled out a hard-fought 104-98 victory in Cleveland Wednesday.
Indiana won its sixth in seven games to improve to 36-22. With Milwaukee's 111-107 loss to New York, the Pacers' magic number for clinching a playoff berth is one. The third-place Pacers are two games up on Boston and Atlanta, both 34-24.
Danny Granger scored 23, including five in overtime as the Pacers jumped in front and finally managed to hold onto the lead as Hill's 3-pointer pushed the lead to 104-96 in the final minute.
In regulation, they were up 10 early in the fourth quarter, fell behind by seven and then rallied but failed to protect a four-point lead in the final 24 seconds.
BY THE NUMBERS
Granger scored at least 20 points for the sixth time in seven games, shooting 8-of-18. David West scored 19 on 6-of-9 shooting with five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Hill started at point guard for the second game in a row and had 17 points with five assists and two blocks, while Roy Hibbert had 11 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots. Paul George pulled 10 boards. The Pacers shot 47 percent and committed 19 turnovers.
Antawn Jamison led the Cavs (19-37) with 21 points and eight rebounds. Lester Hudson continued his surprising late-season surge with 19 points and six rebounds but six turnovers. Samardo Samuels scored 13 and Tristan Thompson 10. Cleveland shot 46 percent but shot 2 of 8 in overtime.
"I thought David West’s composure and physicality enabled us to get through (Cleveland’s) run in the fourth quarter when they built up a lead. Obviously, Danny Granger took over in the overtime period with five big points and an assist for a three." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
"(Hill) made some huge plays. He’s down on himself because he missed a free throw late in the game, but I told him he’s the reason we got the lead back. He made some big plays on the defensive end all night." - Vogel
"I just thought we were a little bit more aggressive and fought some of those (post entry) catches. We just made them get a little bit uncomfortable … They’re a good group of guys, in terms of their effort. We know (Antawn) Jamison can play. I thought we were just on our heels. We responded and were able to get into overtime." - West
"We just wanted to make sure we contested every shot, got every rebound and made everything tough for them (in overtime). We wanted to make sure we executed on the offensive end and limit (Cleveland) to one shot, and a tough shot at that. In the timeout (Coach Vogel told us) he wanted us to get the first basket and get the first transition bucket. Those were the things we wanted to check off on our list." - Hibbert
STAT OF THE GAME
The victory gave the Pacers are 17-14 road record, assuring just the fourth winning road record in franchise history. In each of the other three occasions (2003-04, 1998-99 and '98-99) they reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
"We set a goal at the beginning of the season to be at least over .500 on the road," Vogel said. "This was our 17th road win, so we accomplished that goal. We have two road wins we still want to get, but we’re over .500, so (we can) check that off the list."
The Pacers took a 10-point lead on Dahntay Jones' 3-pointer, 78-68 with 11 minutes remaining, but Cleveland came storming back with a devastating 18-1 run fueled by Hudson and Manny Harris, who scored six apiece. The Cavs too an 86-79 lead with 6:02 remaining as the Pacers went nearly seven minutes without a bucket, but that's when the Indiana recovery began.
Hill had a 3-pointer to make a three-point game and consecutive drives that tied it and put the Pacers back in front, 91-89, with 1:15 left. After a Hibbert dunk made it a four-point game with 30 seconds left, Hill had the chance to ice it at the line but missed three of four free throws while the Cavs scored twice -- a three-point play on an offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson and a game-tying drive by Lester Hudson with 1.2 seconds remaining to force overtime.
With an 11-2 run fueled by Hibbert and Granger to open the second half, the Pacers built their biggest lead of the game to that point, 57-48, but the Cavs answered right back with a 10-2 run powered by Jamison to make it a one-point game. A pair of 3-pointers from Barbosa and one from Granger helped the Pacers rebuild a 73-66 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Pacers tried to jump on Cleveland early, opening a 20-13 lead midway through the first quarter but a sloppy second period -- 6-of-18 shooting and six turnovers -- left the door open for the Cavs to recover and they did just that, finishing the half on an 11-4 to tie it at 46-all at halftime.
West accidentally injured the Cavs' mascot during pregame introductions. "Moondog" traditionally engages visiting players and got into a mock bout with West, who inadvertently struck him, injuring the mascot's eye. When told of the injury, West said he felt "terrible" and apologized. ... Both of the Pacers' victories over Cleveland this season have come in overtime. Indiana is 4-1 in overtime games. ... Cavs backup center Semih Erden limped out of the game early in the second quarter after rolling his right ankle n a drive to the basket. ... Hill started his second game in a row in place of Collison, who went through shootaround Wednesday morning but reported tenderness in the groin. Vogel said he expects Collison to play Friday in the rematch against the Cavs in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. … Cleveland was without two starters, point guard Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and power forward Anderson Varejao (wrist).
These teams meet again Friday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse (7 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93 FM). It's the final game of the season between the Pacers and Cavs.