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Saturday night’s contest wasn’t a thing of beauty for either team, but it got really ugly for the Wine and Gold late in the third quarter, as the Pacers used a 19-3 run to start the fourth and pull away from the Cavaliers to seal a 102-79 win at The Q.
In a game that featured 67 personal fouls – including 19 by the Cavs in the third quarter) – and saw both squads shoot 9-for-47 from beyond the arc, it was the Pacers that eventually won the war of attrition. By the fourth quarter, Mike Brown – who had planned to watch his starters finish the game – had emptied his bench. Earl Clark was the only starter to see action in the final period.
Three Cavaliers finished with double-figures, led by Kyrie Irving, who notched 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Irving added five boards, five assists, a steal and a blocked shot. He was also one of three starters who left the game with five personal fouls in three quarters of work. Two other Cavaliers – Henry Sims and rookie Anthony Bennett – fouled out off the bench.
“(Coach Brown) told the starters to be ready to play in the fourth quarter, but we just wanted the second unit to learn,” said Irving. “That’s an Eastern Conference Finals team. (The Pacers) are a veteran team. They definitely picked up their physicality.”
Like most of his teammates, Bennett struggled shooting from the floor – going just 3-of-11 – but he was the only player on either squad to notch a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 10 boards.
Tristan Thompson added 11 points of his own, going 3-of-4 from the floor and adding eight boards and a blocked shot.
Dion Waiters was the only other Cavalier in double-figures with 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting.
The Wine and Gold shot just 30 percent from the field on Saturday night. They were 3-of-21 (14 percent) from long-distance and committed 22 turnovers. The Cavs made only 23 field goals, but were aided by 41 trips to the free throw line. (Unfortunately, the Pacers made 42.)
The Cavaliers led by four after one quarter and by three at intermission. They kept the Pacers at bay through most of the third period, but Indy turned up the pressure on Cleveland’s youngsters in the final two minutes of the quarter and went into the fourth ahead, 69-65.
“I put the young fellas in towards the end of the third quarter, Indiana turned it up and our young guys were a little shell-shocked and they didn’t know what hit them,” said Coach Brown. “Obviously, having six or seven turnovers towards the end of the quarter opened it up and gave Indiana confidence like it should because they’re a veteran team. They’ve been there and done that. They took advantage of the situation and jumped on us.”
The loss drops Cleveland’s preseason record to 3-2 while the Pacers notched their first win of the year.
The Cavaliers round out the exhibition season this week with three games in four nights. They take on the Sixers in Columbus on Monday night and face the Wizards two nights later in Cincinnati. The following evening, they head to Charlotte in the final tune-up before the regular season tips off on October 30.