Wednesday, December 12th at 7:00 PM EST at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: IND 96, CLE 81
by Scott Agness
Back home for two in a row, the Pacers looked to end a two-game skid against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pacers dominated the lane, held the Cavs to 23 points in the second half and coasted to a 96-81 victory to get back to .500.
The Pacers were concerned with Kyrie Irving returning, but it was C.J. Miles – inserted into the starting lineup in place of Daniel Gibson for the second straight night – that burnt the Pacers in the first quarter. After Anderson Varejao connected on two free throws, Miles went off for 16 points in a row for the Cavs, double his season average entering tonight’s game. Ben Hansbrough checked in with 1:38 left in the opening quarter, his first appearance in 10 games. The Cavaliers led 29-25 at the end of the first.
Although the Pacers fell further behind with the second unit on the floor, the group’s intensity level was at another notch, which was to be expected with Tyler and Ben Hansbrough. The brothers accounted for the Pacers' first nine points of the second quarter, but the Cavs remained hot from the floor. They shot 48 percent from the field in the first half, including 7-of-8 from long range, and led by as much as 16 in the second quarter. After Coach Vogel brought the starters back in, they closed the half on a 9-0 run, cutting the deficit to six, 58-52.
The third quarter belonged to the Pacers. They scored the quarter’s first nine points and 18 straight going back to the final 83 seconds of the second. Indiana communicated their defensive rotations and had a hand in front of every shot thrown up. In turn, the Cavs only hit four shots and were outscored 28-12 by the Pacers in the quarter.
Indiana held a 10-point advantage entering the fourth and maintained it most of the way. The Cavs got within seven points twice but never closer as the Pacers got the win 96-81.
Inside the Numbers
Paul George led the Pacers in scoring for the fourth time in the last five games with 27 points. David West flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds and a game-high seven assists.
Playing for the first time with the second unit, Ben Hansbrough had six points, two steals, a rebound and an assist in over 17 minutes. Most importantly, he had zero turnovers.
C.J. Miles scored 28 points, which tied his season-high set last night in a win over the Lakers. Starters Anderson Varejao and Alonzo Gee failed to make a shot, combining to go 0-16 from the field.
Kyrie Irving (nine points) was held under double digits for the second time this year. He’s averaging more than 23 points per contest.
The Pacers scored a season-high 24 fast-break points.
Indiana outscored Cleveland 40-16 in the paint. The Cavs’ 16 points is the fewest allowed by the Pacers this season.
“The answer is to make a calm, mental adjustment and focus on each possession. Do it possession by possession, understanding that our system works. We really buckled down defensively in the second half, holding them to 23 points.” – Frank Vogel on their defense strategy in the second half
“We came in [to the locker room] and talked it out. When we came out in the third, we really started applying pressure to the wings, just making it much more difficult. We were contesting all of their shots and that’s what made it tough for them.” – Paul George on their defense in the second half
“The second half we got up in them and made them do what we wanted them to do instead of what they wanted to do. We turned up the pressure.” – George Hill on the second half
“I’m gonna try to get back as soon as possible. It’s just an ankle sprain. In two days, I think I’ll be alright. I heal real quick.” – Lance Stephenson on his injury
“I felt pretty good. One of the things I really wanted to do was just let the game come to me tonight, not really force anything, make a lot of hustle plays, bring some intensity and that’s what I was able to do.” – Ben Hansbrough on his first night with the second unit
Stat of the Game
The Cavaliers shot 48 percent in the first half on 19-of-40 shooting (for 58 points). In the final two quarters, they shot under 20 percent, making just eight shots on 41 attempts (for 23 points).
- The Pacers have won nine of their last 10 games in the series.
- Cleveland has now lost 15 games in a row within the Central Division.
- Lance Stephenson sustained a moderate sprain to his right ankle early in the third quarter and didn’t return.
- Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson was given a flagrant-one foul for an elbow to Ben Hansbrough in the fourth quarter.
- The Pacers radio team of Mark Boyle and Slick Leonard announced the game from Roy Hibbert’s Area 55.
- IU basketball standout Cody Zeller attended the game to see his brother Tyler. Fever head coach Lin Dunn and Indianapolis’ own Mike Epps were also in attendance.
- The Pacers wore their gold uniforms.