In what may be remembered as the best 12 minutes of defense played by Indiana this season, the Pacers held the Cleveland Cavaliers to just 16 points in the fourth quarter, grinding out a 106-102 win to snap the Cleveland's 13-game winning streak, denying the Cavs a franchise-record 14th victory in a row.
The Pacers (15-11) weren't alone in their defensive prowess, with the Cavs (18-8) limiting Indiana to just 17 points of its own in the final frame.
But the impressive team effort was enough to eek out the win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night as the packed building rocked with excitement as Indiana toppled the reigning Eastern Conference Champions.
"It's just pure will and grit," said Myles Turner, who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. "We just locked in and got the job done."
The Pacers led 96-92 with 3:03 left in the game, but JR Smith delivered in the clutch for Cleveland, drilling a 3-pointer to bring the score to a one-point game.
The Pacers answered right back, with Bojan Bogdanovic sending in a shot from the wing to put Indiana up 99-95 with just over two minutes left in the game.
After recovering an offensive rebound, Victor Oladipo — who electrified with a game-high 33 points — got fouled and was sent to the line, sinking one of two free throws to give Indiana a five-point cushion.
On the other end, it was LeBron James who responded, grabbing a missed shot and sending it up and in to tighten things up.
With the crowd on its feet and the building rocking with energy, Oladipo slammed the brakes on his defender, then rose up and connected on a 3-pointer from the wing without hesitation, putting Indiana up by six with 1:01 remaining.
"He's been playing with a great deal of confidence and tonight was no different," said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan at his postgame press conference. "He struggled at the free throw line, but remained aggressive. But he's still learning about what he's capable of doing. And tonight was an example of us putting the ball in his hands in the fourth quarter, late in the game and then he has to make the reads as far as if he has an advantage, creating opportunities for us and he was able to do that."
On defense, Indiana stymied Cleveland again, getting another chance to convert on offense. But the Pacers were unable to take advantage, as James — who finished with a team-high 29 points — picked up the pace in transition and ran into the teeth of Indiana's defense, sending in a layup with 21.3 left on the clock and the Pacers leading by four.
With the shot clock switched off, the Cavaliers were forced to foul Oladipo once Indiana inbounded the ball. At the line, Oladipo made one of two to go up 104-99.
In desperation time, JR Smith hit a prayer of a 3-pointer from the corner, but Cory Joseph iced the game at the line, nailing both free throws to go back up by four with 8.5 seconds left and the game essentially in hand.
Oladipo was simply sensational for the Blue & Gold in the second half, racking up 25 points in the final two quarters as Indiana snapped Cleveland's winning streak in front of a deafening home crowd in its biggest win of the year.
"I thought he made some shots … then kind of opened up his drive," Cavalieres head coach Turonn Lue explained. "So we had to get closer to him, he got into the paint, he got some foul calls, he just had it going, and like I said before the game, he's playing well."
The Pacers began their night on the right note, opening up a 13-2 lead which included a barrage of 3-pointers; two from Darren Collison and one from Turner as the home crowd got involved early.
But the Cavs quickly began to erase their deficit as James splashed a 3-pointer from the corner then followed it up with an and-1 over Bogdanovic to put the Cavaliers up by three.
Turner got the final points of the first quarter for the Pacers, connecting on a jumper to bring Indiana within one of the lead, trailing 33-32 after 12 minutes.
With both benches in the game, Cleveland opened up a five-point lead following a Channing Frye bucket from the elbow. But with Cleveland leading 41-36, Indiana's bench cracked open a 9-2 run, regaining the lead midway through the quarter.
In the final minutes of the first half, with both starting units returned to the game, Cleveland began to edge in front, forcing a Pacers timeout with 2:19 left following a jumper from James that put the visitors up 58-55. The Cavs built more separation from there, opening up a 63-57 lead after one half of play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana exited the locker room with bruising defense, holding Cleveland without a point for the first 2:34 of the third quarter as the Pacers connected on two 3-pointers to knot the game at 63.
In the first half, Oladipo had been held in check, scoring just eight points. But in the third quarter, the IU-product was unstoppable for the Pacers, scoring 20 of Indiana's 32 points as the Pacers wrested back the lead from the Cavaliers.
The loudest eruption of the crowd during the frame occurred when Turner delivered a slick pass to Domantas Sabonis, who sent home the bucket and got fouled in the process. The basket gave Indiana a 3-point lead as Oladipo hyped up the crowd at halfcourt.
After Bogdanovic hit a runner while falling to his right, Indiana led 89-86 entering the fourth quarter of action at The Fieldhouse.
The Pacers started the fourth with a solid stretch of play, scoring four unanswered to go up by seven before Cleveland reinserted James into the game.
Indiana's defense to start the fourth was stout, holding the Cavaliers to just one point in the first 5:04 of the quarter. Unfortunately for the Pacers, Cleveland's defense was sound as well, limiting the Pacers to four points over the same time frame.
Following a timeout, James and the Cavaliers started to threaten the lead, getting the the score to a one-point game as JR Smith sent home a 3-pointer with under three minutes remaining.
But down the stretch, as Bankers Life Fieldhouse reached peak volume, Oladipo and the Pacers managed to close out its biggest win of the season, snapping Cleveland's impressive streak and opening up a three-game run of wins of its own in the process.
Despite being on a run of good play, however, Oladipo was adamant that Friday's win was just another game — that this season's group still has a long way to go before they can be boastful.
"We haven't done anything," said Oladipo matter-of-factly. "We just win games, take it one day at a time. It was just another game that we had to go out there and compete and win. We did a great job going out there and playing as a team, working hard, and getting a win. We'll have to do the same thing again Sunday. It's basketball, it's the NBA, it's a lot of games
Inside the Numbers
Victor Oladipo's six 3-pointers tied his career best.
After Indiana trailed by six points, 73-79, with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter, the Pacers went on a 20-6 run to build a seven-point advantage, 93-86, with 9:43 left in the game.
The Pacers outrebounded Cleveland 50-44, included 12-9 on the offensive glass.
Indiana only turned the ball over 10 times.
You Can Quote Me On That
"(Victor Oladipo) is now seeing the best defender each night. And he is seeing teams double-team and the game plan is to take him out. He hasn't had that. When he was in OKC, the game plan was focused more on Westbrook. In Orlando, he was just a young player. Now he is seeing defenders like a LeBron, like a DeRozan … he is seeing the best defender and then he's seeing teams' game plan is to take him out. So, learning how to play and be consistent every night with that challenge is something that he's going through. And it's not going to change for him." -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan
"It's the best (locker room) I've had so far. Everybody's energy is just incredible. I mean, there's never really an off day. Someone's always bringing energy. Some days when we're just sitting and talking, if it's Al, Vic, I mean everybody, can bring it at any moment. That's what I love about this locker room, Someone, somewhere is going to get us up somehow." -Myles Turner
"(Oladipo's) gotten the opportunity from Nate McMillan and their guys and they've given him the confidence to go out, no matter make or miss, to get a good look and keep shooting." -Cavaliers forward LeBron James
- The Pacers are 2-0 against the Cavaliers this season and now lead the all-time series 96-95
- Cleveland went just 11-of-36 from long range. Indiana was 15-of-39
- LeBron James nearly notched a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists
Stat of the Night
Cory Joseph led the Pacers in plus-minus with +16. For the second game in a row, Joseph was on the floor to close out the game.
The Pacers aim to stay perfect on their six-game homestand with a Sunday evening meeting against the Denver Nuggets. Find Tickets »
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