Not even Malcolm Brogdon’s game-high 30 points and 10 assists could overcome the Indiana Pacers’ early foul trouble against the young Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tristan Thompson scored 25 points, Kevin Love scored 21 and fell one assist shy of a triple-double to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1) to a 110-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers (0-2). The Cavs outscored the Blue & Gold 39-20 in the second quarter and once led by as many as 24 points in the third. Six Pacers players scored in double figures, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
The Pacers sprinted out to a 5-0 lead after Myles Turner found Brogdon for a wide open 3-point shot on the left wing. On the next Cavaliers possession, Domantas Sabonis poked the ball free to Edmond Sumner. Sumner – who started in place of Jeremy Lamb – dribbled the length of the floor and threw a back pass to Sabonis for the easy dunk. It was a much more pleasant start to the game after falling into a 6-0 hole against the Pistons three days ago. But what appeared to be a spark in the team’s chemistry soon fizzled out.
And the fouls began racking up.
The Pacers committed seven fouls in the first six minutes of the game and 12 in the first quarter to put themselves in a tough spot early. The Cavaliers took 16 attempts from the charity stripe in the first quarter, converting on 10 of them.
But despite the number of fouls, the Pacers found ways to play a tight game in the first quarter. First, Sumner dove to rescue a ball from going out of bounds which led to an easy T.J. Warren to give the Pacers a 19-18 lead with 4:59 remaining.
Later, with the Cavaliers leading 24-21 and 2:16 remaining on the clock, Pacers’ first-round draft pick Goga Bitadze checked into the game for his first regular season action. Bitadze’s presence was noticeable immediately as he scored an easy layup off a lob pass from TJ Leaf to cut the Cavs lead to 24-23. He scored the first two points of his NBA career in 16 seconds of game time.
T.J. McConnell also provided some spark for the Blue & Gold as the quarter came to a close. After Bitadze’s layup, McConnell found Doug McDermott at the top of the key for a 3-pointer that put the Pacers in front 26-24. With 28.5 seconds left, McConnell then sank a beautiful fadeaway jumper to give the Pacers a 28-26 lead as the quarter came to a close.
And then the weight the fouls carried forced a change in the second.
Fearing more whistles, the Pacers were forced to play softer defense throughout the second quarter. The Cavaliers started out the second quarter with five straight points in 51 seconds to regain the lead 31-28.
To make matters worse, during the stretch Bitadze appeared to be limping as he tried to get back for the next defensive possession. Though he altered Jordan Clarkson’s shot and gathered the rebound, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan called a timeout with 10:07 remaining in the half to settle his team down and replace him. Bitadze then headed to the locker room with a sore right knee and did not return to the game.
The Cavaliers then went on a 21-4 run over the next 5:32 that included a stretch of 17 straight unanswered points. The lead grew to as many as 21 before back-to-back buckets from Sumner and Brogdon cut the lead down to 62-45 with 43.6 seconds remaining. Brogdon later sank a 3-point shot with 2.1 seconds remaining to keep the deficit at 17 as the halftime buzzer sounded. The Cavs finished the quarter on 14-for-24 shooting (58.3 percent).
The fouls continued as Sumner quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls in less than two minutes of third quarter action and was forced to sit. The Cavaliers began the third on a 9-2 run to stretch the lead to 74-50 before Brogdon drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing to stop the bleeding temporarily with 8:19 remaining in the quarter.
Throughout the game, the former Milwaukee Buck seemed to be the only Pacer player to find the bottom of the net. With 5:21 remaining in the fourth, Brogdon scored his eighth point of the third quarter and 21st point of the game to shrink the Cavs lead to 78-63. But the team as a whole failed to reduce the lead to anything fewer than 15 for the rest of the quarter. Every time the Pacers attempted to make a run, the Cavaliers had an answer, matching the Pacers shot-for-shot down the final stretch of the third quarter to take a 90-74 lead into the fourth.
Brogdon once again gave Pacers fans something to watch in the early moments of the fourth. He scored the Pacers’ first five points of the fourth quarter to quickly cut the deficit to 92-79. Then, after a bad pass by Darius Garland, he found a streaking Justin Holiday for the easy layup to cut the Cavs lead to 92-81 with 9:07 remaining in the game. The 11-point deficit was the smallest deficit for the Pacers since midway through the second quarter.
However, after Holiday’s layup the Pacers misfired on their next three consecutive shots. The cold spell allowed the Cavs to pull off an 8-3 run over the next 3:31 to increase the lead back to 100-84. The Pacers lone points during the run came from free throws.
Justin Holiday began what would be the final attempt at a comeback in the fourth. With 5:36 remaining his second 3-pointer of the game cut the deficit down 100-87. A Sabonis layup followed that to bring the lead back down to 11.
After a single Cavs free throw, Brogdon stole a pass and found Warren running down the right side of the court for the easy layup to cut the lead to 101-91 with 3:50 remaining. But the Pacers never managed to trim the lead to fewer than seven points. And the Blue & Gold fell to the Cavaliers on the road for the first time since 2018, giving former Michigan basketball coach John Beilein his first career NBA win.
Inside the Numbers
Six Pacers players finished the game with three fouls or more.
The Cavaliers converted 19 free throws compared to the Pacers' 11.
The Cavaliers shot 7-for-10 (70.0 percent) from 3-point range in the second quarter.
- Brogdon’s 30 points were two points shy of his career high. He scored 32 with the Bucks against the Phoenix Suns on January 22 of last year.
- Myles Turner recorded his first double-double of the season after finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
You Can Quote Me On That
"Defensively. More effort. We don't come out with any urgency. We pick up our urgency when we're down 15 or 20." – Malcolm Brogdon on the issues he sees early in the season.
The Pacers travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons for the second time this season on Monday, October 28 at 7:00 PM ET.
After a three-game road trip, the Pacers will return to Bankers Life Fiedhouse to host Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, Nov. 1 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
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