Cavaliers end skid, stopping Pacers 108-104
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - With key players out of their lineup and riding a losing skid, the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a win on Sunday against an Indiana Pacers team that was also undermanned. In Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Cavs answered the call.
Behind star rookie Evan Mobley, the Cavs defeated the Pacers 108-104 on Sunday, snapping their three-game losing skid.
“It was the poise that he did it and the time that he did it,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about Mobley. “I think he was big in that fourth quarter, us just putting the ball in his hand. We don’t have a lot of things to create out there, and he put that ball in his hands and created scoring opportunities.”
Mobley led Cleveland with 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but he also scored six of the Cavs’ final nine points to hold off the Pacers in the fourth quarter.
It was a back-and-forth contest throughout the evening that saw 16 lead changes and 15 ties, including a 90-90 tie with 10:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Cavs (21-16), though, immediately put together a 7-0 run to put some distance between themselves and Indiana, while also making enough shots down the stretch to make sure their losing streak stopped at three.
Near the end of the third quarter, though, it looked like the Cavs might be on their way to a fourth straight loss. When Justin Holiday drained a three-pointer that gave the Pacers an 84-73 lead with 3:04 to play in the third quarter, Indiana (14-23) secured its largest of the night, and it looked like the game was getting away from the Cavs. Pacers center Domantas Sabonis scored 16 points in the third quarter alone, and the Cleveland’s offense had stalled to that point. The Cavs, though, closed the third quarter with a gritty 15-0 run, highlighted by Kevin Love’s three-pointer at the buzzer, to take an 88-84 lead into the final period.
“I thought we had some individual guys make their mind up that they weren’t going to let (a loss) happen, and that’s what you need in those moments,” Bickerstaff said about the comeback in the third quarter. “I thought Jarrett (Allen) was huge in that quarter, Kevin Love, obviously. I thought we had guys that were determined to help carry the team. We got down a little bit, but we figured out a way, and it was through the scrap and it was together like we always talk about.
“There may be an individual who makes a play, but not one of us can do it by ourselves. So once we see somebody, then everybody jumps on board, and I thought we had some great leadership in that third quarter.”
Allen recorded his 18th double-double of the season, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds against Indiana. Meanwhile, Love totaled 20 points and eight rebounds, the fifth straight game he has scored at least 20 points.
The Cavs were once against without starting point guard Darius Garland (health and safety protocols), who the team was winless without in its last three contests. The Pacers were also riding a three-game losing steak with several of their key players out of the lineup as well. Indiana was without Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Chris Duarte and Jeremy Lamb, all of whom are key members of their rotation who are in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Sabonis led Indiana with 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. Duane Washington Jr. added 20 points, while Holiday scored 18 points with four rebounds and three assists. All of Holiday points came on six made three-pointers.
A loss on Sunday would have been demoralizing for the Cavs against a Pacers team that hasn’t won a game on the road since Nov. 22, especially after losing Isaac Okoro for the night to what looked like an elbow injury in the first half.
“The results matter,” Bickerstaff said. “As coaches, we love to talk about the process, but with the position that we’re currently in, all these wins matter, and us trying to maintain position in the Eastern Conference. We have to continue to pile up wins, and to come out and be able to do it shorthanded, it’s a big deal for our group.”
The Cavs hope to carry the momentum from the win into Tuesday’s matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies, the final game of their three-game homestand.
POSTED 01/02/2022 21:57