Indiana can't keep pace with Cavaliers falling 113-104
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
In their final game before the NBA’s All-Star break, the Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the Indiana Pacers in a central division showdown. Indiana entered the night in second place behind Cleveland in the division, but 9½ gams back. The Pacers left Cleveland with their sixth loss in the last eight meetings with the Cavs after LeBron James and company pushed past Paul George’s Pacers, 113-104.
“I’m happy with where we’re at,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said. “Winning eight out of nine in the month of February, playing good basketball and losing Kevin and J.R. and guys are stepping up playing well. Anytime you lose two starters and one All-Star it’s going to make it tough, but we have a no excuse mentality and guys are stepping up and guys are playing well, and we have to continue to do that until J.R. and Kevin get back.”
James, who will make his 13th All-Star appearance this weekend, showed Wednesday night why he has been selected to the event so many times. Against Indiana, James totaled a game-high 31 points, five rebounds and four assists. Kyrie Irving chipped-in 26 points and seven assists.
The Cavs were once again without the third member of the ‘Big 3’, Kevin Love, who had arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday in New York to remove a loose body from his left knee. Love is expected to be out roughly six weeks, which slots him to return to the Cavs’ lineup before the playoffs begin in April.
James, who ranks second in the league in minutes played per game (37.6), may have to take-on more of a scoring load with Love out. Lue, however, isn’t overly concerned with the amount of minutes his stars may incur with Love out of the lineup.
“Guys are going to get their proper rest even though Kevin is out,” Lue said. “We just gotta go forward. We’re going to be fine. Next man up, guys got to be ready to play.”
With Love projected to miss significant time, the Cavs could be even more pressed to acquire help to fill the void. Since James arrived back on the shores of Lake Erie in 2014, Cleveland has been one of the most aggressive franchises in terms of acquiring talent. That fact is largely due to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s willingness to spend obscene amounts of cash to deliver Cleveland championship rosters.
“Since I’ve been here, he’s paid the money to get good players and try to win a championship,” Lue said. “And that’s what he’s all about is winning. He sees we’re down a couple pieces, a couple guys, and he’s willing to spend the money and we know that.
“So, anytime you have an owner who’s willing to do that for your team to win, it means a lot.”
The Cavs and Pacers played a closely contested first half with Cleveland taking a 57-54 lead into the third quarter. When James sank a three-pointer, followed by a spectacular reverse layup with 3:11 remaining the the third quarter, the Cavs took their largest lead of the night, 78-66. Yet, Indiana answered with a 10-0 run to bring their deficit back to two points and trailed 83-80 heading into the fourth.
It didn’t take the Cavs long to put some distance back between themselves and Indiana. By the time Irving drained a three-pointer with 9:10 to play in the fourth quarter, Cleveland had regained a 10-point lead, 97-87. When Cavs shooting guard Kyle Korver sank a three-pointer, followed by a layup with 6:05 remaining in regulation, Cleveland led 106-89 and were in position to cruise the rest of the way.
“Just a great addition for us,” Lue said of Korver. “It gives us a different look than what we had over the past three years, a guy that can move without the basketball. You have to pay so much attention to him. He’s always causing confusion.”
With his second three-pointer of the night, Korver became the seventh player in NBA history to hit 2,000 triples. Against Indiana, Korver finished with 22 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes off the Cavs bench.
The Cavs head into All-Star Weekend with the best record in the Eastern Conference (39-16).
POSTED 02/15/2017 22:39