Cavaliers comeback late to stop Pacers 115-105
BY TIM SHIRER
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Cavaliers (48-30, 30-9 RMFH) entered Sunday night's game with a chance to get one step closer to clinching home court in the first round as they welcomed the Indiana Pacers (34-44, 14-25 road) to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The Pacers lead the all-time series 106-100, but the Cavs do lead the series at home (Richfield Coliseum, RMFH) 64-41 and have won 2 of 3 against the Pacers this season. In the last matchup the Cavs defeated the Pacers 122-103 in Indianapolis on February 5. Sunday night it was a little tougher, but Cavs prevailed 115-105.
The Cavs were still without swingman and elite defender Isaac Okoro. Early on the two teams traded baskets with the Pacers taking their second lead of the game 10-8 with 8:31 left on the first quarter clock when Aaron Nesmith drained a three point from the top of the arc. After the Cavs tied the game on a Donovan Mitchell layup the Pacers scored on their next two possessions taking a 14-10 lead with 7:23 left in the first quarter when Benedict Mathurin pulled down a rebound on a missed shot and put it back. With 6:54 left on the clock Mitchell pulled the Cavs to within one at 14-13 when he dropped in a layup and was fouled, he converted the free throw. Mitchell then gave Cleveland a 15-14 lead with 5:53 left when he drove the lane again for a layup. Indiana was not going away early as they responded immediately with 5:35 left on a three by Nesmith giving Indiana a 17-15 lead. Mitchell continued his hot first quarter with another three with 4:51 left giving the Cavs a 18-17 lead forcing Indiana coach Rick Carlisle to take a timeout. The game continued to go back and forth with the lead changing eight times in the first nine minutes of the game. After the Pacers’ Nesmith missed two free throws Mitchell was fouled on the other end draining one of two giving the Cavs a 22-19 lead with 2:56 remaining in the period. The Cavs seemed to be getting their feet under them as they extended the lead to 26-21 on a thunderous two handed dunk by Jarrett Allen with 1:44 left. Indiana took another timeout. The Pacers trimmed the Cavs lead to one point at 26-25 with :42.2 left on the clock then gave Indiana a 28-26 lead on a three pointer by Buddy Hield with :19 left on the first quarter clock. The quarter ended with the game tied at one after Allen put back a Darius Garland miss with time running out. Mitchell led all scorers with 13 points in the first Mathurin led the Pacers with nine points in the first 12 minutes. Indiana turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter resulting in eight Cleveland points. The Pacers outrebounded the Cavs 17-10.
The Pacers who were all but mathematically eliminated from any chance at the postseason including the play-in tournament were playing like they were going to the playoffs as they outscored the Cavs 13-5 in the first 2:07 of the second period to take a 41-34 lead. The Pacers extended the lead to 10 with 8:04 left when Jalen Smith hit a three-pointer giving the Pacers a 46-36 lead. Cleveland cut the lead to seven at 48-41 with 6:34 left on a running layup by Mitchell on a pass from Garland. The Pacers responded by extending the lead to their biggest of the game to that point 11 with a 54-43 score with 5:46 left in the first half when Oshae Brissett hit a layup and was fouled, he then converted the foul shot. The Cavs once again trimmed the lead to seven at 56-49 when Caris LeVert was fouled by Mathurin and drained both free throws with 3:38 left in the first half. Cleveland cut into the lead further cutting it to 56-50 with 3:14 left when Allen was fouled and hit one of two free throws. Then cut the lead to 56-52 with 2:41 left on a hook shot banked off the glass by Evan Mobley. The Pacers lead was quickly back to seven at 59-52 when Mitchell was called for his third personal foul of the first half sending Jordan Nwora to the line with 1:43 left. He hit one of the two free throws. Cleveland then scored the next seven points the final five of the seven by LeVert to tie the game 59-59 with :42 left on the first half clock. The Pacers responded and took a 61-59 lead into halftime. Mitchell led all scorers with 19 first half points, Allen was the only other Cav in double figure he had 10 points. Smith had 12 points for the Pacers. Mobley led everyone in rebounds in the first half with seven. Both teams had 24 rebounds in the first 24 minutes. Indiana’s bench blew away the Cavs bench outscoring them 33-13. On the 30th anniversary of former Cavalier Mark Price hitting his Cavs record 77th free throw in a row the Cavs hit 7 of 11 free throws in the first half.
With 7:39 left in the third the Pacers once again were on a run extending their lead to 74-66 after Nesmith hit another three, his third of the game. Cleveland trimmed the lead to 74-70 with 6:57 left when Garland drained two free throws. Mitchell cut into the Pacers lead closing the gap to 76-74 with 6:15 left hitting two free throws. Garland then tied the game 76-76 with 5:41 left in the third on a running layup. Cleveland finally regained the lead with 4:37 left on the third quarter clock when Mitchell drove the paint giving the Cavs an 80-78 lead. Mitchell now had 42 points. The Pacers quickly regained the lead and extended it to three points when Nesmith hit one of two free throws to give Indiana a 83-80 lead with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter. The Cavs tied the game 83-83 after Mitchell was flagrantly fouled (flagrant 1) on Mathurin with 1:37 left on the third quarter clock. When the period ended the Pacers led by the slimmest of margins 87-86. Mitchell continued to lead everyone in scoring with 36. Garland and Allen were also in double figures with 14, 12, respectively. Mobley only had eight points but had pulled down 13 boards leading everyone in the game in that respect. The Pacers had four in double figures, led by Mathurin with 15 points. The two teams were still even on the boards with 34 apiece.
The Cavs tied the game 87-87 with 11:16 left in the game when Allen hit one of two from the charity stripe. The Cavs regained the lead 92-89 on three pointer by Garland with 10:29 left in the game. LeVert extended the lead to 94-89 on a running layup with 9:11 left. Carlisle had seen enough and called for the timeout. The Pacers pulled to within 94-93 with 8:10 left on a step back jumper by Hield. The Cavs continued to extend their lead running it to 99-93 with 6:41 left on the game clock when LeVert hit a fadeaway jumper. Carlisle once again needed to talk it over with his Pacers and took a timeout. After the timeout the Pacers failed to score on their ensuing trip as Smith missed a jumper and Mobley pulled down his 15th rebound of the game. The Cavs got over the century mark taking a 100-95 lead with 4:54 left when Mitchell hit one of two free throws. The Cavs took their biggest lead of the second half to that point with 3:59 left when LeVert hit Dean Wade with a pass and the big man put it of the glass into the basket giving the Cavs a 102-95 lead. The Cavs finally took control of the game with 2:41 left on a fast break when LeVert hit Wade and then Wade found Mobley under the hoop and he slammed it home with two hands giving Cleveland a 107-99 lead. With 2:19 left the Cavs took their first double digit lead of the night going up 110-99 on a three pointer by Mitchell giving him 40 points in the game. It is the 12th time this season that Mitchell has eclipsed the 40 point mark. The Cavs extended the lead to 115-101 with 1:15 on another thunderous dunk by Mobley, his 213th dunk of the season. The Cavs won their 31st game at home when the time ran out earning their 49th win of the season 115-105.
Mitchell led all scorers in the game with 40 points. Garland has 20, Allen and LeVert each had 15, Mobley finished with 14. Mobley also had 16 rebounds giving him his 26th double double of the season. Mathurin led the Pacers with 19 points. Seven Pacers scored in double figures. Indiana outrebounded the Cavs by one board 44-43. The Cavs shot 49% (44 of 90) from the field while the Pacers shot 43% (36-83). The Cavs got to the free throw stripe 26 times hitting only 18 for a miserable 69%. The Pacers were 24 of 29 from the line for 83%. The Cavs were dominant in the paint outscoring the smaller Pacers 66-40. However, the Indiana bench did outscore the Cavs bench 41-21.
The Cavs will be in action next on Tuesday at 7 pm in Orlando against the Magic (33-44, 19-19 home) at the Amway Center. The game will be the first of two straight in Orlando against the Magic. The second game will take place on Thursday at 7 pm. The Cavaliers lead the all-time series against the Magic 61-59, but are only 23-37 all-time in Orlando.
POSTED 04/02/2023 23:02