Shorthanded Cavaliers lose second straight in 125-113 loss to Pacers 
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - On Friday Night the Cleveland Cavaliers laid an egg against the Oklahoma City Thunder losing 108-105. Yes, they were without Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, but aside from Donovan Mitchel the team was a no show. Tonight, the Cavs welcomed the Indiana Pacers to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Pacers are in the second year of a rebuild, but throughout history no matter the records of Indiana and Cleveland it’s usually a battle. The Pacers won this battle as they easily handled the Cavs 125-113.

The shorthanded Cavaliers were without starters Jarrett Allen, Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland and reserve Ty Jerome but started off strong taking an early 10-3 lead with Caris LeVert and Evan Mobley each having four points in the first 2:26 of the game. LeVert continued to be hot with 5:10 left in the opening quarter the Cavs led 25-12 and LeVert had 19 of the 25 Cavs points. The Cavs lead continued to be in double digits and with 3:26 left in the first quarter Cavs second round pick #49 overall Emoni Bates entered the game and got a nice round of applause from the Cavs faithful in attendance at RMFH. The Cavs led 28-23 with 2:02 left in the first quarter. The quarter ended with the Cavs on top 37-31. LeVert led all scorers with a first quarter career high of 22 points. Aaron Nesmith led the Pacers with 10 points. The Cavs outrebounded the Pacers 16-10. Cavs shot 57% from the field while the Pacers hit 43%. The Cavs were 4 of 9 from behind the three-point line for 44%.

The Cavs lead was slowly slipping away as the Pacers pulled to within two points at 37-35 with 10:28 left in the second quarter when Nesmith dropped in a layup on a fast break. Mobley was then called for a foul which was reviewed and was upgraded to a flagrant one. Jalen Smith shot two free throws making one of two and the Cavs lead was down to one point with 10:12 left. One possession later the Pacers took the lead 39-37 on a three by Nesmith. The Pacers increased their lead to 44-40 with 8:46 left when T.J. McConnell deposited the ball in the cylinder when he drove the paint. The Pacers continued to build their lead to six at 48-42 with 6:47 left in the second quarter on a Nesmith layup. The former first round pick out of Vanderbilt had 17 points. The lead continued to grow to eight points 50-42 with 5:33 left in the first half on a hook shot by Myles Turner. Meanwhile the Cavs through the first 6:53 of the quarter were 1 for 10 from the field. With 4:51 left in the first half Turner was called for and offensive foul when he steamrolled Isaac Okoro which seemed to energize the Cavs as they went on a mini 6-1 run to pull to within 3 points at 51-48 with 2:58 left in the first half when Mobley slammed the ball home. The Pacers answered back and extended the lead to 10 points at 58-48 when Bennedict Mathurin hit a jumper in the lane as was fouled by Wade and converted the free throw with :58 left in the opening half. The half ended with the Pacers on top 60-49. The Cavs shot a miserable 19% (4 of 21) in the second quarter while the Pacers shot 48% (12 of 25). LeVert led all scorers with 25 points, only three in the second quarter. Nesmith paced Indiana with 17. The Cavs were outscored 29-12 by Indiana in the second quarter.

The Cavs faced an uphill battle in the second half and out of nowhere after a personal foul was called on Mobley, his third of the game official Michael Smith hit Strus with a technical foul. After the Pacers made all three shots from the charity stripe and took a 68-57 lead. Strus was having none of that as on the next possession he drained a three and seemed to look in the direction of Smith. After good defense by the Cavs and fast break layup by Mobley the Cavs pulled to with six points at 68-62 with 8:56 left on the clock in the third quarter. The Cavs were finally able to cut the lead to less than six at 76-72 when Okoro drained a layup on a fast break with 5:24 left in the second quarter. Some energy was injected into the crowd as Tristan Thompson entered the game with 4:20 left in the third. The Cavs defense seemingly could not stop the Pacers as they once again built the lead to 10 at 82-72 with 3:56 left in the third. Thompson then scored his first points of the season to pull the Cavs to within four points at 83-79 with 2:26 left in the quarter. The Cavs cut it to three at 85-82 with 2:01 left when Wade drained a three. The Pacers countered with three’s on their next two possessions and built the lead back to seven at 91-84 with :38 left in the quarter on a jumper by McConnell. The Cavs got a three from Wade with :30 left in the third to cap the scoring in the quarter and cut the Pacers lead to four points at the end of three quarters. LeVert continued to lead all scorers with 30 points. Nesmith continued to lead the Pacers with 21. The Cavs shot much better 55% (16 of 29) in the third.

The Pacers’ lead was down to 91-89 just seconds into the final quarter on a slam dunk by Thompson. The Cavs then cut the lead to one at 93-92 when Thompson pulled down a board and Georges Niang drained a triple with 10:52 left. The only problem was the Cavs continued to lack on the defensive end and allowed two consecutive triples by the Pacers to increase the lead to 99-92 with 9:54 remaining. One thing that was apparent when Thompson entered the game was the Cavs were much more physical, especially at the offensive end. The Cavs once again cut the lead to four at 99-95 with 9:18 left after Strus drained a couple free throws. Every time the Cavs would threaten the Pacers responded. But it was clear the presence of Thompson in the paint was clearing the way for Cavs shots. Strus drained another three, his fourth of the game with 7:20 left on the clock to pull the Cavs to within 105-101. Mobley reentered the game at that point in place of Thompson. Another problem for the Cavs that has continued from last season is free throw shooting. The Cavs with 5:42 left in the game had shot a miserable 58% (11 of 19) from the line and trailed 107-102. With the score 109-102 and 4:46 left on the clock the Pacers were called for a defensive three seconds technical, Strus made the free throw and then Mobley on the possession after drained a layup to pull the Cavs to with four at 109-105 with 4:37 left. Mobley after a miss at the Pacers end took a pass from Strus drained it and pulled the Cavs to 109-107 with 4:08 left, but once again the Pacers responded with a three to extend the lead back to five at 112-107 with 3:43 remaining. Tyrese Haliburton once again exposed the Cavs defense from outside hitting two straight three’s the second with 2:44 left on the clock giving Indiana a 118-108 lead. Since Thompson left the floor with 7:20 left the Pacers have outscored the Cavs 13-7. It must be noted that Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff’s use of the bench was highly criticized last season and has been no better through three games this season. The Cavs were on their way to their second consecutive loss falling to 0-2 at home in the young season. If he isn’t already Bickerstaff will soon be on the hotseat. The Cavs struggled in the first two home games against teams they are clearly better than even shorthanded.  

Mobley led the Cavs with 33 points, 21 of them came in the second half. LeVert, after scoring 22 in the first 12 minutes, finished with 31. He was on fire in the first quarter shooting 9 of 12 but shot just 3 of 16 the rest of the game. Nesmith led the Pacers with 26 points. Haliburton had 21 and Turner tallied 20 in the win. During Thompson’s time on the floor the Cavs outscored the Pacers 29-25 with big man on the floor.

The Cavs will now be off until Tuesday Halloween Night when they host the New York Knicks and will be on national TV at 7:30 pm. The last time the Cavs saw the Knicks, New York was celebrating on the floor at RMFH when they eliminated the Cavs 4-1 in their first-round best of seven series. 
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​POSTED 10/28/2023 22:27
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Lake County Sentinel
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