Game Rewind: Pacers 85, Cavaliers 98

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Game recap

It was a two-half story as the Pacers met the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time this season. In the first half, the Pacers defense was solid. The team limited the hosts to 36 points in the first half, the lowest of the season. It was also the fewest points scored by a Pacers opponent this season.

However, things started to change in the second half. Cracks started to appear in the third as Cleveland got back into the game. Then everything changed in the blink of an eye in the fourth.

The Cavs scored the first 19 points of the last frame to take an insurmountable lead. Indiana (19-36) fell, 98-85, Sunday night at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse after the Pacers scored 38 points in the second half.

Veterans Cedi Osman and Kevin Love did the heavy lifting for Cleveland (32-22) in the fourth. The duo hit seven threes in total in the first six minutes. Osman finished with 22 points – 18 in the fourth – while Love had 19. Veteran Rajon Rondo also added 15 more. Cleveland started 8 for 8 in the fourth quarter.

“We struggled to stop them in the fourth,” Rick Carlisle said after the game. “They went into transition. They had it on the boards. (And) our good shots weren’t going in that streak where they made a pretty substantial run.”

Chris Duarte led Indiana with 22 points and five rebounds. Duane Washington Jr. had 17, and Justin Holiday was the third and final double-digit Pacer with 10.

After neither team scored in the first 2:23, Indiana took a 9-1 lead with 8:12 left in the first. Duarte contributed five points on the run, including a physical three-point play in the paint.

From there, the Pacers continued to play solid basketball. With Domantas Sabonis and Goga Bitadze back from injury, the team’s home defense has improved a lot. The Cavaliers have connected on just two of their first 11 shots.

Indiana’s lead swelled to double digits near the midpoint mark. At 5:42, six-foot rookie Keifer Sykes completed a fast break with a high-flying slam through a foul. He flexed to the Pacers bench and quickly sank the ensuing free throw. The energetic finish was part of a 12-0 Pacers run that secured a 23-5 advantage with 3:13 remaining.

In the aftermath, the Pacers defense held the Cavs in check. The Blue & Gold led 27-12 in the second quarter. Cleveland shot 4 of 23 (17.4%) from the field.

The Pacers started the second stanza with a 7-2 push in the first two minutes. He extended the lead to 20 (34-14) for the first and only time.

However, Cleveland eventually found its footing to reduce the deficit. A host of Cavs players contributed to a 12-0 run that cut the Pacers’ lead to 34-26 with 6:03 to go. After a 4:09 drought at Indiana, Washington Jr. finally stopped the frenzy with a right elbow jumper.

Washington, Terry Taylor and Holiday cut the Pacers’ lead to double digits with 2:03 to go. Taylor fought for many offensive boards against the much bigger Jarrett Allen. With 31.1 seconds left, he added the final frame points, drilling a float on Allen. Indiana led 47-36 at the break.

Cleveland started the third quarter with a 6-0 run from rookie Evan Mobley. The Pacers didn’t find a bucket until Holiday held a three at 9:09.

But still, Indiana maintained a slim lead. Domantas Sabonis provided the highlight, slamming home a thunderous dunk over Allen’s head. He then added a free throw with 6:46 remaining to give Indiana a 53-47 lead.

As the quarter went by, Duarte kept the Pacers up front. The rookie had 10 consecutive Pacers points, including a 26-foot triple down on the left side with 3:12 left. The Big Bucket won a 63-55 Pacers lead.

At the end of the course, Duarte again provided the spark. Indiana’s lead extended to 10 before Cleveland responded with an unanswered six. Then, with time running out, Duarte lined up his defender, dribbled left and found just enough space to fire a trey. The ball sank at the buzzer, pushing Indiana’s lead to 68-61 before the last frame.

But the wheels fell off in the final frame.

Osman scored eight unanswered points to give the hosts a two-point advantage. Then Love canned a pair of threes, adding to the Pacers’ misery. Osman then came back and added five more. In 3:10, the Cavs turned a seven-point deficit into an 80-68 advantage.

Washington broke the party with a three at 8:30. But Love sank again 48 seconds later. Torrey Craig tried to stop Cleveland with his first trey. Still, Osman responded with his fourth. No matter what the Pacers tried, they couldn’t stop Cleveland’s shots from falling.

At 5:35, Rondo only scored his 12th hat-trick of the season. The surprise bucket cut the wind off the Pacers’ sails for the rest of the game.

Inside the numbers

Cleveland has beaten Indiana, 86-58, in the last three quarters.

The Cavs bench outscored the Pacers bench, 62-32. The trio of Osman, Love and Rondo contributed 56 points.

Washington Jr. has finished in double figures in six of his last eight games. He has scored 15 or more goals in his last five games.

You can quote me on that

“I wish I had known. I think they shot the ball very, very well. They kind of changed us a bit and we didn’t respond. That’s what I would say now.” –Holidays on the drastic change from quarter 3 to 4

“There was a good balance between outside shooting and straight line drives. I liked the way he moved the ball tonight. He rebounded pretty well – five boards, a few assists. He was a mover ball and an energy giver tonight. Those types of things really help to improve his game, and the whole game of our team.” –Carlisle on Duarte’s performance

Stats of the night

The Cavaliers finished 13 of 18 (72.2%) from the field, including 8 of 11 from deep, in the fourth quarter.

Remarkable

  • The Pacers have dropped to 6-21 on the road this season.

  • The Cavs won back-to-back regular season games against the Pacers for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
  • Tonight, the Pacers launched their 25th different starting lineup this season.

Following

The Pacers wrap up a two-game road trip to Atlanta against Trae Young and the Hawks on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Tickets

The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Darius Garland and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, February 11 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Find Tickets »


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