The Pacers recorded a much needed and important win over a LeBron less Cavs tonight, crushing them 123-109 at the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, Indiana. The Pacers needed this win to maintain some breathing space between themselves, the Bulls and the Pistons as the 3 teams fight for the last 2 playoffs spots of the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have now won 3 games on the trot and have virtually booked a playoffs berth unless they experience a late collapse and the Bulls make a strong finish to the season. The Pacers are now 42-36 and occupy the 7th place of the Eastern Conference, leading the Pistons in the final playoffs spot by half a game and the Bulls in the 9th spot by 3 whole games with 4 games to go in the regular season. The Cavs meanwhile chose to give LeBron a night off as the post season approaches. This games showed just how dependent they are on the superstar. LeBron has been in monstrous form of late, lifting the Cavs to wins in recent games single handedly. The Cavs couldn’t win this without him. They are now 56-23 and lead the 2nd placed Raptors by 3 games with 3 games to go, virtually clinching the Eastern Conference title.
Paul George was once again the main man for the Pacers as he took responsibility and led his team with 29 points, 5 rebounds and an assist. C.J.Miles added 21 points and 3 rebounds off the bench, with a 75% shooting from behind the arc. Ian Mahinmi added 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Solomon Hill ended the game with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, coming off the bench. Monta Ellis had 13 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. George Hill had 9 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. The Pacers shot an excellent 56.3% from the field and 51.6% from behind the arc.
Kyrie Irving led the scoring for the Cavs as he recorded 26 points, 6 assists and 3 steals. Kevin Love had a better games as he recorded 23 points and 5 rebounds. J.R.Smith had 10 points and 2 assists. Channing Frye added 10 points and 3 rebounds off the bench. Richard Jefferson had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals coming off the bench. Tristan Thompson had 9 points and 5 rebounds off the bench. The Cavs offense struggled mightily as they shot a poor 27.6% from behind the arc tonight.
The game started off with both the teams scoring at ease and neither was able to pull away until late in the first quarter. The Pacers made a 7-0 run late in the quarter and the Cavs replied with an 8-4 run. The Pacers took the first, 36-33. The Pacers made a huge 14-0 run midway through the 2nd to take a commanding 14 point lead. Jordan and Solomon Hill scored 9 of these points, all coming from behind the arc. The Pacers took the 2nd 34-28 and went into the break leading 70-61. The 3rd quarter saw the Pacers maintain the 9 point margin for a while. They then went off on a 13-4 run towards the end as they extended their lead to 18. Paul George scored 9 of these points, all from behind the arc again. The Pacers took the 3rd 26-21 and went into the final quarter, leading 96-82. The 4th quarter couldn’t separate the teams as the Cavs couldn’t mount a proper attempt at comeback. It ended 27-27 and the Pacers closed out the game, 123-109.
Next up for the Pacers is a difficult trip to the 2nd placed Raptors on Friday. The Cavs meanwhile face the Bulls away on Saturday.