The NBA's best team came into Quicken Loans Arena and were given a fight by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but in the end the Indiana Pacers were too much to handle. They edged the Cavs 82-78.
The Pacers who have only lost six games all season and have beaten the Cavaliers eight-straight times, built a comfortable halftime lead, but were never able to put the game out of reach.
Cleveland took advantage despite being without either of their first choice point guards. Kyrie Irving – who went through his shoot-around in the pregame – missed his third-straight game with a knee bruise and backup point guard Jarrett Jack sat out this contest with a lower back strain.
They never allowed Indiana to blow the game open and finished the game on a 20-8 run.
This allowed the Cavaliers to pull things close in the closing stages and had multiple chances to tie the game or take the lead. Dion Waiters led the charge back with 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, but missed three crucial chances late.
He lost the ball off his knee and out of bounds with the Pacers up by just one. Waiters then missed a three pointer and a layup on the same possession with Indiana leading 80-78. Finally, with the Cavs down by three and 7.9 seconds remaining, Earl Clark stepped out of bounds after catching the ball from the inbounds pass.
David West added 11 points and seven rebounds, while Lance Stevenson and bench-player Danny Granger each scored 10.
For Cleveland, C.J. Miles scored a game-high 21 points and had six rebounds, but they missed someone who could really run the team. Without Irving or Jack, Matthew Dellavedova started, scoring just 11 points on 3-10 shooting. It appeared the rookie was pressing a bit on both sides of the ball, as he played a career-high 41 minutes against the best team in the league.
There are no moral victories for a Cavaliers team that is in desperate need for wins, but to take the top team in the NBA to the wire with two of your best players sidelined does speak to the heart of this group. They have shown at points this season that they really can play good basketball, yet they have been unable to do it on a consistent basis.
Next up for Cleveland is a Tuesday night date with the Philadelphia 76ers.
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