David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana led the Cavaliers by as many as 18 late en route to a 99-89 victory.
The Indiana Pacers put together another second half effort that put away the Cleveland Cavaliers, echoing what Indiana did well in the last meeting between the two teams. The Pacers struggled to find consistency in the first half, be it Paul George's awful first half or turnovers, but they rounded into shape for the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 33-22 in what was ultimately the difference in the game.
The Pacers had plenty of highlights, plenty of easy baskets, and another game holding an opponent under 90 points. It was a total team effort with six players in double figures, including all five starters. Lance Stephenson deserves all the praise after tonight's effort. He scored 16 points and had seven assists to lead Indiana to the win, showcasing his court vision and playmaking abilities to the most positive of effects. Stephenson shot 7-8 from the field and had a pair of steals.
As mentioned, Paul George's first half was nothing if not discombobulated. George couldn't hit a shot and began to make plays that weren't there, committing three turnovers in the first half. In the third quarter, he stepped up defensively to create opportunities. He had eight points in the third quarter after zero in the first half, including two of his five steals in the period really putting the Pacers in the driving seat for the game.
Gerald Green continues to shoot much better, finding plays at the basket instead of settling for jumpers, scoring 14 points on 4-6 shooting, including an eye opening dunk that looks a whole lot better when he's contributing on the floor beyond that. Green has been more involved recently, but had a setback tonight when he had to leave the game with a sprained ankle.
Roy Hibbert had a quiet game with 18 points and six rebounds, taking advantage of Tyler Zeller and the Anderson Varejao-less Cavaliers front line. Hibbert shot 8-12 from the field and 2-2 from the line (notable as the Pacers as a team shot 64%). David West wasn't as involved tonight, but did manage to put in the work for a 15 point, 10 rebound double double, with his 1-5 free throw shooting being the most glaring of Indiana's free throw struggles tonight.
Off the bench, there were some nice hustle plays; Ben Hansbrough fought hard for a big offensive rebound that Sam Young cashed in for three, and Ian Mahinmi had eight points. Tyler Hansbrough had his poorest night since Ben moved into the rotation, getting caught in a pointless scuffle with Tristan Thompson George Hill had a quiet, but effective night with 13 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
Indiana did struggle with turnovers, committing 18 that led to 24 Cavs points, but points in transition (12-7 Indiana) and their improvement on getting points off of 17 Cavaliers turnovers helped minimize Cleveland's impact in the game. Indiana assisted on 24 of their 39 field goals and had nine steals on the night. As a whole, it was another impressive effort from the Pacers who are making the necessary plays against weaker opponents to not force themselves into nail biters late.
The Pacers will head to New Orleans next to face the struggling Hornets as part of their two game road trip before Christmas. Indiana will have another great opportunity to grab a win they should be able to take care of in hopes of improving their record late in December.