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Cavaliers 118, Pacers 105: The Cavs Bench Was Unfair

Well, a loss was waiting for the Pacers in Cleveland after all. The hope that the Cavs wouldn't find their stride with all the fresh faces added to the lineup was dashed early as the Cavs erupted from their offensive slump to cruise by the Pacers, 118-105.

If you didn't see the game, please purge the idea that anything that happened on Sunday morning contributed to this loss. Jamaal Tinsley did play and was a bit up and down. He's had better games, but did play a big part in cutting what was a 20-plus point lead to nine in the third quarter. Tins hit back-to-back 3-balls to give the Pacers a little hope, but the nine point deficit jumped back up to 21 over the next three minutes.

A more critical factor in the loss was the absence of Jeff Foster and David Harrison, who both sat out with back problems. The Pacers rely on a team defensive philosophy that Foster usually anchors. Without the backline help, the Cavs lethal perimeter players were able to drive or shoot open jumpers, depending on what their defenders would offer.

So, the Pacers had a thin second unit while the Cavs trotted out one of the most lethal second units anyone will see this year. With 5:59 left in the first quarter, the Cavs inserted Larry Hughes, Anderson Varejao, and LeBron James. Yeah, I know, it wasn't fair. What was a four point Cavs lead swelled to 21 by the end of the quarter.

LeBron James was active and causing obvious matchup problems. With no help behind him, Mike Dunleavy was helpless trying to contain LeBron on the drive. But, forget LeBron, Larry Hughes was the difference. The box score claims he made five 3-balls, but I swear he splashed twice that many. I know he hit two or three long twos, but wherever Hughes was shooting from, the result was all net.

For the Pacers, Mike Dunleavy finished with 23 points, but Danny Granger couldn't match the offensive output. With Jermaine O'Neal in the lineup, Granger has to find a way to get more shots. He seems a little out of sync and not ready to pull the trigger all the time. Plus, he hasn't been effective trying to finish drives in the lane. The critique of Danny's ball handling by Larry Joe Legend remains an issue.

Just one of those nights in the NBA for the Pacers. No time to dwell on this loss with the Chicago Bulls visiting the Fieldhouse tomorrow night. Hopefully, Foster and Harrison (or at least one of them) is available tomorrow night. The Pacers have a thin margin of error and after watching a game like tonight you wonder if they'll ever win another game. But, this group has been resilient all year, so let's hope for another bounce back effort tomorrow night.