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Cavaliers 103, Pacers 95: Pacers Awaken Too Late

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The Saturday afternoon start seemed to have the NBA biorhythms out of wack, offering up a game that began plenty ugly, but turned wildly entertaining in the fourth quarter. In the end, the Cleveland Cavaliers hung on for a 103-95 win over the Indiana Pacers.

The Cavs completed a 4-0 sweep of the season series against the Pacers. As familiar as the end result was, there were oddities that surfaced within the game, most working against the Pacers.

For starters, FG% is usually a solid indicator for winning in the NBA. As a quick sample, there were 12 games on Friday night and all 12 winners finished the game with a higher FG% than the losers. If a team wins with a worse FG% it is usually pretty close. Well, today the Pacers lost while shooting 49% compared to the Cavs 41% from the field. Not even close.

So how do the Cavs win with such a shooting disparity? Easy. Make it up with big advantages in different areas. For starters, the Cavs outrebounded the Pacers 54 to 37 but more importantly the Cavs grabbed 23 offensive rebounds to the Pacers 8. Offensive, indeed.

All those extra chances around the bucket led to plenty of fouls by the Pacers, which is where the Pacers were hit with another huge disadvantage. The Cavs made 20 of 27 free throws, while the Pacers only shot 6 free throws. Mama mia.

The Pacers were just outworked inside by the Cavs, who were missing center Zydrunas Illgauskas. Not to worry, though, as Anderson Varejao and Joe Smith teamed up to hold down the middle, combining to finish with 27 points and 24 rebounds. Just one of those days for Jeff Foster where his hustle was matched Varejao and there was no one else to help out.

In the Pacers defense, they were poised for a blowout loss early in the game and again in the third quarter. The Cavs let them off the mat in the second quarter, but in the third, the Pacers dug deep and scrapped their way back into contention. Never give up. This team never gives up.

Marquis Daniels and Flip Murray provided plenty of help off the bench today. (Oh, and Steven Graham was afforded 6 minutes and change throughout the game. Nothing spectacular, but he pitched in on the positive side.) Figures it would come during a game when Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy were less than stellar. Quisy and Flip combined for 30 points and played a big role in the late comeback attempt that saw a one-time 21-point lead, shrink to four points late in the fourth.

The Cavs just beat the Pacers to too many loose balls today and then, they also have LeBron James so scoring options down the stretch are covered. LeBron was quietly cruising through the game before an 18-point outburst in the third quarter. He punctuated his performance with a beautiful step back 3-ball with 1:20 left in the game to push the Cavs' four point lead to seven. The Pacers never recovered.

So, the three game roadie against Houston, San Antonio, and Cleveland was as hard and grueling as expected. The Pacers can limp home, assuming they can get off the snowy ground in Cleveland, and focus on a possible W for their next game as the Seattle SuperSonics visit the Fieldhouse. Just so nobody musters up too much confidence, remember that the Supes did beat the Pacers in their first meeting earlier this year.