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All around effort pushes Pacers to win over Cavaliers

Cleveland was short LeBron James due to rest, but came together for a solid 103-93 win, led by Paul George (21 points) and Jeff Teague (20).

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers secured a second straight victory for the first time this season with another solid effort, this time defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers at home 103-93. The Pacers received favorable news earlier in the afternoon when Cleveland announced they’d be resting LeBron James on the second night of a back-to-back, but it didn’t dampen Indiana’s effort in the slightest.

Indiana trailed in the opening minutes, but used an 11-0 run to push them ahead for what would be the remainder of the game. The Pacers may not have given up the lead, but that wasn’t for a lack of trying on Cleveland’s behalf. The Cavs repeatedly chipped away at a double figure lead, but each time the Pacers were there to respond with a run of their own.

The Pacers did so through transition offense, outscoring Cleveland 23-4 in fast break points, setting up easy baskets that helped them shoot 50% from the floor. They scored 44 points in the paint and 21 points off of Cleveland turnovers, giving them every opportunity to cut off dangerous Cleveland runs.

More impressive than their fight offensively was their play defensively. There was no letdown after their defensive showing against Orlando, holding the Cavs at 40.7% shooting, forcing 18 turnovers, and blocking 12 shots. Monta Ellis led the team with five blocks, as many as Cleveland as a team had while Myles Turner had four of his own.

Predictably, the Pacers struggled to limit the scoring of both Kevin Love (27 points) and Kyrie Irving (24), but they did well to prevent others from getting involved. The two combined for 51 points on 51% shooting, while the rest of the team was just 13-43, registering no double figure scorers.

The Pacers were lifted early and often by the play of Thaddeus Young, who had 16 points and seven rebounds. Young was out in transition often and afterwards, credited paying better attention to the coaching staff to the team’s recent two game turnaround.

Paul George led the way for the Pacers with 21 points and 11 rebounds, his first double-double of the season while Jeff Teague had 20 points on 7-12 shooting. On a night that Indiana needed a solid counter to the scoring of Love and Irving, both George and Teague provided steady play with Teague coming up throughout the night, while also dishing a team best eight assists.

Five Pacers reached double figures with Turner scoring 12 and C.J. Miles leading the bench with 10 points. Along with Miles, the Pacers continue see impressive play from Aaron Brooks, who scored a comfortable nine points on 4-7 shooting. Kevin Seraphin once again stepped in to give Indiana solid minutes, scoring four on 2-3 shooting with a big block (that unfortunately wound up a three pointer by Jordan McRae, the same player he blocked seconds earlier).

Those solid minutes from Seraphin had to come in place of Al Jefferson, who continues to be a step slow defensively while not making up any of it on the offensive end. Jefferson had just two points in seven minutes on 1-4 shooting, but was extremely soft with the ball, trying to be finesse around the rim instead of emphatically.

Overall, however, the Pacers came with another fantastic effort though maybe clouded by the circumstances of Cleveland playing on the second night of a back-to-back and without their best player. Also, it needs to be mentioned that Indiana’s best three performances of the season have all come on this exact stage: at home against a team on a back-to-back.

The Pacers have been able to take advantage of these “schedule wins,” but need to put this positive play to good use against a rested opponent, the next of which being the Phoenix Suns on Friday as the Pacers wrap up their four game home stand.