The revolution that was spoken of on Saturday has been put on hold after another late-game collapse by the Indiana Pacers resulted in another avoidable loss. For a game that worked in Indiana's favor in the second half, their inability to come up with enough buckets or stops, coupled with a continued inability to run an effective end of game possession turned into an extra five minutes in which the play of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James trumped Myles Turner and Jordan Hill.
A scorching Cavaliers team stormed out of the gate, putting Indiana down 14 late in the first. The Pacers found life on a 7-0 run to close the quarter, but were on the wrong side of a strong close to the half, as Cleveland outscored Indiana 9-3, pushing a five point lead to 11, outscoring Indiana 60-49. In the third quarter, however, the Pacers turned the game in their favor with a renewed defensive energy, outscoring Cleveland 30-15 in the third quarter to lead by four.
Indiana wouldn't relinquish the lead in the fourth, but they were never able to fully capitalize on their mini-runs. The Pacers would time and time again push the lead into two-possession territory, but Cleveland was there to respond every step of the way. Even still, the Pacers had the ball with 20 seconds remaining after a crucial foul on Kevin Love to give Indiana a final crack at winning in regulation.
At first blush, the final play appeared in line with Indiana's common "isolation brick" standards, but a play that saw Monta Ellis dribbling high, George Hill cutting across the court actually fell apart, with Monta forced to go left for a tough jumper that didn't draw iron. As soon as the buzzer sounded and overtime was set to begin, the attitude of Hill was clear that there had been a miscommunication.
Myles Turner had a role on the play, one he had forgotten. The rookie made a costly rookie mistake that effectively cost the Pacers the win, as the overtime period was just a little too much Irving and James for Indiana to handle as the Cavs scored 15 points in the extra period. After the game, Frank Vogel was quick to take the blame for the gaffe, stating that it was his fault for putting Turner in a position like that without being fully clear on the play.
Turner's mistake may have been too costly to overcome, but Indiana was likewise in the position to win the game thanks in large part to his play. Turner had maybe his best game as a Pacer even if it wasn't quite the statistical margin some of his other outings have been. The game turned in Indiana's favor when Turner became a real life rim protector.
Turner had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his first NBA double double (with a team best six offensive boards), but also picked up four blocks, none bigger than a monster stuff on LeBron James at the rim.
Turner also had four points in the overtime period, hitting the first two buckets of the extra period, showing that even after his mistake, he was determined to make things right. There was very little to shake the foundation of Turner being a real talent based on the way he played tonight. In a game where Paul George and C.J. Miles continued to struggle, being in the game thanks to the play of Turner was a huge boost.
For George, he was just 3-15 with 11 points and five turnovers, but did make some plays with eight assists. Likewise, the hot shooting of Monta Ellis came down, with him shooting 5-18, 1-8 from three point range, committing six turnovers. Ellis was a big help to Indiana to start the second half, but outside of the single stretch, his shooting was far off pace from recent outings.
Miles was just 1-5 on a night when the play of Solomon Hill and Lavoy Allen lifted the bench. The two were in the right place at the right time in almost every instance, pulling in 13 combined rebounds (six offensive). Solo led the Pacers' bench with 10 points as Allen had eight. Joe Young had four and Glenn Robinson III put in a nice alley-oop as the Pacers bench outscored Cleveland's 27-10.
Much of Indiana's success came against the Cavalier bench, with Matthew Dellavedova coaxed into a team high four turnovers. Indiana scored 21 points off of 16 Cleveland miscues, giving them more than ample opportunity to be in a position to win late. George Hill had a pair of steals, leading Indiana with 23 points with four three pointers, none bigger than one with under a minute in the fourth to give Indiana two point edge.
Jordan Hill scored 17 points to be the second-leading scorer on 8-13 shooting, including four in overtime. Jordan had six rebounds, but some tense shooting late in the fourth quarter had Indiana struggle to come up with necessary points to keep Cleveland at bay late in the game, though he was hardly the only culprit with Indiana bricking three pointers at the rate they did tonight despite making eight.
Seeing the Pacers snatch defeat from the jaws of victory time and time again continues to be vexxing and confusing. It seems no matter what they do, they're always one play short and allowing Cleveland their first win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in six years the way they did tonight only adds to the frustration and as they head back on the road to face the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, they'll have to keep working at what they need to do in order to turn things around.
Missing Ian Mahinmi and Rodney Stuckey, two players that can swing a game in Indiana's favor doesn't help, but Indiana shouldn't be losing games they way they are at the rate in which they are. Tough breaks happen, but not every night. That's a bigger issue that either falls on coaching, the ineffective play of George and Miles (in particular), or the makeshift roster. Maybe all three.