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Pacers final score: Cavaliers escape Pacers 127-124

An intentional foul by Jalen Smith with a tie game set up Cleveland for a win against Indiana after the Pacers had taken a late lead on a 10-0 run. Tyrese Haliburton led the way with 25 points.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Indiana Pacers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Now just inventing ways to lose, the Indiana Pacers fell in perplexing fashion to the Cleveland Cavaliers, resulting in a season series sweep. The Pacers stormed back from an eight point deficit late in the fourth to take a 124-122 lead when a full court press against a dominating Darius Garland immediately imploded, setting up a putback layup from Evan Mobley to tie the game.

When Malcolm Brogdon had his ensuing drive to the basket blocked by Lamar Stevens, Jalen Smith made the decision to intentionally foul Garland with no fouls remaining and the game tied, clearing the way for Cleveland regain the lead at the line. Brogdon turned it over trying to find Buddy Hield heading to the basket, completing the collapse as the Pacers lose another close one.

It was a bit of a surprise the game had even gotten to that point after Garland and the Cavs bowled over the Pacers to open the fourth quarter. Indiana had set themselves up nicely after the third quarter, leading by eight, but it was short lived as Cleveland scored the first nine of the fourth to take the lead.

Garland had 16 of his 20 fourth quarter points in the 30-11 run that put the Cavaliers in control of the game. With the chance at a win slipping away, Hield hit a three and Smith scored the next five, including a big time elbow three to tie it up with under two minutes to go. Brogdon scored the next four, each time giving Indiana a two-point lead before the floor fell out from under them.

As a whole, the Pacers were outscored 37-26 in the fourth quarter, including their 10-0 run. That final stretch lifted them to 50% shooting for the quarter, but it was a far cry from their impressive second and third quarter runs when they outscored the Cavs 74-58 on 67% shooting.

After a rough first quarter in which the Pacers struggled to combat Cleveland’s defense, the second unit, led by Duane Washington Jr. and Goga Bitadze, opened things up for the Pacers offense. Though they would never get the lead in the second quarter, the duo would help keep the game within reach, Washington’s 14 in the quarter eventually bringing them to a 63-63 tie at halftime.

Isaiah Jackson fought some early foul trouble once again, but managed to make the most of his third quarter minutes by impacting the game outside of the box score. Where he did come up with 12 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks, his effort on the defensive end and drawing the attention of Cleveland’s defense allowed the Pacers to thrive in the third.

No doubt part of that was due to the hot scoring hand of Tyrese Haliburton. With Haliburton often searching for the perfect balance between scoring and playmaking, he went head-to-head with Garland in the third, scoring 16 points, going 6-6 from the floor in non-end of quarter heaves.

With the success of Indiana’s young guys, Hield and Brogdon seemed focused on setting up their success. They combined for 20 assists for the game and 10 shots between them in the first three quarters. Brogdon picked up his shooting in the fourth at the behest of Haliburton’s scoring success, ultimately limiting Haliburton to two points on 0-1 shooting in the fourth.

Hield meanwhile hit his first five shots, including 4-4 from three for 14 points before missing a wide open layup. Eight of Indiana’s nine players reached double figures, including 11 from Chris Duarte in his return from injury. Brogdon had Indiana’s lone double double with 12 points and 12 assists while Haliburton finished with a team high 25.

There were some steps forward tonight in terms of defense. Though it wasn’t great on the whole, especially as Garland repeatedly torched both Smith and Brogdon in the fourth, they held Cleveland to under 50% and just 9-32 from three. Unfortunately, they were also outscored 24-10 at the free throw line and 18-7 in points off turnovers, committing 18 to Cleveland’s seven.

The Cavs also dominated inside with 70 points in the paint, doing so without Jarrett Allen, including 19 second chance points. While the Pacers showed some breakaway potential in transition, it was another area that was all Cleveland, losing 24-14.

The losing streak extends to three with tonight’s loss, dropping them to 22-45 on the year. They’ll have a good while to sit on this before heading out on the road for a pair of games this weekend, enjoying three days off before tipping against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.