Seven-Game Win Streak Snapped By Cavaliers
The Indiana Pacers led early on Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the defending NBA champions used a massive third quarter to down Al Jefferson and Co. and halt their seven-game win streak, 132-117.
The night began encouragingly enough for the Pacers, who broke open a double-digit lead with an 11-0 run that put the score at 24-14 with 4:21 left in the first. Indiana led by as many as 15 in the quarter and shot 60 percent en route to a 36-25 lead.
Indiana’s first points in the second quarter came from offense provided by Big Al. With 10:55 until the half, Al backed down Channing Frye and got around him for a layup and put in a running jumper in the paint less than a minute later on a pass from Paul George.
Only afforded three minutes of playing time, Al made the most of them with five points and three rebounds in his short time on the court.
The teams traded baskets for much of the second with the lead moving between seven and 11, but the Cavs cut their deficit to four with four minutes left in the half. The Pacers responded with a 9-2 run to push the lead back to 11 with 1:27 left in the second. The Cavs scored the last five points of the half, though, and Indiana took a six-point lead into the third.
Cleveland wasted no time in the third, scoring the first five points out of the locker room to make it a one-point game. The Pacers scored five straight of their own on jumpers by Myles Turner and C.J. Miles, but the Cavs kept attacking. From there, Cleveland went on a 14-2 run to take a 78-72 lead. The Pacers got as close as 78-76 with 6:28 left in the third, but Cleveland closed the quarter on a 19-5 run to take a commanding lead going into the fourth. Overall Indiana was outscored 40-18 in the quarter.
The Pacers made one final stand in the fourth, scoring nine straight to cut the lead to 114-107 with 4:31 left to play. The Cavs then went on a 10-1 run that included two Kyle Korver threes to put the game away for good.
“At the start of the third quarter, you can’t come out not focused and ready to go as we did,” said Nate McMillan of his team’s third quarter performance. “You’ve got to be calm in games like this. We got rattled…it was a good lesson for us. We should learn from this.”
The Pacers brutal February schedule continues when they face the Washington Wizards on the road on Friday and fly home to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. Tip off is at 8 and 7 p.m. EST respectively for those games.