Running thoughts: Pacers 97, Cavaliers 95

Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 97-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

  • Myles Turner missed his second game in a row due to a sore right elbow, an injury he sustained in Monday’s win over Milwaukee.
  • Guards Dwyane Wade (rest) and Isaiah Thomas (right hip) both held out being on the second night of a back-to-back. Derrick Rose (left ankle sprain) and Iman Shumpert (left knee) remain out.
  • Cleveland, after losing the last two games by a combined 62 points, raced ahead 26-6. They scored 22 points in a row.
  • The seven-minute dry spell was finally halted by a Lance Stephenson jumper. Notably, LeBron James was not on the court when they finally broke through. The Pacers missed 12 of their first 15 shots.
  • The first period was one to forget for the Pacers. 29 percent shooting (6 for 22) and a season-low 12 points in the quarter. This is a huge hole to climb out of, down 34-12. Cleveland didn’t turn it over and the Pacers were simply outplayed.
  • Al Jefferson provided the offensive spark the Pacers needed, scoring eight of their first 12 points in the second … in less than four minutes.
  • Thad Young hit two 3-pointers in the second, one more triple than the Pacers made as a team in their loss to Miami on Wednesday. 1 for 18.
  • The Pacers chopped away at the Cavs’ 22-point lead and outscored them in the second, 32-24. Still … they still have a ways to go — and they’re playing against a motivated LeBron, who had 14 points, four rebounds, eight asissts, and three steals at the break.
  • Great first three minutes to the second half as they outscored the Cavs 11-0 to draw to within three.
  • Darren Collison hit a corner jumper to give the Pacers their first lead since it was 6-4 two minutes in… They got it done defensively, keeping the Cavs to 6 of 21 shooting in the third and converting five turnovers into 11 points. Remarkably they led by two entering the fourth.
  • After Lance drilled a 3-pointer, he matched up against LeBron and irritated him immediately. It was petty, but he got in his head – at least temporarily. After a review, LeBron was given a technical foul for a light forearm shove and Stephenson hounded him on an inbound. Oladipo made the foul shot; Pacers up 84-82 with 7:53 left.
  • LeBron postgame: “I should have known. I’ve known since school, it’s not the guy who tells the joke that gets caught, it’s the guy who laughs. They caught me on a retaliation. But he played well tonight.”
  • Lance’s take: “You just can’t play regular defense on him, you have to get into him. It’s hard to get into his head but tonight I guess was the night that we did it.”
  • After the technical, LeBron made two shots and assisted on a Kevin Love 3-pointer. 7-0 run. Be careful who you irritate.
  • Big block of a Tristan Thompson layup by Domantas Sabonis, who’s playing heavier minutes with Turner out. Lance Stephenson grabbed the loose ball and took it the length of the floor and finished an off-balance layup. Second double-double of the year for Born Ready.
  • Lance on being fired up for his matchup: “Just playing against the best player in the league, trying to win against him. There’s a lot of fans coming out to support him so I just wanted to get they fans mad, too. [laughs] It’s just trying to have fun.”
  • Give the Pacers’ defense credit. They outscored the Cavaliers 8-0 over the final 3:57 as Cleveland missed its final eight shots.
  • LeBron finished with 27 points, eight rebounds, and 11 assists but made a costly mistake with five seconds left, stepping on the baseline. It was confirmed with replay. (See his response below.)
  • The Pacers turned it over just three times in the second half and scored the game’s final eights points. It was the Pacers’ sixth win when falling behind by at least 10 points.
  • Pacers complete their largest comeback of the season to beat the Cavaliers for the third time this season, 97-95. Lance was great off the bench – 16pts, 11rebs. LeBron (27pts, 8rebs, 11sts) missed his last four shots.
  • Up next: The Pacers (22-20) begin a five-game road trip out west Sunday in Phoenix.

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