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Lance Rattles LeBron, Pacers Register Another Win Over Cavs

Down 22 points early on Friday night, the Pacers did not quit in dialing up a comeback victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – Overcoming a 20-0 run is rarely a recipe for success, but the Indiana Pacers had the right chefs in the kitchen on Friday night.

The Pacers beat the Cavaliers for a 3rd time in 3 tries this season by erasing a 22-point deficit and finishing off a 3-1 homestead.

Indiana’s 97-95 victory over the Cavs on Friday night sends them into their longest western road trip of the season with a 22-20 record.

Early on it certainly didn’t look like the Pacers would be carrying that victorious momentum into their upcoming road trip.

But an 11-0 start to the second half on Friday kept things more than interesting the rest of the way.

LeBron James and Lance Stephenson were once again the centers of attention.

With the Cavs reeling after allowing nearly 130 points per game in their last 3, the Pacers got a motivated LeBron and company in Friday’s first quarter.

Indiana scored a season-low 12 points in the first.

However, like they’ve had to do too often as of late, the Pacers clawed their way back with strong play from their guards.

After halftime, Indiana did a much better job in limiting turnovers and getting back on defense. The Pacers had just 3 turnovers after halftime and didn’t allow a single point off turnovers.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse rose to their feet with 8 minutes left in the 4th, as LeBron was whistled for a technical foul for shoving Stephenson.

It was just another act in their twos ‘chippy’ history.

"Lance is just a little dirty,” LeBron said after Cleveland’s 3rd straight loss. “That's all. He's a little dirty. We got history. I already know that. I've known since school that it's not the guy who tells the joke who gets caught, it's the guy who laughs. They caught me on the retaliation. But he played well tonight."

Stephenson did play well, scoring 16 points and adding 11 rebounds off the bench.

Behind Darren Collison (22 points on 9-of-11 shooting) and Victor Oladipo (19 points), the Pacers’ backcourt made up for the absence of Myles Turner and a struggling Domatnas Sabonis from the field.

Oladipo once again provided the late-game heroics.

His pull-up three pointer with 2:10 remaining gave the Pacers a 96-95 lead.

Neither team made a field goal the rest of the way, with Indiana finishing the game on an 8-0 run.

Cleveland had a chance in the final 10 seconds, but LeBron stepped out of bounds on a baseline drive that saw the smaller Collison switched onto the game’s best player.

“DC felt like Lance got hung up on a screen and called the switch,” Oladipo said of the late turnover. “He just did a great job of getting under LeBron, trying to force him to go baseline, making it easier for us to help. Luckily, he stepped out of bounds.”

With the win, the Pacers have clinched the season series over the Cavs.

The two teams will wrap up their 4-game season series on Jan. 26 in Cleveland.

What’s Next: The Pacers (22-20) are now going on their longest road trip of the season out west. The five-game trip will look like this: Suns (Sunday), Jazz (Monday), Trailblazers (Thursday), Lakers (Friday) and Spurs (next Sunday).

After 5 games in Las Vegas, let’s take a closer look at what was observed from watching Aaron Holiday, T.J. Leaf and Alize Johnson.
The Pacers have a long line of Most Improved Players of the Year. Victor Oladipo thinks Myles Turner could be next.
There’s more insight into why Lance Stephenson will not be coming back to the Pacers next season.
With the major free agency moves for the Pacers done this summer, team president Kevin Pritchard explains why Indiana operated the way it did in free agency.
On Friday morning, the Pacers continued their free agent additions this summer with the signing of veteran forward Kyle O’Quinn. How does O’Quinn fit into the 2018-19 Pacers?