Irving leads Cavaliers to rare win at Indiana in OT
INDIANAPOLIS — Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving spent the break between regulation and overtime urging his teammates to close out Monday night.
He spent the next 5 minutes demonstrating what he meant.
The All-Star guard scored six of his 25 points in overtime and made four free throws in the final minute to help the Cavaliers pull out a 111-106 victory over the Pacers for their fifth straight win and their first in Indianapolis in six years.
“We gave ourselves a chance, now it was time to lock in and do what we were supposed to do,” Irving said, describing the animated conversation. “We got stops and, obviously, they were making shots so it was going to be tough down the stretch, but we just wanted to get out and run.”
While the Cavs didn’t exactly run away in overtime, Irving made sure they had the upper hand.
He had plenty of help, too.
LeBron James finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, though he scored only seven points after hurting his right shoulder in the third quarter. The four-time MVP continued playing with what he called a stinger and made an 11-foot jumper with 1:40 left in overtime to finally give the Cavs the lead for good.
Kevin Love and J.R. Smith each scored 19 points, while Tristan Thompson finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds — marking the seventh time this season all five Cleveland starters reached double figures.
Irving delivered the game’s biggest plays, scoring four straight in overtime to finally give Cleveland a three-point lead, and the free throws that essentially sealed it.
“We’re just learning how to win, that’s all,” James said. “We’re learning how to win in tough situations and tonight was one of those.”
It sure didn’t look like the game would be too tough after the Cavs shot 61.9 percent in the first half and took a 60-49 halftime lead.
But Indiana rallied by limiting the surging Cavs to just 15 points in the third quarter as it took a 79-75 lead.
They didn’t trail again until James’ layup with 1:16 left in regulation made it 94-93, but they retook the lead on George Hill’s 3-pointer and had a chance to win it when Monta Ellis badly missed a midrange jumper at the buzzer.
That’s when Irving spoke up and the game turned.
Love opened the overtime with a 3 and after James’ jumper made it 105-104, the Pacers never led again.
Hill matched his season-high with 23 points and rookie Myles Turner recorded his first double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Turner also had four blocks, including one late in the fourth quarter when he stuffed the driving James at the rim.
It just wasn’t enough against the defending Eastern Conference champs.
“It’s frustrating, but I’m encouraged,” coach Frank Vogel said. “Our two best scorers had off shooting nights and we still had a chance to beat the best team in the East.”
ALL ABOUT THE ‘D’
Vogel and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue both talked about the need for defense before the game. And they weren’t quiet about it after the game, either. Vogel called the Pacers’ second-half defense “spectacular.” Lue said his players “continued to fight.”
Paul George finished with 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds, but it wasn’t a great night for the Pacers’ All-Star. He was 3 of 15 from the field and 1 of 5 on 3s. Ellis also struggled, going 5 of 18 and 1 of 8 on 3s.
Cleveland has played faster since Lue took over for the fired David Blatt. But the Pacers outscored Cleveland 16-9 on the fast break and 25-13 on second-chance points.
Cavaliers: Cleveland had lost 10 straight in Indy since winning Jan. 29, 2010. … The Cavs are a league-best 10-1 on the road since Dec. 28. … Cleveland’s streak of four-game streak of scoring at least 114 points ended. … James needs 14 points to pass Kevin Garnett (26,071) for No. 16 on the NBA’s scoring list. … Smith made four 3s to pass Mike Miller (1,577) for No. 18. Smith has 1,580.
Pacers: Indiana played without center Ian Manini (back) and guard Rodney Stuckey (sprained right foot and bone bruise). … The loss ended Indiana’s two-game winning streak.
Cavaliers visit Charlotte on Wednesday night.
Pacers visit Brooklyn on Wednesday night.