INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Paul George scored 29 points and C.J. Miles added 21, helping the Indiana Pacers blow out the Cleveland Cavaliers – with LeBron James getting the night off – 123-109 on Wednesday night.
Indiana ended a four-game losing streak in the series and still leads eighth-place Detroit by a half-game. Ninth-place Chicago, still vying for one of the final two playoff spots in the East, is now three games behind the Pacers.
The Cavaliers played without the four-time MVP James, who rested after playing Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Without James, Kyrie Irving had 26 points and six assists. Kevin Love scored 23.
Indiana took control with a 14-0 second-quarter spurt that made it 55-41. Cleveland got within nine at halftime and closed to 83-74 in the third quarter.
The Pacers then answered with a 13-4 spurt to make it an 18-point game and the Cavs couldn’t get closer than 12.
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue explained before the game that James was not injured. Instead, he’s on a minutes limitation as the regular season winds down and even though Cleveland still has not clinched the top seed in the East.
For Indiana, James’ absence and a rejuvenated offense were exactly what it needed to continue a late-season playoff push.
The Pacers have won three straight. Cleveland’s four-game winning streak came to an end.
LIFE WITHOUT LEBRON
The Cavs always struggle when James sits out and it was never more evident than Wednesday. Cleveland went 8 of 29 on 3-pointers, after going 18 of 36 on Tuesday. Indiana also had season-high point totals in the first quarter (36) and at halftime (70) and came up three points short of their single-game season high. Since James returned to Cleveland, the Cavs are 4-14 when he doesn’t play.
Cavaliers: The only other players to reach double figures were J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson with 10 each. … Smith had been averaging 20.0 points in his previous three games and was 7 of 9 on 3s in the first half at Milwaukee. … Cleveland’s 16-game streak with 10 or more 3s ended. Golden State set the NBA record (16) earlier this season. … Love finished with five rebounds.
Pacers: Have won every game since Lavoy Allen replaced rookie Myles Turner in the starting lineup. … Indiana shot 56.3 percent from the field Wednesday after making just 43.7 percent of their shots in the first three games against the Cavs this season. Indiana also was 16 of 31 from beyond the arc. … Solomon Hill had a season high 15 points and matched his career high with three 3s. … Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano attended the game.
Cavaliers: Visit Chicago on Saturday.
Pacers: Travel to Toronto on Friday.