Basketball: Cavs trio outclass Pacers

Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving (left) dribbling the ball as Indiana guard George Hill (centre) tries to defend against him. The Cavaliers won 111-106 in overtime.
Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving (left) dribbling the ball as Indiana guard George Hill (centre) tries to defend against him. The Cavaliers won 111-106 in overtime. PHOTO: REUTERS

'Big Three' lead Cleveland in overtime for 5th straight win, Indiana fall to 7th loss in last 10

INDIANAPOLIS • There is a specific reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are referred to as "The Big Three".

Big-time situations call for big-time results and, in the Cavaliers' 111-106 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday, James, Irving and Love made the big difference.

Cleveland (35-12), who extended their winning streak to five National Basketball Association games, outscored the Pacers 15-10 in overtime with Irving scoring eight points, James adding four and Love sinking a three-pointer.

Irving finished with a game-best 25 points, three rebounds and seven assists. James added 24 points, 12 rebounds and six assists and Love had 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. The trio finished 26-of-57 from the field.

"We knew what we came here to do and that was to take care of business," Irving said.

NEVER GIVE UP

I just told the guys that we can't resort back to bad habits when things get tough. We have to continue to play the same way we have been playing.

TYRONN LUE, Cavaliers coach, on getting his players to win tough games.

"We knew it would be a hard-fought game and we were locked in. They made a run in the third quarter but we came back in the fourth quarter and overtime."

James gave the Cavaliers the lead for good with 1min 37sec left in the extra period and two Irving free throws pushed Cleveland's lead to 107-104 with 43.2 seconds to go.

Irving and James each sank two free throws during the final 13.7 seconds as Cleveland improved to 25-2 when scoring 100 points or more and 25-3 when leading at half-time.

"It was a great win for us, considering we haven't won here in six years," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said.

"I just told the guys that we can't resort back to bad habits when things get tough. We have to continue to play the same way we have been playing."

It was Cleveland's first victory in Bankers Life Fieldhouse after 10 consecutive losses in the venue. The Cavs had not won there since Jan 29, 2010.

According to ESPN, the Cavaliers' recent strong play has emanated from a players-only meeting, which was held after general manager David Griffin informed the team that previous coach David Blatt had been fired.

A central issue in the discussion was the need for accountability within the team, and, according to ESPN's sources, James, Irving and Love came to an understanding that they needed to monitor each other on certain matters and use their influence within the team to set a standard for accountability.

That was frequently a missing component over the past season and a half - sometimes creating friction.

On Monday, guard George Hill led the Pacers (25-23) with 23 points and centre Jordan Hill added 17 as Indiana lost for the seventh time in their last 10 games.

Guard J.R. Smith added 19 points for the Cavaliers.

The Pacers had an opportunity to win in regulation, but Monta Ellis missed a 17-foot jumper with one second left on the clock after the potential game-winning play broke down when Myles Turner forgot to set a pick for Ellis coming out of a timeout.

"I kind of forgot the play," a disappointed Turner said. "It's tough to get over losses like this one."

Indiana slipped to 1-5 in overtime games. Cleveland are 2-2.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2016, with the headline 'CAVS TRIO OUTCLASS PACERS'. Print Edition | Subscribe