|Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger, left, and guard George Hill celebrate after Granger scored during the overtime period of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Indianapolis, Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. The Pacers won 98-91 in overtime. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)|
Granger leads Pacers in 98-91 OT win over Cavs
INDIANAPOLIS—Another ugly game, another win for the Indiana Pacers.
Danny Granger scored nine of his 22 points in overtime, after No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving missed a layup that would have won it at the end of regulation, and Indiana beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91 on Friday night.
Indiana has shot below 40 percent from the field in each game this season, yet is off to a 3-0 start. Indy went 0-19 last season when shooting under 40 percent, but the Pacers have a new identity this season under coach Frank Vogel, a hard-nosed approach that emphasizes defense and rebounding.
Gone are the days when the Pacers flung 3-pointers at will -- Indiana made just two against the Cavaliers. Indiana had three players with double-doubles for points and rebounds for the second time this season: Roy Hibbert had 17 points and 13 rebounds, David West had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Tyler Hansbrough added 11 points and 12 boards.
It's what Vogel calls "smash mouth basketball." And the Pacers say they are only going to get better.
"When we start shooting over 40 percent, it's going to look a lot prettier out there, and we won't have to grind these wins out," Hibbert said. "Just to be able to do this now is great."
Part of the reason Indiana has been able to get away with shooting so poorly is the team's ability to make shots at key moments. Granger shot just 5 of 17 in regulation, but was 3 of 5 in the extra period. On Wednesday against Toronto, Granger made two big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter after struggling throughout the game.
"That's what Danny does," Hibbert said. "He makes big shots down the stretch and we follow his lead. David and I try to be defensive anchors, and everything else falls into place."
George Hill added 15 points for the Pacers.
Irving led Cleveland with 20 points in his best game so far, but missed a layup that would have won the game at the end of regulation. Irving got by his defender and drove the lane for an open shot, but the ball rimmed out, and the game went to overtime.
"I had a great look at it," the 19-year-old Irving said. "Wish it would have gone down for me and my teammates to get this win, but it didn't. We fought hard in overtime. We just didn't come out with the win."
The Pacers knew they got away with one.
"Irving is a heck of a player," Vogel said. "Not `going to be,' but right now. He got by our pick-and-roll defense and got penetration to the basket. Fortunately, he missed."
Irving said he'd learn from the experience.
"I left it all out there in the floor," he said. "All you can do is leave it out there, play hard, and go to sleep and get better the next day."
Anderson Varejao added 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison each scored 12 points for the Cavaliers.
The score was tied late in regulation until West made a pair of free throws with 2:12 left to give the Pacers an 82-80 lead.
Irving made one of two free throws to cut it to 82-81 heading into the final minute.
Parker's 3-pointer as the shot clock expired gave Cleveland an 84-82 lead with 17.5 seconds left. Indiana, with no timeouts, immediately went into its offense. West nearly lost the ball, regained control, drove and dropped in a floater with 4.4 seconds left to tie the score.
Granger took over in the extra period. He hit a layup while closely defended by Alonzo Gee. Jamison's 3-pointer was blocked by West, then Granger hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to put the Pacers up 93-87, and Indiana maintained its lead from there.
The Pacers led 70-61 at the end of the third quarter. Cleveland made just 4 of 18 shots and committed seven turnovers in the period.
Hill carried the Pacers early in the fourth quarter. He hit a baseline jumper, then converted a three-point play to push Indiana's lead to 75-64. Cleveland rallied, and a reverse layup by Irving trimmed the Pacers' lead to 76-72 and forced Indiana to call timeout with 6:40 remaining. The game remained close the rest of the way.
"We took some bad shots, made some bad plays down the stretch, and we added fuel to the fire by giving up layups on the other end and giving Anthony Parker open threes," Granger said.
Cleveland coach Byron Scott said it was a positive step for his young team.
"We had an opportunity to win the game before the overtime period, but I just loved the way our guys competed, against a team we feel is one of the better teams in the East," he said. "Our effort was fantastic and something we should be proud of."
Notes: Indiana F/C Jeff Foster sat out with a sore lower back. Vogel said he planned to use Foster sparingly early in the season anyway. ... Cleveland coach Scott played for the Pacers for two years. ... Indiana F Jeff Pendergraph missed the game with a sore right knee. ... The Pacers failed to make a 3-pointer in the first half and Cleveland made just one. .. Cleveland G Daniel Gibson left the game in the second quarter with a sprained right ring finger. He returned in the third quarter. ... Cleveland's Samardo Samuels fouled out with 9:25 remaining.
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