Pacers 99, Cavaliers 85
The prospect of playing against LeBron James always brought out the best in Danny Granger.
Granger scored 34 points and the Indiana Pacers beat the short-handed Cavaliers 99-85 on Saturday night, handing Cleveland a four-game home losing streak for the first time since March 2003.
Granger, who has had five career games of 30 or more points against Cleveland, made 13 of 21 shots from the field and was 5 of 8 on 3-pointers.
''I used to always get excited to play against LeBron so that always got me up and I had a good game,'' Granger said. ''Playing Cleveland now, I guess it's just a bunch of good games.''
With James, the Cavaliers were 74-8 at home over the previous two seasons, but it's been a different story so far in 2010. Cleveland beat Boston in this season's opener at Quicken Loans Arena, but have since lost to Sacramento, Atlanta, New Jersey and Indiana.
Starters Mo Williams (strained left groin) and Anderson Varejao (bruised ribs) were out for Cleveland. Their absence was noticeable, particularly in the second half. The game was tied 54-all at halftime before the Pacers went on a 7-0 early in the third quarter, putting them ahead to stay. Back-to-back 3 pointers by Granger and Dunleavy early in the fourth quarter pushed Indiana's lead to nine.
Cleveland coach Byron Scott has said he thinks his players are pressing too much when they play at home, but pinpointed a different reason for the latest loss.
''I thought we stopped playing and that's two straight second halves,'' Scott said. ''We didn't play as hard as we're capable of playing. You've got to compete for 48 minutes, not 24 minutes.''
Granger scored 12 points in the first quarter and didn't cool off.
''I got it going early and pretty much carried it throughout the game,'' Granger said.
The Pacers dropped a 102-99 decision to Houston on Friday, a loss described as ''bitter'' by coach Jim O'Brien. That came one game after a record-breaking performance in a 144-113 win over Denver on Tuesday. Indiana scored a franchise-best 54 points in the third quarter and made 20 of 21 shots.
''It was a good bounce-back win,'' O'Brien said. ''Danny had a terrific, terrific game.''
''We lose at home, but we win the on the back-to-back on the road,'' Granger said. ''We got the one back from last night. It was good to come back on the road in front of a packed house and get the win.''
The Pacers had dropped 16 of 19 to the Cavaliers dating to Dec. 23, 2005, but pulled away for this victory.
The Cavaliers scored 31 points after halftime.
''We stopped trusting each other on the offensive end,'' Scott said. ''We stopped moving the ball. The second half we went to guys trying to do it on their own. It's not going to help us win basketball games.''
Indiana backup forward Tyler Hansbrough sprained his ankle in the second quarter and didn't return. O'Brien said he didn't expect Hansbrough to miss much playing time.
J.J. Hickson scored 12 points for Cleveland, but only two in the second half.
NOTES: Indiana starting point guard Darren Collison finished the game with five assists. He had no assists in 32 minutes Friday against Houston. ... Pacers center Jeff Foster has yet to play because of a sprained right ankle. ... The Cavaliers were called for an 8-second violation in the third quarter. ... Williams, Cleveland's second-leading scorer, missed most of training camp and didn't play in the first three games of the regular season because of a strained right groin.