CLEVELAND (AP) — Indiana coach Frank Vogel wasn’t in a very good mood before Monday’s game against Cleveland, and it was easy to see why.
Not only had the Pacers dropped two in a row, including a loss to lowly Philadelphia on Sunday, Vogel was going to be without forward David West, who missed the game with a back injury.
Thanks to a balanced attack, Vogel felt much better about things a few hours later. Gerald Green scored 20 points and Tyler Hansbrough, starting in place of West, had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Pacers to a 111-90 victory.
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West was out with a sprained lower back sustained against the 76ers, but the Pacers dominated without their second-leading scorer. Green scored 13 points in the second quarter and Hansbrough, making just his second start of the season, led a balanced attack.
Paul George scored 14 points while Roy Hibbert added 12 as the Pacers avoided losing three in a row for the third time this season.
“This was a great team win,” Vogel said. “Tyler is a starter in this league. Obviously, we got a big, big lift from Gerald Green.”
However, not everyone in the Pacers’ locker room was in a cheery mood. The bad blood that’s developed between the teams this season surfaced again late in the third quarter when Cavaliers center Marreese Speights was ejected for a flagrant foul 2 on George, the Pacers’ All-Star forward. George was driving for a fast-break layup when Speights grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the floor. The officials called Speights for a flagrant foul and ejected him after looking at the replay.
George made it clear he was unhappy with the hard foul.
“It was a punk play, honestly,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. Me and Mo Speights are cool, so I don’t think it’s anything personal, but that was a punk play the way he went after me like that.”
The teams had an altercation in their first meeting when Tristan Thompson and Hansbrough had to be separated after Thompson caught Hansbrough’s younger brother, Ben, with an errant elbow. Tyler Hansbrough and Daniel Gibson exchanged words when the teams met in December.
The teams play for the final time this season in Indiana on April 9 and it’s obvious the Pacers have left an impression on a young Cavaliers team.
“They came into our house and beat us down,” said Dion Waiters, who didn’t play after the first quarter because of a sore left knee.
“We have to come out and throw the first punch; be men about it,” said Tristan Thompson, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds. “Don’t sit back and see how Indiana is going to play.”
C.J. Miles led Cleveland with 21 points, but injuries continued to plague the Cavaliers. Waiters will be re-evaluated Tuesday and isn’t sure if he will play Wednesday when the Cavaliers host Miami. Cleveland also played its fourth straight game without All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who is out with a sprained left shoulder.
Green scored 13 points in the second quarter, including three 3-pointers in a stretch of 1:29, to spark a 20-7 run to end the period. Indiana led 40-38 midway through the quarter, but Green had 11 points and Tyler Hansbrough added a three-point play and a layup.
West missed just his second game this season, but Indiana continued to pull away in the second half. The Pacers built a 28-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Jeff Pendergraph added 11 points for Indiana, which had lost four of six. Indiana also maintained its hold on second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Cleveland has lost three in a row and was down to 10 players by the end of the game. NOTES: West, averaging 17.3 points, could play Tuesday at home against Orlando. “His back is pretty sore, so we’ll see,” said Vogel. … Indiana F Danny Granger, who has played in only five games this season because of a sore left knee, has been cleared to resume practicing. He could return to action next week. … Irving, who is expected to miss about three more weeks, is no longer wearing a sling on his left arm. … Cleveland F Luke Walton wore a temporary protective mask when he took the floor after sustaining a broken nose Saturday. He was run over attempting to take a charge from San Antonio’s Tim Duncan. Walton removed the mask after a few minutes and will be fitted with a permanent one in the next few days. He became the fourth Cleveland player this season to wear a mask after suffering a facial injury. Thompson, Irving and Tyler Zeller are the others.