The Cleveland Cavaliers picked up a much-need win on Friday against the Indiana Pacers, and a big night from J.R. Smith led the way.
Smith, who has struggled for most of this season, made seven three-pointers as part of a 23-point performance in Cleveland’s 115-108 win. LeBron James’ 26 point, 11 assist, 10 rebound (and 11 turnover) night helped too. Tristan Thomson, back in the starting lineup for the first time since November, finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Victor Oladipo led Indiana with 23 points.
The Cavs held a seven-point lead after the first quarter with Smith shooting 4-6 from three. In the second, Smith made another two three-pointers as part of a 35-point outburst in the quarter by the Cavs. Cleveland also held it’s own for the first six-plus minutes while every starter sat and a bench unit of Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green and Channing Frye held its own. The Cavs’ starters returned with 5:19 to play, and outscored the Pacers by eight points to give Cleveland a 13-point lead at halftime.
The third quarter saw the Cavs extend their lead to 17 heading into the fourth quarter, but it saw it evaporate into a single-digit game heading with minutes to play. The Pacers got within as many as five points with under two minutes to play, and had a chance to cut the lead to two points when Darren Collison missed an open three-pointer with 1:11 to play.
Cleveland, though, hung on when James pushed the Cavs’ lead back to seven on the next possession and then came up with a steal Indiana tried to respond. Two Korver free throws with 6.9 seconds to go sealed the win. Friday marks the Cavs’ first win against the Pacers this season; they were previously 0-3.
The only Cavalier to have an overall frustrating night was Isaiah Thomas. He finished 12 points on 5-13 shooting — including 2-8 on three-pointers — to go along with five turnovers and five assists. He was booed by the Quicken Loans Arena crowd at least twice and picked up a technical foul out of frustration in the third quarter. He was pulled out of the game at the same moment for Rose, who then proceeded to score seven straight points.
The Cavs next play on Sunday at home against the Pistons. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.