Perhaps winning the first game for new Pacers coach Frank Vogel was smoke and mirrors. They were at home, facing the Toronto Raptors and the worst defense in the league and barely held on. Tonight they barely held on to beat the worst team in the league.
After scoring the first 12 points in the game, the Pacers fell apart slowly for the next 44 minutes. The Cavs chipped away at the lead all game, slowly but surely taking the lead in the fourth quarter. Cleveland had lost 21 straight games coming into tonight, just two games shy of the NBA record.
It wasn't pretty, but the the Pacers held on to win in Cleveland, 117-112.
Indiana had six players score in double figures, but also gave up 112 points to the Cavaliers. Granger led the way with 23 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Darren Collison finished with 22 points and nine assists.
Roy Hibbert recorded another double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Paul George and Tyler Hansbrough each contributed with 13 points off the bench, and Tyler also grabbed eight rebounds.
The Pacers dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Cavs by 17. Despite turning the ball over 18 times and sending the Cavaliers to the free throw line 44 times, the Pacers were able to get the win, and end their five-game road losing streak. They will now take their two-game winning streak back home to Conseco Fieldhouse, where they will take on the Portland Trailblazers on Friday night.
It should be noted that the Cavs were without four of their best players tonight; Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson, Jamario Moon and Anderson Varejao. They have now lost 22 straight games, and 32 of their last 33 overall.
Unless they can win on Friday in Memphis, the Cavs will match the league's all-time mark for consecutive futility, a record shared by the 1995-96 expansion Vancouver Grizzlies and 1997-98 Denver Nuggets.
The 2-0 start for interim head coach Frank Vogel sounds great, but they got by two of the worst teams in the league by the skin on their teeth. They will face a much bigger challenge on Friday night, as they lost their previous game to Portland by five points, back on January 22.
There are some positives to take out of this game though. Looking at this team since Brandon Rush went down with his ankle injury, the Pacers fired Jim O'Brien, have given Paul George a lot more playing time, and are 2-0.
The emergence of Paul George is a bright spot for this team that is still chasing one of the final playoff spots in the dreadful Eastern conference. Since New Year's Eve, the rookie has had eight games where he has scored in double figures. He is shooting better than 50 percent from the floor, and has really been a boost to the offense. He still has some work to do on defense, but that can be said for nearly everyone on this team.
Frank Vogel has 10 games as head coach before the All-Star weekend arrives, giving the team a nice break. Two of them are now over, and both in the win column. They can really turn some heads if they can get number three Friday night against the Blazers.
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