With thousands of Cleveland fans wearing curly, red-headed wigs.Anderson Varejao didn't miss a shot and scored 17 points in the first half as the defensive-minded Cavaliers(16-3), despite getting a season-low 11 points from LeBron James, won their seventh straight defeating Indiana 97-73 on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
James took it upon himself to concentrate on other phases of his game including shutting down Pacers leading scorer Danny Granger by holding him to just four points in 32 minutes on just 2-of-7 shot attempts on the night.
"He's the key to their team and they aren't going to be as good if he's not on,'' said James. "I just took it upon myself to lock in on him and let my team on the other end take care of the offense. It was all about defense. We have enough guys who can score.''
A perfect 11-0 at home, Cleveland has won 15 of 16 since starting this season 1-2.
Cleveland started the game by going 5-of-6 shooting from the field then went ice cold finishing the quarter on 3-of-17 shooting but managed to lead 21-20 at the end of the first period.
But the Pacers, who gave Cleveland its closest home game - a four-point loss on Nov. 7 when Granger scored 33 - couldn't stay with the Cavs.
Varejao got hot, he scored 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting - all jumpers - in the second quarter when Cleveland outscored the Pacers 31-18 to open a 14-point halftime lead.
The Cavs in the second half continued their defensive prowess by holding the Pacers to 16 points in the third quarter. After that the frustration started to set in with the Pacers.
With 4:26 remaining in the ball game, the Cavs leading 88-65 Granger shows James just how frustrated he was.
Beaten by James on a drive, Granger reached from behind and grabbed the right arm of King James having no part of being another poster child and pulled him down hard onto the court.
James didn't appreciate the rough treatment. The two exchanged a shove and Zydrunas Ilgauskas came to James' defense and got into it with Indiana's Troy Murphy, who also had Cleveland's Ben Wallace in his face.
James, Granger, Ilgauskas and Murphy were all given technicals.
After the referees separated Indiana and Cleveland's heated players, Cavaliers guard Mo Williams stood and stared at the Pacers. With his teammates surrounding him, Williams smiled and slowly shook his head from side to side.
"We're not backing down from anybody,'' Williams said. "We are going to protect our home.''
And protect they did. Williams and Ilgauskas finished with 17 apiece and Delonte West and Daniel Gibson had 14 points each.
James was just 4-of-12 from the field for 11 points. He also had 11 assists and eight rebounds in 38 minutes.
Murphy scored 15 points, and Stephen Graham added 14 for the Pacers, who earlier this week handed the Los Angeles Lakers just their second loss, beating them 118-117 when Murphy tipped in a miss at the buzzer.
The loss dropped the Pacers record to 7-12, and are nine games behind the Central Division lead by the Cavs.
The Cavs are doing it with a nasty, suffocating defense anchored by LeBron's three blocks shots on the night. Big's Ben and Z added two blocks a piece, and ten total as a team on the night.
"Defense,'' James said, "is our staple.''
We'll see if the Cavs can continue the party has they head to Charlotte to face the 7-12 Bobcats Saturday night.
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