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INDIANAPOLIS – The first quarter on Tuesday night could not have gone better for Nate McMillan.

His team was beating the Cavs by 22 points and it looked like the Pacers (27-13) were on their way to a convincing win, which is always nice on the first night of a back-to-back.

But any luxury of resting starters late would end up not happening in Cleveland.

Instead, the Pacers had to hold on late for a 123-115 victory over the bottom feeding Cavs (8-33).

That resulted in an upset McMillan after the victory.

“We’ve got to be better than that and we know it,” McMillan said. “We got off to a really good start, then in the second half, we played the scoreboard.

“We got cool-breeze and almost dropped a game that we had complete control over.”

Throughout the Indiana locker room on Tuesday, the tone sounded more like a loss.

“We played a good first 24 minutes, but the second 24 minutes were horrible,” veteran Thaddeus Young said.

The Pacers led by 20 points at halftime on Tuesday before the depleted Cavs slowly trimmed that margin.

It took a few big baskets from Young and Victor Oladipo late, for the Pacers to preserve a lead that fell all the way to 5 points late in the final quarter.

Young led the Pacers with 26 points. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 23.

Indiana played without Myles Turner (sore right shoulder) for a second straight game.

The Cavs have now lost 10 straight games, whereas the Pacers have won 7 of their last 8 games.


Three Pacers’ Takeaways:

Missed Opportunity: A win is a win is a win. Yes, that’s true. But listen to Nate McMillan and Thaddeus Young above. They know that it was a very sloppy second half for the Pacers, especially on the defensive end of the floor, which has been more of an issue lately. Also, Indiana missed a great chance to rest starters down the stretch, which would have been ideal going into a Wednesday night matchup with the Celtics. The Cavs have lost 10 in a row for a reason. This game should have been put away earlier, allowing Nate McMillan to keep his starters to around 25-30 minutes, and have guys rested for a tough road matchup in Boston.

Great With The Ball: A huge reason why the Pacers got off to such a quick start on Tuesday and scored 123 points was because of an elite assist-to-turnover night. The Pacers had 34 assists and just 6 turnovers against the Cavs. The numbers were pretty darn impressive from the Pacers’ key ball handlers. Point guards Darren Collison and Cory Joseph combined for 15 assists and 0 turnovers. The Pacers’ 5 starters on Tuesday has just 2 turnovers (both by Victor Oladipo) in 162 total minutes on the floor. Tuesday was a pretty good night by the Pacers for an instructional video on proper ball movement.

Cameo From T.J. Leaf: One thing that Tuesday did offer was some rare action for T.J. Leaf. With Myles Turner out, and the Pacers wanting to monitor minutes for Thaddeus Young and Domantas Sabonis a bit, they used Leaf for 12 minutes. In the previous 14 games for the Pacers, Leaf had played a total of 9 minutes. Against the Cavs, Leaf had 9 points (on 4-of-5 shooting) and 4 rebounds in his 12 minutes on the floor. Is Leaf going to crack the consistent rotation this season? No. But you are still trying to develop the 21-year-old forward so one day he can be a key part of your rotation.



Pacers Upcoming Schedule

-at Celtics (Wednesday, 1/9)

-at Knicks (Friday, 1/11)

-Suns (Tuesday, 1/15)

-76ers (Thursday, 1/17)

-Mavericks (Saturday, 1/19)

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