Cleveland (7-18) at Indiana (11-13)

By ALAN FERGUSON, STATS Writer Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 Tipoff: 7:00 pm EST Fri Dec 17, 2010

The Indiana Pacers are 2-6 this month and have suffered three consecutive double-digit defeats. While that slump has been rough, it’s far better than what the Cleveland Cavaliers have endured.

The Cavs will be trying to avoid their 10th straight loss and 11th in a row on the road when they face the Pacers on Friday night.

Cleveland (7-18) is 0-8 in December, losing six of those contests by double figures and getting outscored by 18.5 points over the nine-game skid. The team managed to stay competitive against former Cavs star LeBron James(notes) and Miami on Wednesday, but fell 101-95 despite pulling within three with 1:33 left.

Cleveland’s Daniel Gibson(notes) had a season-high 26 points and Anderson Varejao(notes) added 18 points and 15 rebounds.

“I couldn’t ask for them to play any harder than they played,” coach Byron Scott said. “I thought they were terrific effort-wise. They competed for 48 minutes.”

Facing the struggling Pacers would appear to give Cleveland a good chance to avoid adding to its longest skid since it dropped 15 in a row from Nov. 6-Dec. 2, 2002. The Cavs last lost 11 straight on the road Jan. 28-March 26, 2005.

The Cavaliers, however, have lost their two meetings with Indiana this season by an average of 12.5 points, scoring 87.0 points on 40.4 percent shooting in those contests.

In the most recent matchup Nov. 23 at Indianapolis, Cleveland trailed by 27 after three quarters and lost 100-89. The Cavs outscored the Pacers 33-17 in the final 12 minutes, but that was after Indiana outscored them 38-21 in the second period.

Danny Granger(notes) led Indiana with 24 points and has averaged 31.3 during the Pacers’ three consecutive wins in the series. He scored 34 in a 99-85 victory at Cleveland on Nov. 13.

Granger, though, has shot 34.4 percent over the last four games and hasn’t scored more than 18 points in his last three. The forward, averaging 20.7 points, had 13 in his return from a sprained ankle Wednesday after missing one game.

The Pacers fell 109-94 at home Wednesday to the Los Angeles Lakers, who were never seriously threatened after building a 22-point halftime lead.

“I’m not very happy with the way we competed, in all candor,” coach Jim O’Brien said. “You’ve got to bring a certain ethic to the game and frankly, we haven’t.”

The Pacers have scored 83.3 points per game during their season-high three straight defeats, which have come by an average of 16.0 points. Indiana is averaging 98.3 points on the season and 103.4 at home.

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Friday, Dec 17