Pacers 98, Cavaliers 77

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers are already in postseason mode.

Miller scored 17 points and Stephen Jackson had 23 to lead Indiana to its fifth straight victory, 98-77 over the slumping Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

“We’ve taken the approach that the playoffs really started in late March for us,” Miller said. “Right now, we are probably playing the best basketball we’ve played all year.”

The Pacers hold the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of the Cavaliers, who have lost nine of 13.

“We want to go in the playoffs with some momentum,” Jackson said after hitting 8-of-16 field goals. “We’re happy to be in the playoffs, but we want to win a championship.”

The game was never close after the Pacers held the Cavaliers to 10 points in the second quarter. Cleveland made just 3 of 22 shots in the quarter and 36 percent for the game.

LeBron James scored 20 points on 9-for-18 shooting for Cleveland.

James said frustration is mounting for the Cavs, who fired coach Paul Silas was fired on March 21.

“We’ve lost our coach, we’ve gotten new ownership, and then we stopped playing our No. 1 point guard (Jeff McInnis) for no reason,” he said. “I’d say that messed up our chemistry.”

McInnis started Wednesday, scoring 10 points in 31 minutes. He had not played in the Cavs’ previous two games.

Cleveland was without center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who dislocated his right ring finger in a loss to New Jersey on Tuesday night. He will be re-evaluated after the swelling subsides. The Cavaliers’ reserves were scoreless in the first half.

“We caught a break with Ilgauskas out,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “The key was that we had to play the game at the right tempo.”

He said last time the teams played at Cleveland, the Cavaliers were able to get their transition game going and the Pacers couldn’t keep up.

“We were pretty efficient at both ends. I thought as a team, we reacted pretty well to LeBron, even though he had 20 points,” Carlisle said.

Cavaliers interim coach Brendan Malone said his team was a thin without Ilgauskas.

“We struggled to score,” he said. “We need people to step up, and we need a tremendous defensive effort.”

The Pacers led by double digits for most of the game, leading by 17 points at the half and 20 after three quarters.


Miller hit both of his free throws Wednesday, running his current streak to 60, just shy of his season-best 61. … The Cavaliers are 4-6 under Malone. … A broadcast report after Tuesday’s loss indicated that Cleveland GM Jim Paxson soon would be fired. Owner Dan Gilbert declined comment in a statement released by the team.

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