LeBron James scored 24 points—mostly with Jackson trying to guard him—in the first half and finished with 27 to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 107-75 win over the flustered Pacers on Saturday night.
Indiana’s ugly loss was compounded by an incident in the first half involving Jackson, who was kicked off the Pacers’ bench by coach Rick Carlisle.
Late in the second quarter, Jackson was pulled by Carlisle and the two had words. Carlisle then pointed for Jackson to leave the bench area, banishing the fiery guard to the locker room for the remainder of the game.
“I substituted for him. He came to the bench and an exchange ensued that I thought was inappropriate and detrimental to the team,” Carlisle said. “So I made a decision to remove him from the bench.
“These games are difficult. If you don’t have everybody with a laser-like focus on one task, which is playing like a team and competing hard, it gets even more difficult.”
It’s the latest controversy surrounding Jackson. The 28-year-old is facing charges of firing a gun during a fight outside a strip club in Indianapolis on Oct. 6. He could go to trial in February.
Two years ago, Jackson went into the stands and fought Detroit fans during the Pacers’ infamous brawl with fans in Detroit.
Following the game, Jackson was on his way out of Quicken Loans Arena, escorted by two security personnel, when Pacers assistant coach Chuck Person summoned to have him brought back to the locker room.
Jackson went inside for a moment before leaving again. On his way out, Jackson declined an interview request.
“No,” he said. “I’m cool.”
Carlisle said he had not yet spoken with Jackson, and at this point no further discipline was planned.
“As of right now, this is a one-game situation and if that changes I’ll let you know,” Carlisle said. “I expect this is an incident that’s isolated and will be dealt with as such.
“I loved the way Jack played the last two games. He was a leader and he was focused. He had a great demeanor and he’s one of our better players and that’s what we expect from him every night. But when something like this happens, it has to be addressed.”
Jackson’s teammates had little to say afterward.
“Oh, no,” said forward Al Harrington. “Hear no evil, see no evil.”
James had seven rebounds, six assists and spent the entire fourth quarter relaxing on the bench. The Cavaliers built a 24-point lead in the first half and coasted to their most lopsided win this season.
Ilgauskas scored just two points on only two shots when the teams met on Nov. 24—a 10-point win by Indiana. But the 7-foot-3 center was able to maneuver inside as the Pacers were without forward Jermaine O’Neal, who missed his second straight game with a strained left hamstring.
Leading by 14 at halftime, the Cavaliers outscored Indiana 28-13 to open an 84-55 lead entering the fourth.
James, who went 10-of-11 from the floor in the first half, was replaced with 20 seconds to go in the third and got some rare rest on the bench in the final 12 minutes.
“I’m not very good at sitting, but it was good,” James said. “We did a good job jumping on a team and not letting up. It was great to finally get a blowout.”
Larry Hughes, who missed Cleveland’s previous 10 games with a sprained right ankle, scored eight points in 24 minutes.
However, Hughes’ return was tempered by the loss of Cavs forward Drew Gooden, who injured his left groin trying to dunk during pregame warmups.
With no O’Neal to block or impede their way, the Cavaliers drove to the basket at will in the first half for layups, and of course, a few dunks by James.
Cleveland led by 15 in the first quarter and extended its lead to 24 when James blasted down the left side for a layup with 3:20 to go before halftime. The bucket incited a chant of “You can’t stop him,” from fans in the upper deck at about the same time Jackson was being yanked by Carlisle.
The Pacers, though, cut 10 points off Cleveland’s lead as the 38-year-old Armstrong scored 10 points in the final 2:26 and started a 14-4 run as Indiana closed to 56-42 at halftime.
In the final seconds, LeBron James Jr. tossed an orange toy ball on the floor, drawing a roar from the crowd and a laugh from his dad. … James was an Olympic teammate of Allen Iverson’s and wouldn’t mind playing again with the 76ers’ troubled point guard, who appears to be on the verge of being traded by Philadelphia. “I’m not trying to stir something up around here, but he’s a Hall of Famer, who wouldn’t want to play with him?” James said. “Anyone in the league would want to play with a guy like that.” James feels the best thing for Iverson and Philly is to part ways. “It’s very difficult for him to swallow,” he said. “But he has to understand that and move on.” … The Cavaliers are 20-2 at home since March 5.