Granger’s 36 lead Indiana over Cavs’ backups
With nothing left to play for, Brown doesn’t want to risk injury to LeBron James(notes) or another one of his starters. Cleveland’s coach benched most of them Friday, allowing Indiana to escape with a 116-113 victory for the Pacers’ ninth win in 11 games.
Danny Granger(notes) scored 36 points, including nine of Indiana’s final 11, and the Pacers beat a Cleveland team that was without starters James, Antawn Jamison(notes), Mo Williams(notes), Shaquille O’Neal(notes) and backup Daniel Gibson(notes).
James and Williams were both healthy scratches, while Jamison bruised his foot in a loss at Chicago on Thursday.
“I’m human just like everybody else,” Brown said. “When you see Bosh get hit and Antawn’s ankle and stuff like that, you do get a little worried.”
Bosh needed surgery this week to repair a nasal fracture after getting hurt in Cleveland and will miss the first round of the playoffs, should Toronto earn the eighth seed.
With home-court advantage clinched through the NBA finals, Brown hasn’t ruled out benching James for the rest of the regular season. Cleveland hosts Orlando on Sunday in what could be a prelude to an Eastern Conference finals rematch, then closes the regular season at Atlanta on Wednesday.
“There’s a chance,” Brown said. “I talked about that with my staff and I talked about it a little bit with (James), too. We’ll take that one game at a time and see how it goes.”
The Pacers were happy to take advantage of the Cavaliers’ cautious ways, ending a 10-game losing streak in Cleveland.
Granger’s 3-pointer with 1:22 left gave the Pacers a 108-106 lead. They never trailed again, but didn’t secure the victory until Anthony Parker’s(notes) turnaround 3-pointer at the buzzer fell well short of the rim.
Brandon Rush(notes) and Earl Watson(notes) each had 16 points, Troy Murphy(notes) had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Roy Hibbert(notes) added 12 as the Pacers put all five starters in double figures. Watson also had 10 assists.
“It’s a great confidence win,” Granger said. “I don’t care who isn’t playing for them. They’re still a very good team.”
Parker’s 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left rattled around before falling, pulling Cleveland within one in the final seconds. Granger was fouled and made both free throws, leaving the Cavaliers one final shot.
Telfair joined the Cavaliers as part of the three-team trade that also brought Jamison at the trade deadline. Telfair couldn’t break into Cleveland’s rotation until Brown sat his regulars Thursday, but he hasn’t shown any rust.
Telfair has scored 29 points and made 12-of-21 shots in two games.
“It’s a good team and they’ve had a lot of success before I got here,” Telfair said. “It takes getting on the court to really feel part of the team.”
With so many regulars missing, the Cavaliers relied heavily on reserves. Jamario Moon(notes) started for the first time this season and finished with a season-high 15 points, while Ilgauskas had 14 off the bench. Parker remained a starter and scored 17 points.
Cleveland was whistled for three technicals. Delonte West(notes) received a pair, both within two minutes from official Marc Davis, and was ejected with 6:48 left in the third quarter. West set a career high with 12 assists before getting tossed. Ilgauskas also got a technical in the first half for arguing a foul call with official Kane Fitzgerald.
NOTES: Granger was 14 of 14 from the free-throw line. … Granger entered averaging 24.2 points, but has now scored at least 30 in seven of his last 10 games. … Indiana made 14 of 32 3-pointers. … Cleveland fell to 1-3 this season without James. … The loss ended Cleveland’s third 11-game home winning streak of the season.