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Pacers beat Cavs as Hansbrough, Thompson clash again

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- If you didn't know better, you'd think these two teams didn't like each other.

For the second consecutive game between the two teams, Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough and Cleveland's Tristan Thompson got into a brief skirmish.

And, for the second meeting in a row, the Pacers pounded the Cavs, 99-89, on Friday before 14,105 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Both forwards earned technical fouls with 10:39 left in the game.

Cavs guard Daniel Gibson said after the game Hansbrough had better settle down or he'll get "messed up" out there.

Thompson said he tried to ignore Hansbrough, nicknamed "Psycho T."

"He started in on me," Thompson said. "That doesn't faze me. I don't pay attention to it."

Thompson did pay attention to Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who had a game-high 18 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

"They play inside out," Thompson said. "Hibbert came out aggressively for them."

The Cavs (5-23) played without perhaps their best player in center Anderson Varejao. That affected their interior defense and rebounding. The Pacers outrebounded the Cavs, 44-35.

The Cavs had a one-point edge at halftime, 45-44. But that changed in the third quarter when the Pacers made 68 percent of their shots (15-for-22) and outscored the Cavs, 33-22.

"The third quarter was an illustration of what not to do," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "I don't know what the remedy is of getting everyone engaged."

The Pacers scored 26 of their 33 points in the paint, as they attacked the rim with a vengeance. Varejao's absence left a gaping hole in the Cavs' interior defense.

Rookie Tyler Zeller started in place of Varejao, and he finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. But he doesn't play with Varejao's fire and intensity.

"We had some breakdowns in our rotations," Zeller said. "We have to get there and make those plays. (Hibbert) scored on a couple deep post-ups on me. He scored in a lot of different ways."

Scott admitted he was almost at wit's end with the team's losing ways. They've lost six in a row and 21 of the last 24. They also dropped to 0-8 in the Central Division this season, 0-17 dating back to last year.

Scott also said star guard Kyrie Irving was "not really" engaged in the game. He finished with a team-high 17 points and five assists. However, he shot just 5-for-16 from the field and committed six turnovers. In the last five games, Irving has had more turnovers (23) games than assists (22).

"When they started to make their run, I tried to be aggressive," he said. "I'm trying to find that balance where I get everyone involved. I'm trying to get my bigs shots and my guards shots. I'm still trying to figure it out. It's frustrating at times, but it's a process."

Thompson was active on the boards and might have been the Cavs' best player Friday. He recorded his seventh double-double with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

For the Pacers (15-12), guard Lance Stephenson had 16 points and seven assists, while George Hill added 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

"We had great balance with our starting five with all guys in double figures," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Most of them shot a good percentage."

The 33-point third quarter was the difference in the game.

"We were moving the ball and getting guys involved," Pacers forward David West said. "We were also able to take away certain strengths they were exploiting."

NOTES: Varejao missed Friday's game and is expected to also miss Saturday's game vs. Milwaukee with a bruised right knee. "Andy doesn't want to miss games," Scott said. "We want to get that knee as healthy as possible." If he sits out of Saturday's game, he will be out a week. Scott said the Dec. 26 game at Washington might be the target date for Varejao's return. "I don't want to put him out there at risk," Scott said. "I don't want to put him out there at 75 percent. It's nothing long term. I'm just looking out for Andy. It's better that it's two or three games than 40-some games." He is leading the league in rebounding at 14.4 per game. ... Vogel said he'd reach out to Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who is expected to return to the Colts on Monday after a bout with leukemia. "I'd like to touch bases with him in the next couple days and wish him happy holidays," Vogel said. "I want to tell him we're all grateful to him for getting through this." ... Zeller will remain in the starting lineup at least until Varejao returns. In his first start, he had 20 points and three rebounds against Boston's Kevin Garnett on Wednesday. "To respond the way he did against a future Hall of Famer is great," Scott said. The last time the 7-0, 250-pound Zeller faced Hibbert, he fouled out in 17 minutes on Dec. 12. "Zeller can play," Vogel said. "He's a heck of a rookie. He can shoot the ball from the perimeter. He's a solid defender. It's not like they don't have answers." ... Cavs power forward Jon Leuer has been recalled from the Canton Charge and will be available against the Pacers. He averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in six games in the Development League. "It was fun to get minutes and get into a rhythm," Leuer said. "It was (a good experience). Going down there and getting those reps and seeing the ball go in, that's how you build confidence. Whenever my name is called, I'll be ready." ... If there's one thing Scott doesn't like, it's walking the ball up the floor. "I don't like slow-down basketball," he said. "I've always been an up-tempo coach. Ball movement and body movement is so important in what we're trying to do." ... Valuable Pacers reserve Gerald Green sprained his left ankle in the second half.

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