INDIANAPOLIS -- It took nearly a full half for the Indiana Pacers to play the way they expected to while facing one of the worst teams in the NBA.
When they found their form, the Pacers were off and running.
Indiana used an 18-0 run that stretched from the end of the second quarter into the third quarter to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-81 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
The Pacers limited the Cavaliers to 23 second-half points.
"Our guys started getting a little frustrated (in the first half)," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We felt like we were better than that. The answer to situations like that is to not get tighter, more frustrated. The answer is to stay calm and make mental adjustments and focus on each possession."
Paul George led the Pacers (11-11) with 27 points.
Cleveland guard C.J. Miles followed up his strong game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday by scoring 28 points against Indiana.
Although the Cavaliers were the team that had to travel after playing the previous night, it was hard to tell at the start.
Miles, who entered the game averaging 8.4 points on the season, scored 16 of his team's first 18 points, taking advantage of poor defending by the Pacers. His early surge helped Cleveland (5-18) take a 29-25 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The rest of the Cavaliers stepped up their game in the second quarter.
They eventually got the lead up to 16 points before the Pacers got going.
"They started out hot," George said. "Anytime you start off hot shooting, your confidence will continue to grow. That becomes contagious throughout the team."
The Pacers closed the first half on a 9-0 run to trim their deficit to 58-52.
"We just had the mind frame that we had to take bits and pieces here and there," said Pacers forward David West, who finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. "We did a good job closing the first half, getting the game within striking range going into the third quarter. And we carried things over into the second half."
The Pacers scored the first nine points of the third quarter to make it an 18-0 run and to take a 61-58 lead.
"I don't think it was so much a tale of halves," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "I think from about the four- or three-minute mark of the second quarter everything changed from that point on."
The Pacers held the Cavaliers to 19.5 percent shooting in the second half. Miles only scored five points after halftime.
"We came in (at halftime) and talked it out, and when we came out in the third quarter, we started applying pressure to the wings, just making it much more difficult," George said.
The Pacers played most of the second half without starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson, who went down with a sprained right ankle early in the third quarter on a drive and kick to George for a 3-pointer. Vogel said he doubts Stephenson would be able to play Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The game got testy in the third quarter when Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson was given a flagrant foul penalty-one for delivering an elbow to the side of Ben Hansbrough's head.
Hansbrough went to the ground, and his older brother, Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough, quickly came to his defense and confronted Thompson.
NOTES: The Cavaliers host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. ... Cavs forward Omri Casspi missed the game with a stomach bug. ... Cavaliers rookie center and Indiana native Tyler Zeller only had to come up with three tickets for family members for his first NBA game in his home state. Zeller, who is averaging almost 23 minutes a game, is from Washington, Ind. He scored eight points in 17 minutes. ... Pacers coach Frank Vogel said despite their poor start, he believes point guard point guard Kyrie Irving and center Anderson Varjeo deserve to be All Stars with the way they're playing for the Cavaliers this season. ... Ben Hansbrough played his first game as George Hill's backup at point guard, contributing six points, one assist and two steals. D.J. Augustin, who used to be Hill's backup, has been demoted to third string because of his poor play this season.