Streaking Pacers welcome slumping Cavs
Life without Victor Oladipo might not be so bad for the Indiana Pacers after all.
Since their All-Star's season ended with a Jan. 23 knee injury, the Pacers seemingly have righted the ship and have won four in a row -- after losing the first four games without Oladipo.
They can make it five straight on Saturday when they play host to Cleveland in Indianapolis. The Cavaliers have dropped three consecutive games, including a 119-106 decision to the Wizards in Washington on Friday.
And even though their record fell to 11-44, five-time All-Star Kevin Love's return after missing more than three months with a toe injury was cause to celebrate.
He played only six minutes and scored four points.
"It was fun to be out there," Love said postgame, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "This is my 11th year and I've seen a lot, done a lot, but coming back off that was a weird feeling.
"Felt good to be back out there. I have enough suits to get me through three months, but I'm tired of wearing a suit every game and just sitting out there so I was happy to wear some different street clothes in here and throw the jersey on, and I know it was only 6 1/2 minutes, but it felt good."
Indiana looked good earlier this week with a 42-point win against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers. Then on Thursday, the Pacers raced past the visiting Clippers, 116-92.
Bojan Bogdanovic led all scorers Thursday with 29 points, going 12-for-19 from the field and 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
"I've never been in this situation, to be a starter and one of the (primary scoring threats) on the team," Bogdanovic said. "That's given me a lot of confidence to shoot the ball the way I'm shooting right now."
In Oladipo's absence, Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young have picked up the offense. Against the Clippers, Turner had 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range. He also recorded four steals and six blocks.
Young finished with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals in just 23 minutes.
"We've got a good thing going on the offensive end," Pacers point guard Darren Collison said. "We're making shots. (It's) not necessarily something you want to rely on, but when you're making shots, you want to keep that momentum going.
"But I think most importantly, our defense has been contagious."
Indiana holds a 2-1 edge on Cleveland in head-to-head meetings this season, but the Cavaliers did record a 92-91 road win on Dec. 18.
And now that the smoke has cleared after the trade deadline, Cleveland's roster looks nothing like it did in those three games. Since dealing Kyle Korver in November, Cleveland has made four trades and added two first-round picks and six second-rounders.
Trades are part of the business and players accept that side of the game, Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. said.
"At the end of the day, we're all pawns in the game," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "When somebody gets moved, it's more of like, 'I'll see you later.' ... Nobody gets mad at a trade or something like that. It's just the nature of the beast."
Cleveland's starting lineup against Washington consisted of Love, Nance, Collin Sexton, Deng Adel and David Nwaba. Sexton, a rookie, scored 27 for the second game in a row, nearly doubling his 13.6-point average before those two contests.
Nance worked hard, producing 10 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and three steals.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 8, 2019