Pacers pummel Cavaliers to stretch East edge

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INDIANAPOLIS: Paul George scored 21 points and Roy Hibbert added 19 to power Indiana over Cleveland 91-76 on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), improving the Pacers’ NBA Eastern Conference-leading record to 25-5.

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The Pacers, who have won 15 of 16 home games so far this season, also had 13 points from George Hill and 12 off the bench from Danny Granger in stretching their overall winning streak to five games.

George grabbed eight rebounds and Luis Scola came off the bench to make nine rebounds for Indiana, who moved 1.5 games ahead of Miami (24-7) in the fight for the best record in the East, where only three clubs have winning records.

Cleveland, which fell to 10-21, lost for the 14th time in 16 road games this season and ended 2013 on a six-game losing streak.

The Cavaliers were led by 14 points and 11 rebounds from center Anderson Varejao, 13 rebounds from Tristan Thompson and 10 points from Kyrie Irving, but shot a woeful 29-of-80 (36.3 percent) from the field.

“Today’s game was a perfect example of being able to win a basketball game when you’re shot isn’t falling,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We buckled down on defense. It was a really special defensive performance.”

Irving was helped off the court late in the third quarter after suffering what appeared to be a left knee injury, but returned to begin the fourth quarter.

“I thought the worst happened,” Irving said. “I continued to play but I felt something pop in my knee and I was falling down around all over the place.

“I’m going to have an MRI tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes. But it was a painful experience. When I went back out it still didn’t feel right.”

AFP

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