INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Danny Granger broke out of his slump and helped extend Cleveland's slide.
The Indiana forward had 30 points and a season-high 12 rebounds to help the Pacers beat the Cavaliers 108-99 on Friday night, pushing Cleveland's losing streak to 10 games.
Granger had shot a combined 8 for 27 in losses to Atlanta and the Los Angeles Lakers, and he didn't play in the loss to Chicago in between because of a sprained ankle. He bounced back to make 12 of 22 shots against the Cavaliers, including four of seven 3-pointers, to help the Pacers snap a three-game skid.
``I went through a stretch when I wasn't being very aggressive or assertive offensively,' Granger said. ``I made a point to just go out and try to be an assassin. That philosophy works better for me. Other games I've been coasting. I have to be aggressive.'
It was Granger's fifth game with 30 or more points this season, and his first since he scored a season-high 37 against Sacramento on Nov. 30.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers remained in a rut. Humiliating home losses of 19 points to Boston and 28 points to Miami in LeBron James' return to Cleveland started the downward spiral.
``We just have to get a win,' forward Antawn Jamison said. ``We're doing a good job of 36-40 minutes of pretty good basketball. There are no consolation prizes in the NBA.'
Cleveland's average margin of defeat during the streak is 17.5 points, but the past two losses, including a six-point defeat at Miami on Wednesday, have been by single digits. At this point, the final score doesn't seem to be coach Byron Scott's primary concern.
``The silver lining is us playing two straight games very hard,' he said. ``It's something to build on and stay together as a basketball team.'
Indiana got back on track, showing signs of a turnaround this season after a four-year absence from the playoffs. Roy Hibbert, Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush each scored 15 points for the Pacers.
``I thought we played better for 48 minutes,' Dunleavy said. ``That's the only way we can win basketball games. We came out focused and willing to help each other out, and we played well enough tonight to get the win.'
Mo Williams had 22 points and 11 assists for the Cavaliers. Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison each scored 17 points and Anderson Varejao added 15 for the Cavaliers.
The chippy game included five technical fouls and an ejection in the fourth quarter. There were seven total technicals in the game.
Indiana outrebounded the Cavaliers 49-38 and held them to 41.5 percent shooting.
Cleveland led 48-47 until Dunleavy made a 3-pointer with 32.9 seconds left in the first half. James Posey hit a 3 just 1.2 seconds before halftime to push Indiana's lead to 53-48 at the break. The Pacers shot 57 percent in the second quarter.
A powerful, one-handed jam by Josh McRoberts gave Indiana a 58-52 lead. A 3-pointer by Granger pushed it to 67-56, and the Pacers led 84-74 at the end of the third quarter.
The Pacers seized momentum early in the fourth. T.J. Ford faked a pass while in the air, then kept the ball and converted a layup. On Indiana's next possession, Ford found an open Rush, who drained a 3-pointer to give Indiana a 94-79 lead that prompted Cleveland to call timeout.
The Pacers hope to take another step toward legitimizing their turnaround when they play at Boston on Sunday. Indiana already has road wins against Miami and the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Pacers thought they needed to beat Cleveland to hit the road in the proper frame of mind.
``You have to beat the teams you're supposed to beat,' Granger said. ``It wasn't necessarily pretty, but a win is a win, and it gives us momentum going to Boston.'
NOTES: The two games between the LeBron James-led Cavaliers and Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse last season sold out with 18,165 fans. Without James, attendance at this year's first game in Indianapolis on Nov. 23 was 12,629. Attendance on Friday was 12,021. ... Pacers F Tyler Hansbrough did not play. Coach Jim O'Brien has not played the team's 2009 first-round pick in four of the past six games. ... Indiana reserve forward Solomon Jones was ejected in the fourth quarter while sitting on the bench.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved