CLEVELAND (AP) - One of Indiana's players wrestled Cleveland's furry mascot before the game. The Pacers then had to fight off the spunky Cavaliers.
Danny Granger made a 3-pointer in overtime and scored 23 points, and George Hill made a dagger 3-pointer in the extra session, lifting Indiana to a 104-98 victory on Wednesday night and allowing the Pacers to hold onto the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference for one more day.
David West added 19 points, Hill had 17 and Roy Hibbert finished with 11 rebounds, five assists and four blocks for Indiana, 6-1 in its last seven. The Pacers outscored the Cavs 10-4 in OT and stayed just ahead of Boston, Atlanta and Orlando in the standings.
This was a dogfight - playfully and literally.
During pregame introductions, West got into a mock fight with Moondog, the Cavs' floppy-eared mascot, who often interacts and teases opposing players. West accidentally struck the character in the mask, sending him to the hospital with an eye injury.
``I feel terrible about that, I really do,' said West, who was visibly upset. ``We were just having fun. We were just messing around. I really hope he's OK. Make sure he knows I'm sorry.'
A Cavs spokesman said the mascot was checked out and released.
Hibbert thought Moondog was joking when he went down holding the head of his costume.
``For real?' Hibbert said. ``We thought he (Moondog) was just playing when it happened. Oh man, that's crazy. I can't believe it happened. I've never heard anything like that in the NBA.'
Antawn Jamison scored 21 and Lester Hudson 19 for the Cavs, who dropped to a league-worst 0-5 in overtime games. The Cavs, who were just 2 of 9 in the extra five minutes, were officially eliminated from the playoffs.
``We fought hard,' Hudson said. ``We played very hard, but we just came up a little short.'
The Pacers should have put the Cavs away in regulation but Hill, starting in place of the injured Darren Collison, missed three free throws in the last 21 seconds.
West opened overtime with a bucket for the Pacers, who went without a field goal for a 6:41 stretch of the fourth that allowed the Cavs to overcome a 10-point deficit and open a seven-point lead.
Granger then nailed a 3-pointer, and after Hudson scored for Cleveland, Indiana's leading scorer made an 18-foot jumper to put the Pacers ahead 101-96. After Jamison misfired, Hill put the Cavs away with his 3, making it 104-96 with 53 seconds left.
It was some vindication for Hill, whose three missed free throws gave the Cavs late life and they tied it when Hudson, the D-League castoff who came in averaging 24.7 points in his past three games, dropped a sweet floater in the lane over West with 1.2 seconds to go.
The Pacers had one last chance in regulation, and Hibbert nearly made an impossible shot, arching an attempt from behind the backboard that bounced off the front of the rim.
Indiana finally took care of business in overtime.
``We knew we were in a tough fight tonight,' West said. ``We're playing for home-court advantage, so there is no room for any slippage on our part.'
Indiana improved to 17-14 on the road, the club's first winning record outside Indiana in eight years.
Cleveland played its fifth straight game without rookie Kyrie Irving, who has a sprained right shoulder.
The Cavs were down 78-68 after Dahntay Jones dropped a 3-pointer for Indiana.
But Hudson heated up and the Cavs responded with an 18-1 run, taking an 86-79 lead on Omri Casspi's 3-pointer from the left wing. Hudson scored six points during the improbable run, which the Pacers helped by making four turnovers and missing four shots.
Indiana ended up going nearly seven minutes between field goals, with Hill's 3-pointer with 4:19 pulling the Pacers within 88-85.
Hill then converted on two drives and after Hibbert dunked, the Pacers appeared on their way to a win, leading 93-89 with 30 seconds left.
Hill, though, failed to put the game away at the line and the Pacers had to work an extra five minutes to hold onto their playoff seed.
``George Hill made some huge plays,' said coach Frank Vogel. ``He's down on himself right now for missing those three free throws, but I told him he was the reason why we got the lead back. He was able to turn the corner and make some plays for us.'
Notes: Hill was getting treatment after the game and not available. ... Collison was inactive, but sat on the bench in warmups because he forgot to bring a sport coat on the overnight trip. The league requires any players not dressing to wear a suit jacket. ... Irving worked out with a trainer on the floor before the game, and coach Byron Scott ruled his young star out through Friday's game at Indiana. There's still a possibility the Cavs will shut down Irving, a virtual lock to be named the NBA's Rookie of the Year, the remainder of the season. ... Cavs C Anderson Varejao also remains sidelined after breaking his wrist on Feb. 10. There's also no clarity on when - or if - he'll be back. ... Cavs backup C Semih Erden left on crutches after rolling his ankle in the first half. X-rays were negative.
The Associated Press News Service
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