On the strength of 19 points from Dion Waiters, the Cleveland Cavaliers earned a 90-76 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers entered Sunday's game against the Indiana Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena with a plan to take Indiana's physical style of play and give it right back to the best team in the Eastern Conference.
And the plan worked to perfection, as the Cavaliers (30-45) held the Pacers (52-22) to 37.2 percent shooting in their 90-76 victory.
"One of the things we talked about doing was trying not to match their physicality and their energy, but exceed it," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "If we matched it, we get beaten. I thought our guys tried, in that area, to do very well.
"They took it to heart and it showed in our play. For these guys to score 76 points on 37 percent shooting, I thought our guys did a nice job scrambling for one another and trying to protect one another when a teammate got beat."
The Cavaliers have now won four of their last five games, including back-to-back contests at home. The Pacers have now lost five of their last seven games and five straight on the road heading into Monday's home game against the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA's best team.
"It was a good win by our guys," Brown said. "One of the things we've said with (Indiana) is this team is a very physical team. They're a veteran team. They're well coached. Frank Vogel has done a great job with the group. They've been in big games on the road or at home and they've had a lot of success."
The Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead, 25-20, after shooting 55 percent from the floor in the first quarter, but the Pacers responded by starting the second period on a 14-10 run to pull within one point, 35-34, with 5:33 to play before the break.
But that is when the Cavaliers pushed the lead back to 11, as forward Luol Deng hit a jump shot and converted a three-point. Then, rookie guard Matthew Dellavedova buried a 24-foot three-point shot, and one possession later, forward Anderson Varejao canned a 12-foot jumper.
"It's something we've continued to preach, not just our pace in the full court, but our pace in the half court," Brown said. "This is a very good team, a very long team and you could feel, you could see that even if we lost the game, it would've been close. Offensively, you could see we've gotten better since the last time we played them, and that's what you continue to look for."
For the Cavaliers, withstanding the second-quarter run was not the only time they had to keep the Pacers at bay.
Indiana twice trimmed its deficit to six points in third quarter, but the Cavaliers were able to respond with runs of their own. After center Spencer Hawes' three-pointer with 5:03 to play in the third quarter, the Cavaliers led by 10 or more points for the remainder of the game.
"There was a period in the third quarter where they went on a little run," Brown said. "We talked about it in the huddle, and our guys went out, got a few consecutive stops and pushed the lead again. In the fourth quarter, we were getting stops but we were struggling to score. Dion (Waiters) hit some big baskets for us. I think he went on a 7-0 or 9-0 run himself.
"Different guys stepped up at different times. Everybody that played, played well for us."