Hibbert scores 18, Pacers top Cavs 99-89
Roy Hibbert scored 18 points and Lance Stephenson added a season-high 16 to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 99-89 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost their sixth straight game Friday night.
Hibbert didn't have to deal with injured Cavs center Anderson Varejao, the NBA's leading rebounder. Varejao missed his second game in a row with a bruised right knee.
David West added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Gerald Green had 14 points - with a ferocious dunk - as the Pacers won for the fifth time in six games.
Kyrie Irving scored 17 points on just 5-of-16 shooting for the Cavs, who are 1-11 in their last 12 games. Tristan Thompson had 12 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland, 3-21 in its past 24.
With Varejao on the bench in street clothes, the Pacers enjoyed a size advantage inside and they outrebounded the Cavaliers 44-35. Hibbert spent the last 5 minutes on the bench after picking up his fifth foul, but by then Indiana led by double digits and rolled to a relatively easy win.
Stephenson went 7 of 8 from the floor and added seven assists.
With the Pacers leading by nine early in the fourth quarter, Green, the league's slam dunk champion in 2007, delivered a jam certain to make highlight reels for the next few days. Driving the left side, he soared in the lane and hammered the ball in over Cleveland's Samardo Samuels, who could do nothing to stop it.
Green stared at Samuels and was given a technical foul, but the damage was done.
Indiana's Paul George, scoreless at halftime, had eight points and four steals in the third quarter, when the Pacers outscored the Cavaliers 33-22 to take a 10-point lead into the fourth.
During an 18-5 run by the Pacers, George stole a lazy pass by rookie Tyler Zeller, drove for a layup and was fouled. He missed his free throw, but George poked the ball away from an unsuspecting Zeller and threw down a two-handed dunk to give the Pacers a 69-55 lead.
Cavs coach Byron Scott decided to rest Varejao for the second straight game rather than risk losing him for several more.
The 6-foot-11 Brazilian will also probably sit out Saturday's game in Milwaukee, giving him additional time to heal before the Cavs play again on Dec. 26. Varejao, who is averaging 14.4 rebounds and playing at an All-Star level, bruised his knee on Tuesday night against Toronto.
Irving had a puzzling first half and a disappointing game.
He scored just five points on 1-of-4 shooting and had four turnovers by halftime. On one of them, he drove the lane and badly overthrew the 7-foot Zeller but then showed some outward disappointment toward his teammate, who would have needed a step ladder to catch Irving's pass.
Other than an eight-point flurry in the third quarter, Irving never found his groove on offense and settled for jump shots instead of driving to the basket.
Sparked by a 3-pointer from Green, the Pacers used a 12-2 run in the second quarter to open a 41-36 lead.
Notes: Not long after his big dunk, Green left with a sprained left ankle. ... Indiana has won four in a row over Cleveland. ... Scott is looking forward to having three practices next week. Because of Cleveland's brutal schedule and injuries, the Cavs have been reduced to one practice the past three weeks. ... Zeller made his second start for Varejao and finished with 12 points. He scored 20 on Wednesday at Boston in his first career start. ... Indiana's Tyler and Ben Hansbrough are the fourth pair of brothers in NBA history to play on the same team, joining Dick and Tom Van Arsdale, Dominque and Gerald Wilkins and Mark and Brent Price.
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