NBA: Cavaliers out to get back on track vs. Pacers


The Cleveland Cavaliers are out to apply the brakes on their modest two-game skid Thursday when they visit the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.

Darius Garland’s sizzling 46-point performance ultimately went for naught in the Cavaliers’ 125-117 home setback to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. Garland recorded his fourth career 40-point game and third this season after making 14 of 20 shots from the floor.

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“That’s Darius Garland,” Donovan Mitchell said of his backcourt mate, per Cleveland.com. “I mean, that’s the Darius we all know. He’s shown on multiple nights he’s capable of having nights like this. … A lot of respect for Darius and that’s the player he is. That’s the player who is one of the leaders of this team.”

Mitchell also is a team leader, however he has struggled to find his shot over the last two games. He is mired in a 9-of-32 stretch (28.2 percent) from the field after making at least eight shots in each of his previous nine games.

“Credit to (the Nets). They pretty much, every time I gave the ball up, kind of face guarded me,” Mitchell said. “That’s kind of been the case the past two games. Now, granted, I haven’t played to my capabilities and that’s on me. I let the team down in that way. But, for me, I haven’t seen that all season, so being able to adjust, watch the film and get better.”

Mitchell certainly was better in his last encounter with the Pacers, pouring in 41 points in the Cavaliers’ 118-112 victory on Dec. 16. He averages a team-best 28.5 points per game.

Indiana enters Thursday’s clash having won three of its last four games. The Pacers posted a 129-114 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday in the opener of their four-game homestand.

Buddy Hield drained six 3-pointers to highlight his 28-point performance. He has made at least four 3-pointers in five of his last six games, shooting a robust 63.6 percent from distance in that span (28 of 44).

“He just works really hard. That’s just who he is,” the Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton said of Hield. “He’s got a beautiful shot (and) he plays a beautiful brand of basketball. He makes open ones, he makes tough ones when we need him to. He ain’t new to this. He’s one of the best shooters in the league.

“When he’s done, he’ll be one of the best shooters that’s ever played this game. That’s just what he does.”

Haliburton scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter on Tuesday.

“He really craves the responsibility, being the franchise point guard,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said of Haliburton, who boasts team-leading averages in points (20.5), assists (10.2) and steals (1.7).

“What he’s learning is that sometimes it means we need points, other times it means we need to get other guys involved. But always, he’s aware of both of those things.”

Haliburton collected 17 points and 14 assists in the previous meeting with the Cavaliers. Rookie Bennedict Mathurin had a team-high 22 points in that contest, while Hield chipped in 14.

–Field Level Media

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