INDIANAPOLIS — The newest member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Caris LeVert, got his first start in wine and gold Friday as Darius Garland sat out with lower back soreness in the road matchup against the Indiana Pacers.
LeVert got the start at point guard with Garland out, joining Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen in the starting lineup.
In his first start as a Cav, LeVert put up 22 points and five assists, but also contributed on defense with two rebounds, a block and three steals.
"That's a thing about Caris—Caris is a complete player, he's not just an offensive player," head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the win.
The Cavs showed off their now-signature come-from-behind efforts Friday, battling back from a 21-point deficit in the second quarter. It was the second time in less than a week the Cavs had battled back from a 20+ point deficit against the Pacers, having done the same on Sunday inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Friday's efforts lead to a fourth quarter turnaround that ended in a seven-point lead to win 120-113 and marked their largest comeback of the season.
"It's the belief in one another," Bickerstaff said. "Our guys believe in our defense, believe in each other."
Jarrett Allen double-double streak
On Friday, Allen notched his fourth straight double-double, keeping the streak alive that has impacted the Cavs on both sides of the court.
Allen put up 22 points and 14 rebounds with a block and a steal to boot.
While he wasn't selected to the All-Star Game, Allen continues proving he was snubbed and playing with a chip on his shoulder.
"The message throughout the whole game was keep chipping away, and that's a good example of what we did," Allen said. "We knew not to get flustered, we take pride in our defense."
Kevin Love from three
Love has been raining threes this season, and continued that on Friday, putting up 14 points and four rebounds while making three of his five threes.
Friday marked a major milestone for Love, who notched his 1,400th career three point shot against the Pacers. But that wasn't the only milestone Love hit.
Love also became the 10th Cavalier to record 7,000 points with the team, joining LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Brad Daugherty, Austin Carr, Mark Price, Bingo Smith, Hot Rod Williams, Kyrie Irving and Larry Nance.
Rajon Rondo veteran presence
Earlier in the week, Allen talked about Rondo and the way he's been working with the young guys on the team, teaching them moves and techniques to better their game. On Friday, Rondo showed his well-roundedness off, putting up 17 points, six assists, seven rebounds and three steals while shooting 85.7% from the field on seven shots and making two of his three three-point attempts.
"There's no panic in him and that's the thing," Bickerstaff said. "I have the ultimate amount of confidence in him."
LeVert, who said that he's been watching Rondo since he was in 8th grade, credited the comeback win heavily on the impact of Rondo.
"He's been around the game for awhile, he's been around the league for awhile, he's seen it all," LeVert said. "Down the stretch he kept us calm, put the ball where it needed to be and orchestrated things offensively and defensively."
Rondo, who said he considered retirement before joining the Cavs and being "refreshed" by the young guys on the roster, wouldn't take the credit and praised his teammates for adjusting in huddles and staying focused the entire game.
Also helping lead the Cavs to the win Friday was Cedi Osman who put up 14 points, Dean Wade who put up 13 points, Evan Mobley who put up eight points, three blocks and two steals and Isaac Okoro who put up 10 points and two blocks.
The Cavs have two more games on the schedule before All-Star break, with the first on Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers on the road. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.
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