Sabonis, 3-point shooting carry Pacers past Cavs, 119-99

Pacers Cavaliers Basketball
Posted at 8:08 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 20:08:24-05

INDIANAPOLIS — All-Star center Domantas Sabonis is piling up some big numbers. Reserve forward Doug McDermott is getting on the act, too.

While Sabonis led the Pacers with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and McDermott provided a spark with 18 points and nine rebounds off the bench in a 119-99 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.

It’s the fourth time in five games that McDermott has scored in double digits. He hit three 3-pointers as the Pacers were 16 of 35 from long range. Because opponents are wary of his 3-point shooting and have adjusted defending him accordingly, that’s provided more opportunities to drive to the rim.

“Coming into the year, I wanted to be as aggressive as possible,” McDermott said. “I’m going to keep doing my thing and hopefully we can keep this thing rolling.”

All-Star guard Victor Oladipo hit four 3-pointers.

“Even though 2020 has been tough, find your triumph,” Oladipo said. “At the end of the day, we’re all blessed to see 2021.”

Sabonis, the 6-foot-11 center who usually does most of his work inside, made both of his 3-point tries and shot 10 of 14 overall. The NBA’s first Eastern Conference Player of the Week also had 11 rebounds.

Two days after blowing a 17-point, third-quarter lead in a home loss to Boston, the Pacers pulled away again after halftime to take a 20-point advantage into the fourth quarter. Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren pointed to defense.

“They came out of the locker room ready to defend,” Bjorkgren said about the 31-17 third quarter.

Indiana, playing seven of its first nine at home, improved to 4-1.

Shooting guard Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 28 points, and point guard Darius Garland added 21. Cleveland was 12 of 23 on 3-pointers in the first of six straight road games. The Cavs are 3-2.

Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff had an extended postgame meeting to express his displeasure in how tentative his team played at times.

“Things are easy when they’re good,” Bickerstaff said. “Things become more difficult when it’s hard. That was the message to our guys. We have to do things decisively. You just can’t be hesitant.”


Cavaliers: Sexton has scored at least 20 points in 10 consecutive games, dating to last season.

Pacers: T.J. Warren missed his first start due to a sore left foot. “They’re figuring it out,” Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “T.J. wants to play so bad. He wants to be out there. That’s the kind of guy he is. That’s why I love him. ... They’re going to keep monitoring it.” ... Donnie Walsh, a longtime general manager who has been a consultant for the past decade, retired Wednesday at age 80.


Cavaliers: At Atlanta on Saturday night.

Pacers: Host New York on Saturday night.