Cavs handle Pacers, roll into weekend of stars

LeBron James and the Cavaliers take on Paul George and the Pacers in the first round.

CLEVELAND — Not that is how you enter an All-Star break.

Well, except for the injuries.

But let’s focus on the good stuff for now: Cavaliers 113, Indiana Pacers 104, on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavs (39-16) have won seven of eight in February. They are moving the ball, buryingtheir shots and finding gems such as Kyle Korver and Derrick Williams in the process.

It’s true the Cavs received a dose of bad news earlier this season, when it was learned shooting guard J.R. Smith would be lost for a good chunk with an injured thumb.

Then things got worse earlier this week, when power forward Kevin Love underwent knee surgery.

So where does that leave the defending champions heading into All-Star Weekend in New Orleans?

It leaves them in a darn good spot, that’s where.

They still have LeBron James (31 points). They still have Kyrie Irving (26). And they now have the likes of Korver (22) or Tristan Thompson (12 points, 11 boards) or Channing Frye or others coming to life and filling in for the injured.

“Everyone is in a comfortable place,” Irving said. “Our identity was kind of all over the place (in January). Guys were going down and in and out of the lineup. It was a learning experience. But in February, we’re just a great team again by all accounts.”

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue seemed to agree.

“I’m happy where we’re at, winning seven of eight in February,” he said. “We’re playing good basketball. Guys are stepping up and playing well after losing Kevin and J.R.”

Lue added, “Anytime you lose two starters and one All-Star, it’s going to be tough. But we have a no-excuse mentality. We have to continue to keep doing it until J.R. and Kevin get back.”

Glenn Robinson III scored 19 points to lead the Pacers and help keep things interesting. But Pacers star Paul George was limited to 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting.

“I had looks I’ve had all season,” George said. “It was just one of those games where I couldn’t buy a basket at all. … I was hyped. I was was energized. I felt great and shot the ball well in warmups. But this was just one of those nights for me.”

The Cavs broke away from a tight game with some high-energy plays (and hot shooting) from Korver, James and Irving in the fourth quarter.

James and Irving will start for the Eastern Conference in Sunday’s All-Star Game. Everyone else is off until the Cavs host the New York Knicks on Thursday, Feb. 23.

The Pacers (29-27) have lost five straight.

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