Red-hot Cavs invade Indiana

( - The Cleveland Cavaliers are the hottest team in the NBA and they'll try to keep the momentum going Friday night when they travel to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to face the Indiana Pacers.

The Cavs have won 12 straight and are the new leaders in the Central Division, owning a half-game lead over the Chicago Bulls. Cleveland hasn't lost since Jan. 13 at Phoenix and has a four-game winning streak as the visitor.

With a victory on Friday, the Cavaliers will match the franchise's longest winning streak of 13 games, which the 2009-10 team set right around this time five years ago.

The run reached 12 games on Thursday night in a 105-94 home triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers, which wasn't really as close as the final score indicated.

Kevin Love had 24 points and nine rebounds and LeBron James added 23 points and nine assists to lead the Cavs. Kyrie Irving had 16 points, five boards and five steals for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith hit four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points and Timofey Mozgov supplied 12 points and nine boards for the Cavs, who led by as many as 32.

"It's important that you play physical," Cleveland coach David Blatt said. "I thought we were consistent in that tonight and I thought that really helped us."

Smith's 3-pointer late in the first half staked the Cavs to a 65-42 spread heading into the break. Cleveland took a healthy 94-63 cushion into the fourth, where they cruised to the easy triumph.

The Pacers have won two of their last three and will close a five-game homestand on Friday.

On Wednesday, the Pacers earned a 114-109 home win over another Central Division rival, the Detroit Pistons.

George Hill had a game-high 20 points in his first start in over a month to lead Indiana. Hill started for the first time in six games since returning from an injury that kept him sidelined for most of January. He was 8-of-12 from the field and had six assists in the win.

"I think George makes a difference for us," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "He creates for others and keeps us organized. He still has a long way to go with conditioning. We're managing that."

Roy Hibbert added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who won for just the third time in their last 12 games. Indiana got 15 points from C.J. Miles and 14 each from David West and C.J. Watson.

The Pacers shot nearly 78 percent in the third to take an 81-76 lead into the fourth. Hill, Watson and Damjan Rudez each made a 3 during a 9-0 Indiana run early in the fourth quarter and the Pacers never trailed afterward.

The biggest news on the Pacers' front was the glimmer of hope that All-Star swingman Paul George could return this season. After breaking his leg in a gruesome injury practicing with Team USA this summer, George said the possibility exists he could return this season.

"I don't want to come back too soon and re-injure it or cause any other problems, so I want it to be fully right," said George. "And I know this organization wants it to be right."

The Cavs beat the Pacers by 12 in Cleveland on Nov. 29 and have won two straight. Indiana had taken the previous nine meetings and owns an eight-game home series winning streak.