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Published September 19, 2015
So much for getting Kevin Love involved in the Cavaliers' offense.
The three-time All-Star took care of that with a season-high 28 points in Saturday night's 109-97 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Love, who came into the game averaging 16.5 points, scored 16 in the first quarter. He made his first five shots, including two 3-pointers. Love, who also had 10 rebounds, was 9 for 13 from the field.
"I felt good," Love said. "I wouldn't say it was a breakout game, but I was efficient, especially in the first quarter. It was a breakout first quarter."
Kyrie Irving scored 24 points and LeBron James added 19 as Cleveland won its third straight game after losing four in a row and moved its record to 8-7. The Cavaliers have won the three games by an average of 23.3 points.
Irving tied a career high with 10 rebounds and had five assists.
Cleveland coach David Blatt was asked before the game about Love's early-season production. Blatt said he wasn't concerned about his scoring.
"I just think Kevin is such a good basketball player that when he's in the flow, as he was today, you're going to see games like that," Blatt said.
James was impressed with Love's play.
"It was great," James said. "He made the game a lot easier for us tonight."
"It felt good for me," Love said. "They were finding me. It was a good game for us on both ends."
The Cavaliers built a 19-point lead in the first quarter, but the Pacers chipped away and trailed 52-49 at halftime. Cleveland regained control in the third, as James, who had eight points at the half, scored 11 in the quarter. The lead reached 20 points in the fourth quarter.
David West, who made his season debut Friday, led Indiana with 14 points.
"You can't really look at the box score when the fourth quarter was really garbage time," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "I thought we had decent energy, but they obviously exceeded it."
James appeared to injure his left wrist after being knocked to the floor while scoring in the lane in the third quarter but remained in the game.
James' trickery brought the crowd to its feet in the opening period. After taking a pass from Shawn Marion, he motioned the veteran to run the baseline for a pass. Instead, he fired a no-look pass under the basket to Irving, who scored on a layup.
James' fake was so good, it almost fooled Marion.
"He almost cut in front of Kyrie," James said. "I said, 'I need to throw the ball right now.' Kyrie was able to finish it."
James stole the ball on Indiana's next possession and drove in for a dunk that to put Cleveland ahead 22-6, forcing Vogel to use his second timeout in the first 6:26.
Love finished the half with 22 points, one shy of his season high. He hit a jumper and two free throws while Irving knocked down a 3-pointer as Cleveland built the lead to 67-54.
Love scored 42 points with 16 rebounds in his last game against the Pacers while playing for Minnesota last season.
"They were great, they had guys constantly leaking down the floor for easy baskets," West said. "They just spread you out and have a bunch of ways to attack you. They had us on our heels all night."
Both teams played without their starting center. Indiana's Roy Hibbert missed his fourth game in a row with a sprained left ankle while Anderson Varejao sat out with a rib contusion. Tristan Thompson replaced Varejao, making his first start of the season. He scored 13 points and had 11 rebounds in 38 minutes.
Pacers: Hibbert did some light pregame work Saturday, but told coach Frank Vogel that his ankle was "still tender." Vogel said the team will not rush Hibbert back, but hoped he would return Tuesday against Phoenix. ... Miles, who spent the last two seasons with Cleveland, scored six points. .... Indiana began a four-game trip Saturday. Its next home contest is Dec. 8 against Atlanta.
Cavaliers: Varejao is averaging 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds, and is third in the NBA with a .611 field goal percentage. He participated in the morning shootaround, but still felt discomfort and was held out as a precaution, according to Blatt. ... Browns owner Jimmy Haslam attended the game.... Cleveland completes a five-game homestand Tuesday.
Pacers: At Phoenix on Tuesday.
Cavaliers: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday.
The Cavaliers are 8-1 when scoring at least 100 points, but 0-6 when they fail to reach the century mark. "They're really good in the open floor and they spread things out so well," Pacers guard C.J. Miles said. "With LeBron and Kyrie and Love, they create matchups that are tough to deal with."