Pacers: Jamaal Tinsley, Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Jermaine O'Neal, Jeff Foster Cavs: Eric Snow, Shannon Brown, Sasha Pavlovic, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials: Tom Washington, Leon Wood, Gary Zielinksi
--Yes LeBron James is playing, no LeBron James is not starting. No, there's no good reason for that. I've covered like 600 games LeBron has played in, heck maybe more, and he's started them all. --Boobie Gibson is swollen and out after having a tooth pulled. --Snow is starting because they need someone to defend Tinsley. That I understand. --Andy Varejao said he expects to be booed and then he blamed it on the newspapers. Look elsewhere, buddy, try the mirror. --Pacers like to shoot 3s, Cavs defensive rotations better be strong. But let's see how Varejao does guarding O'Neal, which I am sure will happen.
Halftime -- Cavs 65, Pacers 49 --The Cavs are feeling good and it is showing in their play. They are aggressively driving to the basket, stepping into their jumpers and being very active on the defensive end. They are getting a lot of frustration out in this one. --Wow, seeing the Cavs right now it is overwhelming to see the talent they have on the floor and off the bench. It's like emerging from the desert after what they've been putting out there. Plus Boobie Gibson isn't even active. Been a long time coming. --I was on WKNR about 10 minutes before tip and Kenny Roda's producer, Chris Fedor, said he thought not starting LeBron was so that they could bring him into the game with Varejao so there wouldn't be boos. That is why they did, although I don't know if that was the motive. Frankly, I don't think the Cavs would be in the mood to do Andy any favors right now but you can decide for yourself. --That glove on LeBron's hand is scaring small children here at the Q. Seriously, I have no idea what that thing is. --The Cavs are shooting 61 percent and they are 5-of-7 on 3-pointers. Larry Hughes has 17 points and has made a bunch of jumpers. We'll see if they (and Larry) can keep it together if the jumpers stop falling. --Sasha Pavlovic's minutes are in serious jeopardy with Hughes and LeBron coming back. Right now, he's playing like it with 12 points in the half. --The Pacers were 3-of-12 on 3-pointers in the first half. They play fast and shoot loose, 16 points is nothing for them to overcome if things turn around from outside. The Cavs cannot cruise and expect to win this game. That said, LeBron has just nine points and I feel like he could take over this game if he wants.
Postgame -- Cavs 118, Pacers 105
Stars Larry Hughes, 36 points LeBron James, 17 points Zydrunas Ilguaskas, 17 points Mike Dunleavy, 23 points
--After the game, LeBron said he asked Mike Brown to come off the bench. He said he wanted to come in with Andy so he wouldn't hear any boos. He said he wanted to "protect" his teammate. That is a nice story and explains why he didn't start. Although it was funny to watch Brown dance around the issue with the media. When Bill Livingston of the Plain Dealer asked whether LeBron would start Friday in Jersey, Mike paused and said: "I've got to watch the film." Priceless! --Anyway, it's not 100 percent true. LeBron did ask to come off the bench but there was no discussion about bringing him in with Andy. But LeBron did pick up that ball and run with it and give great quotes about it. I just wrote a story for ESPN.com about it and I'm sure the soundbyte will make the rounds. Don't say he needs media training. --Forget about the politics, that trio made a major impact on the game. In the first half with LeBron, Hughes and Varejao came in the Cavs went on a 22-5 run. In the second half they came in and went on a 15-0 run. --This was an energy victory, they Cavs shot 55 percent and lots of things went their way. They cannot win this way every night. But after seeing them average 82 points and shoot 37 percent with LeBron out, seeing them put up 118 points was a change of pace. It wasn't just LeBron either, it was like a team-wide exhale. --Hughes is playing happy at shooting guard, at the moment he's getting what he's always wanted. Obviously this was one of those once-in-a-season nights. He was making everything, including bank shots. By the way, going 13-of-17 from the field brought him to 39 percent for the season. So close to that magic 40 again. So he's not going to play this way every night, but if he can be a viable second offensive option to LeBron -- what the Cavs thought when they signed him in 2005 -- it will be difference-making. Need to see a lot more of it before this can be classified something besides a blip. Despite all that, seeing him mix up his drives with his jumpers is a welcome change. He is looking to go the basket more. --Interesting that Z played his best game since LeBron last played tonight. --The Cavs had a skit during the game that showed mascot Moondog running away from someone and wetting his pants when he was backed into a corner. When the camera panned out, the guy chasing him had a Michael Vick jersey on. Whoa. --After the game, the Cavs were all upset in the locker room after seeing the clip of T.J. Ford getting hammered and needing to be carried off on a stretcher.
Quotes: LeBron: ""I thought it would raise the intensity of the fans, having me, Larry and Andy come in at the same time and it worked. I thought by coming in with Andy it might stop of the boos Andy might get. Andy is one of my favorite players, I was just protecting my teammate." Larry Hughes: "I enjoy the opportunity to play off the ball. I've been catching a rhythm." Jim O'Brien: "Larry Hughes was fantastic. I thought they had two LeBron Jameses out there."