INDIANAPOLIS: Lester Hudson wasn’t trying to deny he played a part in the Cavaliers’ second-half debacle Friday night against the Indiana Pacers.
But the recent Cavs sensation did seem slightly relieved that he was hardly on the court during the crucial third quarter that spelled doom in a 102-83 loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“I didn’t play in the third quarter, I don’t think,” Hudson said.
He was almost right, spending all but 1:29 of that quarter on the bench as the Pacers outscored the Cavs 34-13 and jumped out to a 75-56 lead.
The Cavs lost to the Pacers in overtime in Cleveland on Wednesday and led by 14 points with 6:51 to play in the second quarter this time around. But the Pacers (37-22) eventually realized there was a playoff berth to be clinched.
They were at their best in the third quarter, when they outscored the Cavs 20-4 in the paint en route to a 46-22 edge in that category. The Pacers’ front line of 6-foot-9 forwards Danny Granger and David West and 7-2 center Roy Hibbert dominated. The Cavs were battling without 7-footer Semih Erden, who sprained his right ankle against the Pacers on Wednesday.
“He’s had some pretty good games against these guys,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said of Erden. “That’s something we really missed. But we know what they are.
“I’m very proud of the way our guys matched it, kept fighting, didn’t back down. We just don’t have enough right now. Those guys are playing for something a whole lot bigger.”
During the big third quarter, Granger and Tyler Hansbrough provided most of the muscle. Granger made 4-of-8 from the field and Hansbrough converted 2-of-3 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line, each scoring nine points. West and Hibbert added six apiece.
“They just stepped it in up in the third quarter, we couldn’t convert on shots, the communication on the defensive end wasn’t there,” Cavs forward Antawn Jamison said. “A break or two and things might have been different, but I definitely won’t take anything away from what they did. We didn’t do the things we need to do in the third quarter.”
The Pacers connected on 14-of-24 shots during the third quarter and the Cavs made only 3-of-18, including Jamison’s 0-for-5 and Alonzo Gee’s 2-for-6. That was good for Gee, who missed his first nine shots and was 2-for-12 in the game.
The Cavs’ best scoring threat during the third quarter was Manny Harris, who went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
“We couldn’t buy a basket in the third quarter and offensively they got going a little bit,” Scott said. “We had about 10 open shots and we only made one of them.”
As for Gee’s woes, Scott said: “Alonzo had some great looks and passed ‘em down and created some bad shots for himself. As the game went on, he started to lose confidence in his shot. Then when he did take the open shots he just didn’t make ‘em. Hopefully tomorrow he’ll play like the guy we know he can play like.”
The Cavs (19-38) were starting a string of five games in six nights. Nine games remain in the regular season.
In the third quarter, the Cavs also had five turnovers, which led to six Pacers points. For the game, Scott was distressed by the Cavs’ 19 turnovers that led to 22 points. Hudson committed a team-high five.
“You’ve got to get better with that ball. You can’t turn it over as much as he turned it over the last two games,” Scott said of Hudson, who had six against the Pacers on Wednesday. “It has to be a lot better as far as decision-making.”
Playing 19 minutes, Hudson finished with seven points, only his second single-digit output in the past six games.
“Shot selection wasn’t that bad, he just didn’t knock ‘em down,” Scott said. “George [Hill] did a better job of guarding him and their guards gave him a little bit more attention.”
Hudson insisted the Pacers didn’t defend him any differently after he scored 19 points on them just days ago.
“I just made a couple mistakes tonight, and I turned down a couple shots I should have taken, and it led to a turnover and fast break for them,” he said.
“I’ve got to let the game come to me and tonight I didn’t get into a rhythm for it to come to me.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.