CLEVELAND – Clearly, winning preseason basketball games aren’t what the Pacers are all about. They prefer to save it for when it really matters.
It’s true that the Pacers pulled away from the Cavaliers in the second half to coast to a 102-79 victory Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena. But you get the sense the Pacers would’ve been OK with it had they lost.
“We were able to further explore our roster flexibility,” was how Pacers coach Frank Vogel explained the evening.
The Pacers came within a game of reaching the NBA Finals last year, falling to the eventual-champion Heat in the Eastern Conference championship series. Saturday’s win was their first (in six tries) of the exhibition season, as Vogel has rested starters and used a variety of combinations.
“I think we’re alright,” he said before the game, when the Pacers were still 0-5.
Then forward David West scored a game-high 20 points (some of which came on very difficult shots that West made look easy) and newcomer Chris Copeland added 15 off the bench — and everyone got to see why the Pacers are considered a real threat in the East again.
“We started exhibiting some will, desiring to get that win,” Vogel said.
And that, folks, is the team the Pacers are used to being.
C.J. Watson tacked on 14 points, and Lance Stephenson (5-of-6 shooting) and Luis Scola scored 13 apiece.
“We didn’t think we were playing up to our standards,” Watson said. “So we just came out and played better as a team.”