CLEVELAND (AP) – Thaddeus Young scored 26 points, Darren Collison had 25 and the Indiana Pacers sent the Cleveland Cavaliers to their fourth straight loss, 124-107, on Wednesday night.
LeBron James had 33 points and 11 assists, but it wasn’t enough to keep Cleveland from losing for the fifth time in six games and falling to 3-5.
The Cavaliers held a lengthy meeting before Tuesday’s practice to discuss their struggles, but the defending Eastern Conference champions have lost by a combined margin of 58 points in their losing streak.
James was upbeat about the meeting, but the Cavaliers still have issues to work out, especially on the defensive end.
Cleveland led 69-68 in the third quarter, but Indiana hit four straight 3-pointers and built an eight-point lead.
Indiana was 16 of 26 from 3-point range. Cleveland had allowed the second most 3-pointers in the league going into the game.
Victor Oladipo scored 23 points for the Pacers. Bojan Bogdanovic added 17, and Domantas Sabonis had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The Pacers built the lead to double figures early in the fourth quarter, but James pulled the Cavaliers closer with a dunk and a three-point play to make it 97-94.
Indiana scored on its next four possessions, including Oladipo’s 3-pointer. Collison hit a 3-pointer giving the Pacers a 109-101 lead. Indiana pulled away in the final minutes.
Indiana showed little effect from playing the second end of a back-to-back. The Pacers rolled past Sacramento, 101-83, on Tuesday and led for most of the first half.
Lance Stephenson was assessed a flagrant one in the second quarter for hitting James in the groin area as the four-time MVP drove to the basket.
James spent several seconds on the baseline hunched over in pain before walking to the bench while the officials looked at the replay. James made both free throws, sparking an 11-0 run.
Derrick Rose had 19 points while Kevin Love had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson left the game in the second quarter with a strained left calf and didn’t return.
HEAT 97, BULLS 91
In Miami, Goran Dragic scored 20 points and Tyler Johnson added 19 as the Miami Heat beat the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night to end a three-game slide.
Hassan Whiteside returned from a five-game absence with a bruised knee and scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Heat, who went 3-3 on their six-game homestand and gave coach Erik Spoelstra what has apparently become his annual gift – it was the fourth straight year Miami played and won on his birthday.
Spoelstra, 47, and his wife announced earlier Wednesday that they are expecting their first child, a son.