Irving Back, Pacers Win 3rd in Row

Irving Back, Pacers Win 3rd in Row

CLEVELAND (AP) – The Pacers are making old-school basketball trendy, winning with defense, balanced scoring and strong second halves.
Roy Hibbert scored 22 points and Lance Stephenson fell just short of his fourth triple double this season, helping the Pacers hold off Toronto’s late charge for an 86-79 victory that allowed them to keep the NBA’s best record.
”We didn’t let them get physical with us,” Stephenson said, referring to the stark contrast to Indiana’s loss last week north of the border. ”That was a point of emphasis.”
The Pacers (28-6) have won three straight since that loss at Toronto and have a two-game lead over two-time defending champion Miami in the Eastern Conference.

Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving is back in the lineup after missing three games with a bruised left knee.
Irving is starting against Philadelphia. The third-year pro was sidelined after injuring his knee on an awkward fall last week at Indiana. Irving said he may have overreacted after going down, but that he was ”scared to death” that he was hurt more seriously.
Irving felt a ”pop” in his knee, but an MRI showed no structural damage. Irving called it a ”weird” injury and said he didn’t want to come back until he was 100 percent.
He leads the Cavs in scoring at 22.2 points per game. Irving started 31 consecutive games before he was injured. He missed 38 games in his first two NBA seasons with a variety of injuries.
Meanwhile, Former NBA star Charles D. Smith says he feels remorse for coming to Pyongyang with Dennis Rodman for a game on the North Korean leader’s birthday because the event has been dwarfed by politics and tainted by Rodman’s own comments.
Smith and other former NBA players are scheduled to play with Rodman against a team of North Koreans on Wednesday that organizers say leader Kim Jong Un is expected to attend. Many of the players privately expressed second thoughts about going ahead because of an outpouring of criticism back home in the United States.
Smith, who played for the New York Knicks, said the North Korea trip has been dwarfed by politics and Rodman’s frequent boasts about his close friendship with Kim.

*Kyrie Irving

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