34 and counting

Short-handed Cavaliers suffer another road defeat

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS - The Cleveland Cavaliers made a big trade Monday in hopes of turning around their losing ways on the road.

The new additions didn't arrive soon enough.

Jermaine O'Neal had 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to help the Indiana Pacers send LeBron James and the short-handed Cavaliers to their 34th consecutive road loss, 95-85 Monday night.

"We were right in the game tonight," Cleveland coach Paul Silas said. "If we'd have had a little bit more firepower, we would have been right there."

The Cavaliers dressed only nine players after completing a six-player trade with the Boston Celtics earlier in the day.

Cleveland sent guard Ricky Davis, forwards Chris Mihm and Michael Stewart to the Celtics for forwards Eric Williams, Tony Battie and center Kedrick Brown.

The swap also includes Cleveland giving the Celtics a second-round pick.

"We have to get guys in that know how to win," Silas said. "Guys that have been there before and understand."

The Cavs may have had a short bench against Indiana, but they still had James, and that was almost enough. The top pick in the NBA draft, who has been more aggressive offensively since having a heart-to-heart with Silas after a loss to Detroit last week, carried the Cavs again on Monday.

James had 27 points, six assists, three steals and three blocks, but Cleveland's road woes continued. The Cavs' losing streak is tied with New Jersey's streak in the 1989-90 and 1990-91 campaigns for the second-longest in NBA history. Sacramento's 43-game streak in the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons is the longest.

"How do you come up with a formula for a guy like this?" Carlisle said of James. "He has great maturity, great poise, charisma, charm and skill. He's having fun out there, but he's very serious about the game."

Carlisle's formula for winning was balance plus Ron Artest.

The Pacers' depth was simply too much for James to overcome. Five Pacers scored in double figures, including 16 points and seven assists from Artest.

"The Pacers are the best team in the Eastern Conference and one of the best in the league," James said. "For us to come out and battle, that's all I can ask."

Al Harrington added 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Anthony Johnson scored 13 points and had six assists for Indiana.

Artest also had another strong night defensively, holding James to just one field goal in the fourth quarter.

"One or two stops can have a great influence on a game," Carlisle said. "Ron Artest had some stops that had a huge impact in the fourth quarter."

Carlos Boozer scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Cavaliers, who played their first game without one of their most talented players - and their biggest headache - in Davis.

The enigmatic Davis has clashed with players and coaches throughout his career.

The Pacers used hot shooting to take a 33-26 first-quarter lead. Indiana shot 14-of-22 (64 percent) in the quarter, led by O'Neal and Artest, who each had eight.

Indiana cooled off in the second quarter, allowing James and the Cavs back into the game. James threw down an alley-oop from J.R. Bremer to tie the game at 64 with 3:34 to go in the third, but the Cavs were never able to take the lead.

"When you're short-handed like that you can't really point fingers," Silas said. "I think the guys did as well as they could do. I was very happy with the effort."

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