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Jasikevicius sparks Pacers past Cavaliers

Nov 25, 2006 - 3:58 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- LeBron James has probably had his fill of Sarunas Jasikevicius.

Jasikevicius scored 15 points and sparked a second-half comeback as the Indiana Pacers rallied for a 97-87 victory over James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose struggles on the road continued.

Jermaine O'Neal scored 29 points for the Pacers, who erased a 16-point third-quarter deficit and allowed just 31 points in the second half as they won for the third time in four games.

In the 2004 Olympics, James and Team USA were victimized by Jasikevicius, who torched a handful of NBA stars with his perimeter game and led Lithuania to a stunning victory in group play.

Jasikevicius was regarded as the best player in Europe when he was signed by the Pacers last summer and has been used at both guard spots.

As the shooting guard, Jasikevicius made a 3-pointer to give Indiana a 64-63 lead with 1:31 left in the third quarter. He added eight quick points in the final period, helping Indiana pull away.

"The difference is that when I've played shooting guard, I've been more involved," said Jasikevicius, who made 6-of-11 shots. "Like tonight, I played shooting guard, but was put in a lot of pick-and-roll situations, pick-and-pop. I'm not the type of player that wants to shoot a lot, I just want to get involved and then get other people open looks."

"I think he likes playing against us," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "This happened to us last year. We came in here and I think he had five or six threes against us. We definitely have to do a better job against him. He was catching and shooting off of pin-downs. Defensively, we broke down because we weren't defending the other guy coming off of those picks and screens."

A pair of jumpers by Jasikevicius gave the Pacers the lead for good at 77-74 with 7:57 to play.

James made two free throws, but Jasikevicius alternated a pair of jumpers with inside buckets by O'Neal for an 85-76 bulge with 4:28 to go. The Cavaliers got no closer than six points thereafter.

Jamaal Tinsley scored 19 points for the Pacers, who shot under 40 percent (30-of-76) but made 33-of-42 free throws and committed just seven turnovers.

James scored 30 points before fouling out and Drew Gooden added 17 for the Cavaliers, who shot 41 percent but committed 19 turnovers. Cleveland has lost three straight road games.

"We have to figure this thing out on the road," Brown said. "We just have to keep plugging away, plugging away, plugging away until we figure out how to get wins on the road."

"Sometimes, I don't think some of these guys are focused," James said. "I don't think we're on the same page at times. At home we're on the same page, but on the road we're not. We've just got to dig down deep and tough it out."

Gooden scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Cavs raced to a 27-12 lead. They pushed the margin to 16 points in the second period before settling for a 56-44 halftime advantage.

"Like always, we're digging a hole and making life very difficult on ourselves," Jasikevicius said. "I don't know why it keeps happening. The coaches keep talking about it, but we haven't managed to change it."

"When you play those teams at the top, they're not going to let you come back," O'Neal said. "We don't want to get into the bad habit of getting 14 or 18 down, because those teams will bury you. We just have to figure out a way."

In the third quarter, the momentum totally changed. O'Neal scored 10 points while Cleveland managed just nine on 3-of-15 shooting.

"We started feeling good about ourselves," Brown said. "Then - this has happened to us in the past - we get relaxed on the defensive end of the floor. I'm not saying we need to blow anybody out, but we need to make sure that everybody remains focused."

"Right now, we're not playing real well on the road and eventually we're going to have to get something figured out," James said. "I don't know if it's going to be a lineup change or a personnel change, but guys are just going to have to be focused. Someway, somehow, we need to figure it out."

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