INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Ron Artest takes pride in shutting down the other team's top scorer. He never really got a chance against Cleveland.
Davis, who averages 23.4 points, did not return for the start of the second half. He was benched 6 minutes into the game and took a seat on the baseline next to the team's bench.
The game went much more smoothly for the Pacers, off their best start in the team's NBA history at 6-1 overall and 5-0 at home. They've done it without Reggie Miller and Austin Croshere, both on the injured list.
"Seven-and-oh would be better, but we can't complain,'' said Brad Miller, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds. "We're playing well, especially on the defensive end and that's what's taking care of us.''
Artest, who has started all seven games at the two spot in
Reggie Miller's absence made 9-of-10 from the floor, went 2-for-2
from 3-point range and made both free-throw attempts.
After coming out of the game, Davis put his warmup outfit,
draped a towel over his back and even stretched out his 6-foot-7
frame, resting his head on a stack of towels.
He didn't join the Cavaliers in the huddle during timeouts, instead standing off to the side with his hands in his pockets and looking around the arena. Assistant coach Keith Smart gave a few disgusted glances toward Davis.
Smart came over during the final timeout of the first half and put his arm around Davis, and both smiled as they talked.
Davis failed to participate in the halftime shootaround and did not return for the second half. He scored two points on 1-for-2 shooting.
Coach John Lucas declined to say why he benched Davis and what happened to him in the second half.
"I decided not to play him. I wanted to go another way,'' he said. When pressed further, Lucas said: "I just decided to go another way.''
Miles said he expected Davis back for Wednesday's game against Dallas, but his teammates also decided not to talk about Davis.
That wasn't the only distraction on the bench.
Lucas also screamed and waved a finger in the face of rookie point guard Smush Parker early in the second quarter. The point guard combination of Parker, Milt Palacio and Bimbo Coles was criticized last week by forward Tyrone Hill. Hill guaranteed the Cavaliers, off to a 2-6 start, would be in the playoffs if they had a true point guard.
Lucas said that was no longer an issue. Now he might have another one.
"We're going to struggle,'' Lucas said. "I've got to make sure I do my job and get my team under control.''
Artest was guarding Davis until he was benched and laughed when
it was suggested he was the reason for his early departure.
"I don't know what it was,'' Artest said. "I expected him to play 40 tonight.''
The Pacers used runs of 14-4 in the first quarter and 9-1 in the
second to start the rout early. They outscored Cleveland 18-2 on
fastbreak points in the half, ending many scoring opportunities on
Artest, known more for his defense, added a nice play when he blocked Ilgauskas' shot in the third period as the 7-3 center was attempting a baseline jumper. Artest sprinted down the lane to knock the ball out of bounds.
"I feel like I'm the best and can score on anybody,'' Artest said. "The guys really calmed me down and let me know it's team ball first.''
Artest's only miss from the field came on a 20-footer in the second quarter. But, he might the odd man out when Miller recovers from a deep bone bruise on his right ankle.
"When Reggie comes back he's going to make us a much better
team,'' Artest said. "I can't wait until Reggie comes back, no
matter what happens. We need him.''
The Pacers started 6-1 four times in the ABA, including a
franchise best 9-1 in 1969-70. ... The Pacers evened the career
series record against Cleveland at 63-all. ... Artest went over
2,600 career points. ... Indiana's Jeff Foster grabbed his 1,000th
career rebound. ... Miller had his third double double.
...Cleveland was 0-for-4 from 3-point range.