CLEVELAND — The Pacers don't win with artistic beauty. Most times, they simply pummel teams into submission.
Indiana plays ugly, and ugly usually wins.
"No style points," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "None. Zero."
Paul George scored 16 points, Roy Hibbert made a putback and two free throws in the final 1:09, and the Pacers turned to their defense to hold off Cleveland's late rally for an 82-78 win over the short-handed Cavaliers.
The Pacers led by 16 in the fourth before guard Dion Waiters brought Cleveland back by scoring 12 straight points in a 16-1 run that got the Cavs within 75-74 with 3:35 left. Hibbert's free throw with 7.9 seconds left put the Pacers up 81-78, and Indiana got the ball back when Cavs forward Earl Clark stepped on the sideline on a poorly executed inbounds play with 6.9 left.
David West made one free throw with 5.4 seconds remaining, and the Pacers escaped with their seventh win in eight games. At 27-6, Indiana has the NBA's best record — now that's pretty.
C.J. Miles scored 21 and Waiters had 14 for the Cavaliers, who played their third game in a row without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. He has a bruised knee and his backup, Jarrett Jack, sat with back spasms.
The Pacers had to grind this one out after taking control with 14-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters.
Lance Stephenson made a 3-pointer as Indiana closed the third with a 7-0 run and then extended the lead to 16 by opening the fourth with another 7-0 burst capped by Danny Granger's 3.
That's when Waiters, the subject of trade rumors for weeks, brought the Cavs back. He reeled off 12 in a row and fed Anderson Varejao with two nice assists to get the Cavs within 79-78.
Hibbert split a pair of free throws, but on Cleveland's next trip, Waiters missed a 3 and then forced a layup in traffic. Hibbert's free throw gave the Pacers a two-point cushion, but Cleveland couldn't execute a simple inbounds pass without a turnover and West put it away with his late free throw.
"It's another tough loss," Waiters said. "We fought back. We never put our heads down when they went up 16. These kinds of losses hurt because we were right there. We've been there all year long, and once we find a way to close these games out we'll be really good."
Hibbert added 15 points.