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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, January 27th (All times eastern)

Cleveland Cavaliers (23-17) at Indiana Pacers (21-20), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Central Division rivals meet when the Indiana Pacers welcome LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight to Conseco Fieldhouse.

On Wednesday, the Pacers finally ended the Ron Artest saga, as they shipped the disgruntled forward to Sacramento for sharp-shooting forward Peja Stojakovic. The deal had been completed on Tuesday, but Artest reportedly balked at going to the Kings.

However, after meeting with Indiana brass Artest accepted the deal.

Stojakovic is doubtful for tonight's contest.

The Pacers come into tonight's tilt after getting routed by the Cavs, 96-66, on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Stephen Jackson led his team with 17 points, but all of them came in the first half for the Pacers, who have dropped four straight. Danny Granger posted 12 points and 11 rebounds and O'Neal finished with seven points and 15 boards.

To make matters worse forward Jermaine O'Neal left the game with a groin injury and could be sidelined up to two months. An MRI on Thursday revealed a significant tear in his left groin.

If he returns in late March, as expected, the Pacers could have as few as 11 games to make a final playoff push.

Indiana, which plays eight of its next nine at home, is 12-6 at home this season.

Cleveland, meanwhile, enters on a winning note after James scored 22 of his 38 points in the second half and the Cavaliers used a big fourth quarter to earn a 106-97 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday at Philips Arena.

Donyell Marshall added 19 points off the bench -- 16 of which came in the final period -- and the Cavaliers outscored the Hawks 13-4 over the final four minutes to come away with their third straight victory.

Cleveland also had a lot of help at the free-throw line, as the Cavs sunk 38- of-51 attempts from the charity stripe, compared to just 16-of-22 for Atlanta.

The Cavaliers, who will host Phoenix on Sunday, are 8-12 away from home this season.

Indiana has dropped two of three to the Cavs this season, but has won 12 of 16 and 16 of the last 22 meetings. Cleveland, though, has dropped seven in a row and 13 of its past 16 in Indiana.

01/27 10:36:47 ET


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