By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are bringing a 14-game division losing streak into a matchup with a team they haven't beaten much of late.
There is some hope for the Cavaliers since Kyrie Irving has returned heading into Wednesday night's road contest with the Indiana Pacers.
Cleveland (5-17) hasn't beaten a Central Division foe since a 101-100 win over Detroit on Feb. 21. The Cavaliers have dropped eight of their last nine against the Pacers (10-11), including four in a row on the road - where they are 2-11 this season.
Irving is back after missing 11 games with a broken finger. He returned with 28 points and 11 assists as the Cavaliers ended a five-game skid with Tuesday's 100-94 victory over the Lakers.
"I was just staying aggressive the entire game and finding my teammates," Irving said. "I worked with the bigs in practice yesterday and told them what spots to be at and that I'd find them."
The Cavaliers limited Los Angeles to 41.3 percent shooting - the lowest percentage they have yielded in 11 games. Cleveland is last in the NBA in field-goal percentage defense at 47.8 percent.
"For 48 minutes, we played some of the best defense," coach Byron Scott said. "As I told the guys after the game, that's how we have to play."
Cleveland sported a new backcourt Tuesday with C.J. Miles getting his first start of the season. Miles came through with 28 points for his highest total in two seasons.
"I started him because he was playing really well the last three or four games, and I thought his confidence was coming back," Scott said. "The second thing was that he's been taking good shots, not trying to do too much, and letting the game come to him."
Indiana could be poised to slow down Cleveland's guards. The Pacers are limiting opponents to 41.3 percent from the field for the NBA's best mark.
The Pacers, however, enter off one of their poorer efforts on the defensive end in Sunday's 104-93 loss at Oklahoma City. Led by Kevin Durant's 27 points, the Thunder shot 48.7 percent.
"It's tough to see guys making shots when you're playing tough defense on them. That was really what it was for us," forward Paul George said.
Indiana is the league's second-worst scoring team at 90.8 points per games as it continues to struggle without swingman Danny Granger, out with a sore left knee.
"We may have a couple breakdowns here and there that we need to fix, but that is something expected with a lot of new guys and a guy like Danny out," guard George Hill said. "We have to figure out how to close games late in the game."
Cleveland was outrebounded 54-43 on Tuesday and faces another tough task with Indiana averaging a league-high 46.3 boards.
The Cavs do have the NBA's top rebounder in Anderson Varejao, who had 20 points and nine boards against the Lakers - though his streak of 12 straight games with double-digit rebounds came to an end.
Updated December 12, 2012