Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson didn't know how right he was.

When asked how his team was going to try and exceed the physicality of the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, Thompson said, "We've just got to come out ready and punch them in the face first.''

That first punch took the form of an 8-0 lead that set the tone for the Cavs' 90-76 victory that snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Pacers and moved the Cavs within 2.5 games of the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Dion Waiters had 19 points and Thompson added 12 points and 16 rebounds for the Cavs, who improved to 30-45 in spite of losing Anderson Varejao for the second half with a strained right shoulder. The team did not announce how severe the injury was or how long Varejao might be out.

Paul George had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Pacers, who slipped to 52-22 with their second straight loss and fourth in five games.

Trailing almost the entire game, Indiana's frustration boiled over midway through the fourth quarter when David West took exception to a foul by Cavs rookie Matthew Dellavedova and swung an elbow. Spencer Hawes stepped in to defend Dellavedova and West put his hand around Hawes throat and pushed him away. Hawes and West each received technical fouls and West also received a flagrant 1 foul with 6:52 left in the game.