Following a familiar script Tuesday night — a less-than-perfect
first half, a dominant third quarter and solid defense throughout — the Pacers defeated the Heat 90-84.
The Pacers (19-3) were behind at halftime for the 12th time this
season, and they rallied to win for a 10th time in those games. This
one was bigger, though, as it was against their nemesis.
"It means a lot," Pacers forward Paul George said. "For us to not
get too down about the game and come in still focused to win a big
game says a lot about how mature this group is and how focused we
Center Roy Hibbert scored 24 points, George produced 15 of his 17
points in the second half, and forward David West added 17 points
and nine rebounds for the Pacers, who improved on the NBA's best
record and remained the Eastern Conference's only unbeaten team at
The game was a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference finals,
which the Heat won in seven games. The Pacers chose not to make too
big a deal about the win, in part because of a rematch in Miami on
Dec. 18, and in part because they expect to win these games now.
"We act like we've been there before," Hibbert said. "That's the
biggest thing. We're not going to be running around chest-bumping
and stuff like that. We have the best record for a reason. It's not
like it was three years ago where if you got a win like this, it was
the highlight of our season."
Miami forward LeBron James, who entered the game as the league's No.
2 scorer, was held to 17 points on 6-for-16 shooting. He added 14
rebounds and six assists. Guard Dwyane Wade added 17 points on
6-of-14 shooting for the Heat (16-6).
Pacers coach Frank Vogel gave George credit for bothering Miami's
"To do what he did, scoring 15 points in the second half while
guarding LeBron James, and then Dwyane Wade while LeBron was out,
was a special performance," Vogel said.
Miami finished with season lows in scoring and 3-point percentage
"They're a very good defensive team, and they got us into some quick
shots, shots that aren't necessarily our ideal game," Miami coach
Erik Spoelstra said. "Got stuck not moving the ball, and that's a
credit to their defense."
The game was tight heading into the fourth quarter. Pacers guard
C.J. Watson went behind his back at full speed on the break to get
past Heat guard Norris Cole before finishing with a layup. James
missed at the other end, then forward Luis Scola scored to give the
Pacers a 78-72 lead and force the Heat to call timeout with 6:19 to
[to top of second column]
A 3-point shot by George pushed Indiana's lead to 81-72, and
the Pacers remained in control from there.
Miami led 47-40 at halftime, but Indiana did its usual
third-quarter damage. Pacers guard Lance Stephenson opened the
second half with a 3-pointer to trim Miami's lead to four, and
Hibbert followed with a hook to cut it to two. A few minutes
later, Pacers guard George Hill's 3-pointer tied it at 55.
Hibbert's three-point play gave Indiana a 58-57 lead midway
through the third quarter, the Pacers' first advantage of the
George hit two 3-pointers to extend Indiana's lead to 68-62, and
Indiana was up 68-64 after three periods. George finished with
12 points and three assists in the third quarter as the Pacers
outscored the Heat 28-17. James scored two points on 1-for-4
shooting in the third.
The Heat led 40-29 before George got on the scoreboard with 3:54
left in the first half. The Pacers, outplayed most of the half,
cut into their deficit when Stephenson scored and was fouled
with 4.2 seconds left in the second quarter. He made the free
throw to trim Miami's lead to 47-40 at the break.
George finished with two points in the first half on 0-for-4
shooting from the field.
His second half was typical of how he has played after halftime
"I think I was looking to make plays a little bit too much when
plays weren't available (in the first half)," George said.
"Second half, I just allowed (myself) to just buy into what the
defense was giving me. I wasn't going to press, I wasn't going
to force anything, I was just going to let the game come to me.
My teammates did a good job of finding me."
Now, the Pacers, rather than celebrating, will focus on doing
what they are doing more than any other team — winning.
"We're just going to move on," Hibbert said. "We want the No. 1
seed, we want to have home-court advantage in the playoffs, and
we take every game seriously. Every game is a must win for us."
NOTES: Pacers F Danny Granger remains inactive due to a strained
left calf. He has not played this season, but he is expected to
play Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats. ... Singer/actor
Justin Timberlake was at courtside. He has a concert scheduled
for Wednesday in Indianapolis. ... The Pacers went 3-2 on a
grueling road trip that included wins over the Los Angeles
Clippers and San Antonio Spurs. ... Pacers F David West grabbed
his 5,000th career rebound in the first quarter.
[© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2013 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.