Posted December 19, 2013

Three-Pointers: Heat go big late to squeeze by Pacers

Ben Golliver, Indiana Pacers, LeBron James, Miami Heat, Paul George
Heat forward LeBron James tallied 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists against the Pacers. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images Sport)

Heat forward LeBron James tallied 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists against the Pacers. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images Sport)

The Heat rode a 12-2 closing run to defeat the Pacers 97-94 in Miami on Wednesday night. The victory evened the season series between the two teams at one game apiece and narrowed Indiana’s lead in the Eastern Conference standings to just one game. 

• Heat go big to close hard. Tense and intense. That’s how things have gone between the Heat and Pacers, and Wednesday night’s thriller clung tightly to that rule. Let’s see, in no particular order: Mario Chalmers delivered a strong blow to Lance Stephenson that ended with double technicals, LeBron James had to be restrained from going after Chalmers in a huddle, Shane Battier got in a shot to David West that was initially ruled a flagrant foul, Dwyane Wade went head over heels during a lay-up attempt, and the contest ended with Paul George delivering his profane assessment of a last-second no-call to referee Joey Crawford. Just another round of what we’ve come to expect from the East’s top two teams; just another mid-winter appetizer for the inevitable 2014 conference finals match-up.

Indiana will kick itself for frittering this one away, especially after they responded well to multiple second-half rally attempts by Miami. George, who finished with 25 points (on 8-for-16 shooting), eight rebounds and six assists, succeeded in playing LeBron James to a virtual draw, which has become the lead item on his job description. James was a game-time decision due to an ankle sprain, but he finished with 24 points (on 8-for-14 shooting), nine rebounds and seven assists, and he looked uninhibited on multiple high-flying dunks, including a nasty stop-and-go move that froze Luis Scola in his tracks.

James ran off 10 quick points in a three-minute stretch spanning the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, and yet George was right there to break up the bleeding with an and-one. Miami pressed again with the game under six minutes, and George responded with a jumper and an assist to Roy Hibbert that kept Indiana firmly in control until the game’s closing minutes. Indiana’s MVP candidate wasn’t a one-man show, but he has joined Kevin Durant as the only wing players who are capable of dulling or at least delaying the impact that results from James kicking his game into high gear.

Just when it seemed that Miami, who trailed by as many as 15 points, would run out of time with its comeback bid, Indiana faltered in the game’s closing three minutes. The Heat ditched Chalmers down the stretch, tabbing James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen as a big unit closing five. That group offers Miami a strong combination of shooting and versatility while also maximizing its ability to compete with the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West on the glass, and it paid dividends on Wednesday. Indeed, James was the only one of the Heat’s closing five players not to score in the 12-2 push over the game’s final 3:09, a testament to Miami’s ability to generate opportunities from multiple scoring options through good ball movement and decision-making.

Injured center Greg Oden, who has yet to make his regular-season debut for Miami, still looms as a wild card, but it’s certainly possible that the James/Wade/Allen/Bosh/Andersen group sees the court together when it counts against Indiana come the postseason, even if it’s barely been used since Andersen signed with Miami back in January.

• Paul George got jobbed. This is the definition of spilled milk, but there’s no question that George should have been awarded three free-throws on Indiana’s final possession. With the clock under 10 seconds, George did well to evade James in a rushed situation, coming back to the ball at the top of the key for an attempt to tie the game. As he rose into his shot, James’ left hand clearly contacted George’s waist. Yes, George clearly sold the degree of contact with an embellished reaction, but the contact was undeniable.

The worst part about this one is that James wasn’t even all that sneaky with the handsy treatment. He was banking on the referees swallowing their whistles more than he was deftly pulling a fast one, as he was a little bit hurried in his defensive effort because he was trying to make up for the fact that George had turned the corner. George appeared to say, “Bleeping bull-bleep, Joey,” as he walked off the court. He had every right to be peeved, even if Indiana made a mess up multiple possessions down the stretch.

• Dwyane Wade piles up points in transition. Limiting Miami’s fast-break points is far easier said than done, especially if turnovers are a recurring issue, as they have been for Indiana. That said, Pacers coach Frank Vogel will expect better from his players, who committed 16 turnovers and sacrificed 21 fast-break points on Wednesday.

Wade finished with a game-high 32 points (on 15-for-25 shooting) and he made a killing in the open court, scoring 10 points in transition opportunities. Miami forced some of those chances with their defense but others were simply a matter of the Pacers losing track of Wade, who has long been a skilled cherry-picker. After Lance Stephenson missed a fall-away jumper, Wade leaked out behind him and the rest of the Pacers to net an uncontested dunk with less than three minutes to play, shrinking Indiana’s lead to three and making this a one-possession game. Conceding two easy points in that time/score situation is the type of unforgivable, cardinal sin that separates contenders from champions.

16 comments
OK
OK

Da Queen raped Paul George and still got the W on the Heat Sports and Propaganda Network (HSPN).

MikeHuser1
MikeHuser1

There were a lot of no calls or bad calls in favor of the heat. As a pacer fan, you have to accept the fact you're not going to get fair treatment by the officials. It's bad for business if the Pacers make the finals. So they have to play solid basketball. Because when it comes to the playoffs, the Pacers will be playing 5 against 8. Last night was just one piece of evidence.

Dodgerflip
Dodgerflip

Good game last night, but Miami better get home court in the playoffs against Indy or their run at 3 rings will be over

bobdevo
bobdevo

Memo to Miami:  Keep D-Wade well rested during the season.

maximumwarp33
maximumwarp33

no call on the last play = typical homecooking

JayTaylor
JayTaylor

Each side is even after 2 games....Both teams stepped up and gave it their best. Both teams walked away realizing they weren't the best team. 

The Pacers might find another level. I'm not convinced Miami can make it to 4 in a row.


 

 

YupIamhere
YupIamhere

@MikeHuser1You are off. There were alot of bad calls period. pacers shot more free throws than the Heat.

Mswenson
Mswenson

@maximumwarp33 fouled during the pass way before the shot so really only 2 freethrows, and paul george is a flopper which is all of a sudden ok..  I see heat haters are still soft as hell yet  want the league to be tougher

Mr. J
Mr. J

@JayTaylor Miami just needs Beasley to come back and give them 16 points against Indiana, Also Miami needs to play big more often Coach S needs to realize that small ball won't work for 80% of the time against Indy maybe other teams...Also I don't expect Miami to miss that many wide open 3s I mean they missed a ton of wide open 3s not likely to happen again....and if Oden can give them 15 min come playoff time they will be good....Indy should have sent Miami a message tonight instead they Champs know what they can do with better help from the other teammates!!....Sorry Indy!

DT2332
DT2332

@Mr. J @JayTaylor Beasley hasn't averaged over 16 ppg in almost 5 years so he's not just going to come back against one of the best defensive teams in the league and go crazy. Miami missed wide open 3's last year in the playoffs too so it's nothing new. If you don't remember the reason why Mike Miller played in the playoffs is because he was the only one who could hit threes. Greg Oden has been out of basketball for three years and before that *when he was health*y he only averaged 8 ppg and 11 ppg in his 2 years in the NBA. He's not going to come back after a 4 year absence and be anything to worry about 


Indy has sent the Heat a message and the Heat have it loud and clear. Funny how they downplay it and say 'it's only December' then they walk off the court like a bunch of cry babies when they lose in Indy and celebrate like it's the playoffs when they win in Miami. The real message is that it took a 10-2 run in the closing minutes to win the game in the final minute. The real message is that Miami only went on its run once Roy Hibbert left the game with foul trouble - something that won't happen again. Roy is the only person in the NBA that LBJ has trouble scoring close to. The Big 3 had 71 of the Heat's 97 points with no others scoring in double digits and Wade will not go for 32 a game for 7 straight. George Hill and Roy Hibbert were 4 and 6 points respectively under their season averages. Heat fans shouldn't want Danny Granger to come back because he's one of the few wing defenders in the NBA who can *kind o*f stay with LBJ (look at how he played against him in the Eastern semi's two years ago.) Last night PG played all 24 minutes in the 2nd half and had to chase Bron around the whole time. When Granger is back they can split those minutes up so George can blanket Wade or somebody else. So, the message is loud and clear my friends and come June, you'll understand.

TtheP
TtheP

@DT2332 @TtheP The 12-2 run came with Roy in the game . . . and besides Roy's foul trouble (although big) the Pacers hardly played like doodoo . .  George played LeBron evenly and your bench out shot ours  . . . if there was an X factor it was Wade . .  I'm not buying that you guys are finding yourselves . . . on the other hand the 12-2 run came with a whole new lineup that Spo finally moved on . . . it's going to be interesting . . . and you have made everyone notice . . . as I said above, you guys are good.

DT2332
DT2332

@TtheP the Pacers are coming off a home loss to Detroit and they had 28 turnovers last night. They have a COMPLETELY new bench and it will be changed again with the return of Granger. 20 games into the season and they are still trying to figure out their best lineups and who to play with who, when. Roy is 3 ppg and 2 rpg below his playoff average of last year. Lance is still shooting sub 40 percent from the floor and Hill is still learning how to be a 'true' point guard. This team has A LOT of work to do. And the fact of the matter is the only damage done by the Heat last night was when Roy was out .. oh and if I didn't mention it already, they had 28 turnovers ... so again, it took two threes in the final minute to beat a Pacers team that essentially played like doo doo in Miami. 

TtheP
TtheP

@DT2332 @Mr. J @JayTaylor Cry  . . . Celebrate . . . As I recall after the game in Indy LeBron spoke highly of Indy . . . the only crying going on last night was George . . . they threw the game away because the Heat know how to play like champions when it matters, which is what they did in the last 3 min . . . 12- 2 run  in 3 min . . . The Pacers have demonstrated that they are going to be a pain in the Heat's side this year . . . their only mistake so far is thinking that they can sustain the intensity with which they have come into this season for an entire 9 months . . . While the Pacers are playing at the TOP of their game right now . . .(They can't really improve on what they are doing right now)  the Heat are Photo bombing and carrying on enjoying the first part of season before they get serious to go on another masterful winning streak in the second half of the season.  Good luck . . . you guys are strong . . . You're bigger cry babies than the Celtics . . . but you are good.