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Heat come from 15 down to even season series with Pacers

Dec 18, 2013, 10:35 PM EDT

In the second battle of the season between the two clear leaders of the Eastern Conference, the defending champs showed that they have more than enough talent to come away with a win if given even the smallest of windows to do so.

The Pacers got out to a lead of as many as 15 points in Miami, but thanks the the Heat closing the game on a 12-2 run, they came away with the 97-94 victory that evened the season series at a game apiece.

In the first meeting between these two teams, things played out almost oppositely than they did in this one. Where the Heat started off strong and faded late in the first matchup, they were able to withstand the Pacers’ early assault and put together a late attack of their own that ultimately was the difference.

Indiana did what its done to opponents all season long for much of the first half, and that’s provide a lockdown defensive effort that allows them to gain separation. The Pacers have the league’s top defense in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions, and it was on display early in holding the Heat to just 41 points over the game’s first 24 minutes.

The second half was more of the same, but the fact that Roy Hibbert was only able to play 9:38 over the final two periods due to foul trouble brought on by an unnecessary gamble by his head coach may have played a bigger role in the final outcome than his team would have liked.

Hibbert picked up his fourth foul with the Pacers leading by nine and 9:20 to play in the third quarter. Pacers coach Frank Vogel chose to leave him in the game, apparently not wanting to lose momentum with the second half just barely underway. But it was a shortsighted decision that ultimately proved costly, as Hibbert picked up his fifth foul less than a minute later, which forced him out of action until the final six minutes or so of the game.

By the time he returned, Hibbert was out of rhythm and the Heat had found theirs.

The Pacers stabilized briefly, but the Miami run was coming. And when Chris Bosh hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 92, you just had a feeling that the Heat weren’t going to let this one get away.

A miss from Paul George on the next possession led to a three-on-two fast break, and LeBron James found Ray Allen on the wing for the three in transition that gave Miami the lead for good with just under a minute to play. George had a chance to tie it for the Pacers with four seconds left, but the three-pointer he launched from the top of the arc wasn’t close. Replays showed that LeBron had a hand on George’s waist from behind, but we all know the referees are reluctant to make calls like that with the game hanging in the balance, and in real time it didn’t seem like enough contact to warrant a whistle.

Dwyane Wade had his highest scoring game of the season, and finished with 32 points on 15-of-25 shooting. LeBron had a typically efficient performance with 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Paul George (25 points) and David West (23) did the bulk of the damage for the Pacers.

These two teams are clearly the class of the East, and these regular season matchups are simply part of the season-long chess match that would seem to be leading up to an inevitable rematch of last year’s epic seven game playoff series. Indiana had its chances, but all it took was one signature run by the defending champs to put this one in Miami’s win column and remind the Pacers just how difficult it will be to beat the Heat four times in seven games.

  1. dolphindubs - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    “Whatta game, whatta game, whatta game, whatta mighty good game….yes it was”

    Did anyone else notice Beasley rocking the striped sweater over the coller with a bow-tie and khakis? Solid look. That is all.

    • florida727 - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:21 AM

      “Championships are won in June, statements are made in…” December?
      Was a nice plug to hype the game.
      Should be a heck of a series in May/June.

      • fanofevilempire - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:01 AM

        I hope the next time they play the refs stay out of the game and call the fouls they see.
        Does anyone have a book with the rules on when you can and can’t call a foul, there is
        a little confusion. The refs did a awful job, again.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM

      Pacers got robbed, with the non call.
      They will have home court and Beat the Heat.
      Heat are not any better then the Pacers

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - Dec 19, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        The good news for Pacer fans is that no one in the locker room after the game would have insulted Frank Vogel’s intelligence – or each other’s – by blaming the outcome of the game on that non-call. Paul George certainly did not do so, having airballed a wide-open corner 3 earlier – and if George gets the call here, he has to make 3 of 3 free throws (which he had already done once, granted, but it’s not a lock) and than they have to stop Miami, with a timeout and 4 seconds on the clock. I’m not justifying the non-call – I’m just saying that it’s a red herring in terms of what the game meant (if it meant anything).

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Dec 19, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      The Heat are beating beasts in the league without Beasley, Oden and it seems like some really good player is out every game. All these wins and they have no post defense and 3 rotation players are in their mid to late 30s. Lebron makes up for most of this himself, it’s amazing.

      It’s very confusing why they don’t get a serviceable center like Dalembert, Mahinmi, or a bunch of other solid yet cheap players to let Bosh slide to the 4. Centers like them would fit in well with their uptempo offense and defense as well.

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    1 back with 57 to play. I want to see that interview of all 5 of you again talking about how important the #1 seed is.

  3. jbeagles23 - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    Here’s the concern for te pacers. They’re bringing it game in and game out with their goal of having home court. If the heat get home court do the pacers have a serious let down in the playoffs?

    • cheathamhouse1 - Dec 19, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      Ahh! The psyche of the team…if necessary, that’s where the coach becomes very important…to tell them that they have nothing to feel down about and if they just make these adjustments they have a real chance to beat these guys…not sure if that will happen in a series, though. Stay Tuned in June!

  4. golfrangeman - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Great game!! Could have called a foul on the last play but didn’t look like it effected the shot ,besides P.G has got his fair share of those.
    Microcosm of why LBJ is so clutch, doesn’t force it just makes the right play, 2 big assist.

  5. antistratfordian - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    How many games in a row have the Pacers allowed a 30 point quarter? Is that 6 straight games now? That’s probably why they’re 3-3 in their last 6.

    In fact, they’ve allowed a 30 point quarter in 7 of their last 8 games, when they only allowed 3 such quarters in their first 17 games.

    Something to think about.

    • zoomy123 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:27 PM

      This type of stuff generally happens as the season wears on. It gets difficult to maintain that level of defensive intensity consistently for 82 games. Don’t worry, the Pacers still have the best defense in the league; their problem is that they still have a rather mediocre offense.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:49 PM

        I’m aware of their mediocre offense.

        I don’t think it’s typical of a great defense to allow a 30 point quarter in 6 straight games – but then I don’t have that data in front of me so I can’t say for certain. Either way I’m certain Vogel is disgusted by it. The problem is that if they’re going to start allowing this type of scoring more often – because that’s what “generally happens as the season wears on” – they won’t be able to maintain the top seed for long.

      • zoomy123 - Dec 19, 2013 at 12:09 AM

        I see what you’re saying but also look at who they were playing. In 4 out of their last 6 games they played against a top 10 offensive team: Spurs, Heat (twice), and OKC. Miami and OKC are in the top 5 and Indiana held Miami to 84 points in the first meeting. I don’t think they’re going to start allowing this type of scoring more often but it’s hard to maintain defensive intensity when you play against that kind of competition in 4 out of 6 games.

        As for Indiana keeping the top seed, I doubt it because their offense is in the bottom 10 in the NBA. Indiana has their best start in years and Miami is still only 1 game back.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 19, 2013 at 2:05 AM

        That’s a good point, though they also allowed the Bobcats (29th) and the Pistons (15th) to do it in back-to-back games as well.

        This also coincided with PG’s mini-slump so I think the Pacers may have relaxed mentally after that first Heat game – seeing as it was a “championship” game to them.

      • zoomy123 - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        I like the Pacers but they are some uppity mofo’s, lol. How can a game in December be a “championship” game? This makes me think they don’t realize how hard it is to win a real championship.

      • elcapitanfiscal - Dec 19, 2013 at 1:00 AM

        Remember turnovers killed them on offense last year..

        It will only show once they have to play half court offense in the playoffs, but the fact they dont have a true pg will hurt them once again.

      • zoomy123 - Dec 19, 2013 at 1:09 AM

        This too, lol. You saw it in the first quarter of this game. They had 7 turnovers in the first quarter. In the playoffs it’s all half-court.

  6. zoomy123 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    Jesus Christ, did you see D-Wade out there? He looked terrible and his knees look like they were made out tissue paper. D-Wade is clearly not an elite player anymore.

    • Miami305 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:28 PM

      Zoomy, I don’t think people understand the irony of your comment. DWade was on fire!

      Oh, by the way, try not to use the Lord’s name in vain. His name is above all names, and at His name every knee shall bow. His name should not be used as a curse word.

    • patsfan92 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:46 PM

      after the game he you just make yourself look like an idiot

    • fanofthegame79 - Dec 19, 2013 at 12:36 AM

      I think zoomy was being highly sarcastic and parroting what many media pundits are saying about Wade. And Miami305 – no preaching here. Gotta turn the other cheek sometimes.

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 19, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Holy Buddha!

  7. beach305 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    I dunno, but I prefer the Heat lose these early games. The reason being is that they may be less incline to bring in another player that can help them as in years past and instead stay put. Besides they play better when they have their backs are against the wall and early success makes them kind of lazy.

  8. pharohislife - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    Oh my god not down 15!!! Why even mention that like it was noteworthy enough to be in the headline. 15, thats nothing in this league.

  9. timberwolvesbrisin - Dec 19, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    After all this Pacers hype, the heat are only a game behind them and the heat have basically been in coast mode. Looks like Miami is the superior team again.

    • money2long - Dec 19, 2013 at 12:48 AM

      superior team huh. what happened to all the talk about this game just being a game? i heard a bunch of heat fans talking about this game not meaning much if they lost by 100 or vise versa. now this game’s results all of a sudden brought a lot of meaning ? hm. alot of double speak i see from heat fans a lot. it happened with beasley and oden. after all the talk leading to the game saying it’s just a game, but now after the game is over, heat fans want to use the results of this game to say the heat are superior this season. well. whatever. i see some heat fans covering their bets just in case the heat lost tonight. so had the heat lost, they can be like, well, we said it was all about the post season.

      • bcb11 - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:14 AM

        It’d probably be a mistake to take too much from one game, win or lose. I think what timberwolves up there means to say is the Pacers have made it a goal to get the number one seed, and have worked harder than most teams this season to get it, while the Heat have been resting players as they need to, and usually don’t care for most games this early in the season (rivalry games like this being the occasional exception), and still the Heat are only a game behind in the standings. I wouldn’t say the Heat are superior because of this one game. Is it fair to say they’re superior because they’re so close while being shorthanded much more often and not caring quite as much? Simply saying something like that ignores other factors (strength of schedule, etc.), but it could be a reasonable debate, at least.

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - Dec 19, 2013 at 11:46 AM

        Beasley and Oden don’t belong in this discussion. The Heat got both of them very inexpensively, and if, let’s say, the Beasley signing works out over time, then, yes, Heat fans will say it was a brilliant decision, when otherwise they will say that nothing much was invested – but that isn’t doublespeak, that’s the real-world consequence of the decision-making that has brought such a solid bench (most nights anyway) that roster slots were available for those two gambles.

        Indiana’s very public commitment to getting the #1 seed is something very different. Indiana tilted the expectation game against themselves by doing that. If we want to discuss that, fine, but the reactions of a few fans are not the best place to start.

      • money2long - Dec 19, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        ur right in saying the reaction of a few fans is not an accurate representation of the masses.

    • redbaronx - Dec 19, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      @timberwolvesbrisin – There’s still plenty of time for the Pacers to trade Granger and get some offensive firepower. Remember the Rasheed Wallace trade and what that did for the Pistons in 2005. The Pacers are capable of competing with the Heat. They just need a tiny little tweak….

      I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out what Indiana could get for Granger that would help them.

  10. jbeagles23 - Dec 19, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    I hope these teams meet in the ecf but there are no guarantees.

  11. miamatt - Dec 19, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    Great game, this is as good as December basketball gets.

    Can we stop with the “Wade shouldn’t be starting on the all star team” chatter? He’s played in 19 out of 25 games, is shooting a career-high FG% and is closing in on a 20-5-5 average.

    Much respect to the Pacers and their fans. George and West hit some crazy shots in the 4th quarter.

    See ya in March.

    • redbaronx - Dec 19, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      @miamatt – Wade worked hard in the offseason and it shows. He’s looking good and hopefully he can keep this up. I’m not a Miami fan, but the NBA is a far more entertaining place when Wade is healthy.

  12. legend30 - Dec 19, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    Great game! I’m attending to the next two Heat games against the Kings and Hawks. #HeatNation #SouthFlorida

    See you in March, Pacers.

  13. fnf417 - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:08 AM

    I believe Indiana was down by more at home and came back and won by a larger margin this series will come down to who has home court advantage

    • bougin89 - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:23 AM

      Bingo. If the Heat get home court advantage maybe the Pacers can take them to a game 7 again but I don’t think they will be able to actually take the series.

  14. pistolpete0903 - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:20 AM

    Don’t have a dog in this fight. My 2 cents
    1) Miami will be exposed (and is) by big front lines (could be problematic come playoff time when teams can just focus on one opponent). Detroit gave them fits; would like to see how their season series against Indy goes. I don’t read too much in regular season games; however they do provide a barometer. I am sure Riley is shopping for some big bodies.
    2) Take out Paul George and Indy has problems w/ball handling. Their bread and butter is giving the ball to Hibbert (also West is playng well for is age); however at some point they are going to need Granger (when he comes back) play at a superior level. I can see Pritchard making a push for a good PG (Bledsoe?)
    3) Horrendous foul called on Hibbert (his 4th); also how did the refs miss the foul on Paul george at the end of the game!!!!

  15. jtbsteeler - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    Pacer fans,

    You will not win a championship with George Hill at the point. He looks like a scared rabbit and plays like one. I thought Larry Bird and Vogel saw this last year.

  16. jbeagles23 - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    Hill is not an nba starting pg

  17. marquis4401 - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Neither is Mario Chalmers.

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