In the NBA’s newest version of the “it” rivalry, the Heat defeated the Pacers 97-94, in a thrilling contest to improve to 19-6.
For the Heat, Dwyane Wade led the way with 32 points. LeBron James finished with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Chris Bosh pitched in 15 points and 8 rebounds.
For the Pacers, Paul George scored 25 points, along with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. David West added 23 points. Lance Stephenson finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds.
KEY STATS: Miami Heat: 48% FG, 81% FT, 37 REBS, 21 ASTS, 11 STLS ; Indiana Pacers: 43% FG, 89% FT, 36 REBS, 9 STLS
This game started off as bad as it possibly could for the Heat, as Bosh and James each were in early foul trouble as the Heat fell behind in the first quarter. James’ foul trouble carried into the 2nd quarter, and was countered by Roy Hibbert’s foul trouble for the Pacers. The Heat had trouble keeping the Pacers off the offensive glass, and couldn’t score on their own end. Despite forcing plenty of Indiana turnovers in the 1st half, the Heat still found themselves in a 11-point hole at halftime. Miami got a sliver of luck as Hibbert picked up his 4th and 5th fouls early in the 3rd quarter, and began to chip away at the lead by penetrating the paint.
The Heat tied the game up on a Chris Bosh 3-pointer with 1:30 remaining in the game. They regained the lead after a Ray Allen 3-pointer with 1:00 remaining and held on from there. The game ended on a controversial 3-point attempt from George that was off, but replay showed that contact may have been made with George by James.
This was a great game to see the Heat grind out and win. The Pacers have been gunning for the Heat all season long to this point, and felt they had the upper hand on the defending champions. This type of win is one that has a major impact for the remainder of the season.
The Heat’s next game will be Friday night against the new-look Sacramento Kings (7-17). The tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 pm.
Including the Kings, Miami has two home games before the holidays, but’s not too early to think about Heat basketball on Christmas Day. Miami will be in LA, and you can get Lakers tickets here.