Miami Heat 98, Indiana Pacers 86
LeBron James: A+
11-20 FG (2-4 3FG), 6 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 36 points
LeBron helped the Heat run away with the lead with 14 points in the third quarter. He was an aggressive scorer from the tip, though he settled for jump shots early. He came out in the second half clearly wanting to get to the rim. On one particular play in the fourth quarter, the Heat cleared out the left side for LeBron, who was covered by Paul George. He took on George, went to the rim and put a shot up over Roy Hibbert. That’s good to see.
5-7 FG, 9 rebounds, plus-24 +/-, 11 points
Haslem was playing to his fan-favorite level tonight, keeping Hibbert off the boards (Hibbert didn’t get his first rebound until 2:19 left in the game) and out of the paint. He was scoring when the ball came to him, shooting efficiently and intelligently. On one play, he recognized a George Hill mismatch and drained a midrange jumper, despite Hill being on his hip. He drew charges and challenged David West. He is the grit the Heat need when facing the Pacers.
6-14 FG (1-2 3FG), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 13 points
Chalmers played a great game, despite getting off to a rough shooting start. He and LeBron set the tempo by being aggressive and getting to the rim. He also had a key steal in the final period that led to a score by Rashard Lewis that helped seal the game for the Heat, even though Sun Sports screwed up the camera angle so we couldn’t see it.
3-3 FG (1-1 3FG), 1 rebound, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 7 points
Starting again in place of Dwyane Wade, Douglas is getting more and more comfortable with everything the Heat do. He has taken fans from “please don’t screw up” mode to “let’s see what TD can do” mode. On one defensive possession, Douglas played off Hill (as you do) and baited the pass and steal. Douglas took the steal the other way and, with LeBron trailing, played Paul George with the hesitation and layup.
Miami Heat: A+
35-75 (6-16 3FG), 22-28 FT, 40 rebounds to Indiana’s 31, 14 assists to Indiana’s 20, 9 turnovers to Indiana’s 16
The Heat played one its best games of the season to retake the top seed in the Eastern Conference by tying the season series at 2-2 and leaping Indiana in the loss column. Miami’s play0ff intensity was there, rotating and closing hard on defense, going for steals and transition points and being aggressive, yet efficient, on offense. The Pacers host the Oklahoma City Thunder and then travel to the Orlando Magic to close the season. The Heat travel to the Atlanta Hawks, then to the Washington Wizards and close the season by hosting the Philadelphia 76ers.