Well, that wasn't much fun to watch.
The Pacers appeared to catch a break with Dwyane Wade watching the game in a suit and tie, but LeBron James made up for Wade's absence and then some with 33 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds, doing whatever he wanted with little resistance from the Pacers. In fact, Bron might want to re-think the whole teaming up with superstars thing because he does pretty well carrying a team on his own.
As for the Pacers, they started the game on point, making shots and running stride-for-stride with the Heat. Paul George had 8 quick points, making a pair of 3-balls and it seemed like we were in for a doozy when the Pacers trailed 29-27 after the first quarter.
Well, it was a doozy alright although not the good kind and even in the first quarter there were signs of trouble ahead despite the tight play. The signature play that became a harbinger of pain to come started with LeBron making a strong drive to the hoop. Pacers forward Lou Amundson came over to put a hard foul on LeBron. Good play, deliver a little smashmouth ball and send a message.
One problem though: LeBron James is a beast. Instead of hammering James to the ground, Amundson hit LBJ and bounced off him of him, landing in a heap on the ground as James made the bucket and drew the whistle.
From there, the Pacers went on to lose the game in the second quarter when a series of head-scratching calls by the referees that even made David West lose his composure combined with poor offense and even worse shooting to leave the Pacers down 23 points at the half.
How bad was the shooting? Try one for 15 from the field for the quarter. How'd they ever make one?
The team's body language suddenly reeked of defeat as everything started going against them. After the lead balooned to 25 early in the third quarter, Darren Collison helped spark a rally and the Pacers actually cut the lead to 12 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Two minutes.
By the end of the third quarter the lead was back to 22 and the game was over. Pacers' will officially killed. On to Boston to pick up the pieces.
Check out a few other thoughts after the jump.
- With six players on the All-Star ballot it would've been hard to pick them out tonight. Danny Granger in particular looked nowhere near the part, putting up one of his pressing-too-much-shooting-too-poor-to-do-anything-right performances. DG made just 2 of 13 shots to end with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 4 turnonvers. Compare that to Miami's top player and, yeah, not a good night.
- Granger's woes highlighted an overall weak offensive effort from the Pacers. Far too much dribbling and hardly any sharing of the ball that worked so well in New Jersey. Why Granger and even Paul George end up handling the ball so much on the perimeter is a mystery? They both struggle making decisions with the ball when their primary move or shot is not there. The team ended up shooting 35% with just 12 assists.
- Looking for some positives on offense, I give Darren Collison some credit for battling in the third quarter and making plays to help the Pacers work their way back into the game. In fact, Collison left the floor when the lead was at 12 with two minutes left in the third quarter and things quickly went sideways. Hopefully Frank Vogel regrets that decision. In that time and score situation, DC should've played until he couldn't move.
- Roy Hibbert battled pretty well on the offensive end as well. In fact, Collison missed the big fella a couple of times in the post as he worked to get open. It wasn't all pretty for Roy, especially at the defensive end, but he did finish with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
- Tyler Hansbrough had a rough night following an exciting day that saw his name added to the All-Star ballot. Hansbrough found himself on the court during the micro-bursts of points by the Heat in the second and fourth quarters which left him with a +/- for the game of -43. Yikes. Hans couldn't get anything going until garbage time when he finally made a couple of field goals, but it was a long night.
- David West also had a long night doing battle against the Heat front court and refereeing injustice. West snapped in the second quarter when he was called for blocking James Jones from going to defend Paul George from an open dunk. Only problem was, George was open and dunking no matter what Jones did. In fact, West saved Jones from getting his mug on a poster. The play was there and over, but the refs decided to interject some flare into the game making a boisterous call to send the ball the other way. Ridiculous. This type of play happens a lot with no call. For instance, in the fourth quarter, Tyler Hansbrough was similarly blocked by the Heat forwards as Norris Cole took an identical baseline path, untouched for a reverse layup. Good play, no call. As it should be.
- Paul George was caught trying to do too much at times tonight and turned the ball over four times, but he had his moments at both ends of the floor. One of his best plays appeared to be a massive game-changer toward the end of the third quarter. The Heat just ginning up that late run and LeBron had the ball in the open court with one man, PG, to beat. No one stops LeBron in these situation as he usually ends up soaring in for an easy dunk. But PG held his ground and slow down LeBron and as James tried to find some Euro-step room he twisted his ankle on George's foot and then had his shot blocked. The great D and ankle tweak left James in a heap as though he'd blown out his knee. Then he started limping around like he had badly sprained ankle. Then...he finished the quarter less than a minute later with four more points and no apparent ankle issues. I think he was just stunned that he didn't get past PG on that drive.
- Nothing the Pacers tried work, including when they broke character and tried some zone defense, a common tactic used against the Heat. Although the zone usually works better with Dwyane Wade on the floor. Wade has only shot one three-pointer all year and LeBron has kept his game inside the arc this year as well. But when the Pacers were in a zone, sharp-shooter James Jones was on the floor...salivating. Jones made 4 of 8 three-pointers when left open for the game and Mario Chalmers joined in to make a couple of 3's, as well which turned the Pacers zone to mush.
- Jeff Foster was in uniform but did not play, which may have been the best decision the team made all night. He is hoping to take the floor in Boston. Also, Lance Stephenson sprained his ankle in the first half and did not return. This may open up a little burn for A.J. Price.
- Huge ups to IndyLaptops on College Ave. in Carmel for bringing my raggedy laptop back to life and getting me back in the game. Turned out to be the highlight of the day.