The Heat were coming off of a disappointing loss in Oklahoma City on Sunday and the Pacers did them no favors right from the opening tip, jumping out to a 9-3 lead and letting the visitors know they were going to have to work for 48 minutes in this one.
The Heat bounced back from the early deficit to take a five point lead early in the second quarter but the game remained tight throughout the first half. The Pacers never showed signs of bowing to the Miami pressure and finished the second quarter with a flourish of big plays. Roy Hibbert threw down an alley oop pass from David West and then took a pass from Paul George and threw another one down hard right in the face of LeBron James.
Darren Collison took advantage of the chaos after Hibbert's dunk to steal the inbounds pass and get another hoop and then Paul George closed out the half by draining a shot from beyond halfcourt which sent the Fieldhouse into a frenzy.
Then the fun really started for the Pacers.
Darren Collison lit a fire under the Pacers and kept them running and applying pressure on the Heat to push the Pacers out to a double-digit lead. DC started it with a sweet, flying two-handed dunk and then ran through the Heat defense for layups on his way to scoring 11 of his 20 points in the third quarter.
From there the Pacers kept making plays and maintained enough of a lead to eventually see the Heat swapping loathsome stares with one another. What a beautiful sight.
Check out some more thoughts after the jump.
- Again, Collison finished with 20 points and four steals while playing through some odd-ball officiating. I think it is safe to say that DC is best when he's creating craziness in the open court instead of being bogged down in a half-court set. Obviously, he needs to do both but tonight was his night played on his terms and he was fabulous.
- Danny Granger was on point as well with 25 points which included a trio of three-balls and another big 3-point play after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt in the fourth quarter. I'm just as impressed with Granger's nine rebounds which included three on the offensive glass. He was really digging in to find the ball in that second half to help put the game away.
- The officiating deserves a little note as well. The foul numbers weren't horrible (Mia 24, Ind 29) but there were so many times the Pacers were hosed by superstar calls or flops. Probably the worst call was when Collison had just passed the ball to the wing and was cutting to the corner when Dwyane Wade ran out to the ball and literally ran over Collison. Somehow it was an offensive foul on DC. In the first half Dahntay Jones fouled LeBron James hard but the initial contact was on the ball. Flagrant for Dahntay. Fine. Then right after that Hansbrough is clobbered by two Heat players including in the head. Two shots. Can't help but think if that play was reversed the two Pacers players would've been tossed. At one point, Frank Vogel picked up a technical for telling his players to fall to the ground the next time Chalmers flopped, according to a Tweet from Mike Wells sitting courtside. Good stuff.
- Paul George hit the big momentum shot at the half but also hit a big three in the third quarter to put the Pacers up 10. George finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
- The Heat shrunk that initial 10 point lead to one in the third quarter but then Granger and Collison went to work to push the lead back to double-digits and they never looked back.
- The big fellas did work for the Pacers as well with Roy Hibbert adding 11 points and 9 rebounds and David West finishing with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Hibbert had the slam on LeBron but also stuffed one of his layup attempts in the third quarter that led to a Granger make at the other end as the Pacers started extending the lead for the second time in the third quarter.
- Leandro Barbosa scored 14 points in 14 minutes off the bench providing exactly what the Pacers hoped he could in a big game like this. Barbosa took over where Collison left off when he went to the bench late in the third quarter. He hit a pair of threes and then had a beautiful three-point play after curling and cutting to the hoop and then finishing a runner with the harm. Real nice.
- No doubt the Heat are hurting and are probably begging for the playoffs to start. Every time they tried to bully the Pacers to get back in the game Indiana was ready to fight back and they eventually went away quietly. Again, a beautiful sight.