Mike Dunleavy missed his first three shots early in the first quarter as his game appeared stuck in preseason mode.
Then midway through the first quarter - bang!
Dun drew a "Boom, Baby!" from Slick on a 3-ball and went on to finish the night shooting 10-15 from the floor including 4-8 from 3-land for a breakout, 30-point game. After making that first bomb, Dun went to work inside, making buckets around the rim and going to the line which really put him in a nice shooting rhythm. Suddenly he was on fire from all over the court, scored 18 second-quarter points and finished the half with 23.
At the other end of the floor, the Pacers made the Heat work for buckets most of the night. The defense combined with a heavy dose of 3-balls on offense to produce a rare, stress-free finish and 114-103 win. The win was the Pacers' seventh straight at the Fieldhouse. It was also a head-shaking 13th straight home win over the Heat.
For the Pacers, the key to cruising through the second half with a double-digit lead was taking care of business in the second quarter. After the Pacers pushed the lead to 15 midway through the second, the Heat surged back and had the deficit down to eight with 3:44 left in the half. From there, Dunleavy nuked the Heat for 14 points and when T.J. Ford dropped a little floater at the buzzer, the Pacers lead at the half was 17.
T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack led the way in the third quarter as the Pacers avoided their normal let down after the half and even extended the lead heading into the fourth. A relentless 3-ball assault never let the Heat mount a comeback to make things interesting. This was a 17 to 20-point game most of the night and only appears closer thanks to a late 8-0 run by the Heat after both coaches cleared their benches late in the game.
A few more thoughts on the win:
- The Heat shot 48% compared to the Pacers' 42.5% but the difference was made up by the Pacers making five more 3-balls and 10 more free throws. The way the threes were flying in at one point, I thought maybe they should save a couple for the Knicks tomorrow night.
- Dwyane Wade "only" scored 24 points as he was never able to get any real offensive flow going. He only made it to the line eight times and missed four of those eight attempts.
- The Heat struggled to get their offense going, no doubt held back by rookie PG Mario Chalmers who fouled out after only playing 12 minutes.
- Danny Granger was honored with a nice pre-game ceremony for his All-Star selection. He came out and scored 15 first half points but appeared to struggle with his knee as the night wore on. Granger finished with 19 points and had a couple of nice assists off drives to the bucket in the second half. After the game, he admitted it was hurting him and he was unsure if he'd be able to go against the Knicks.
- Several Pacers stepped up and played big tonight. None more than Maceo Baston. After playing in the previous four games, Baston looked more comfortable in his role and his ability to scrap on defense and the boards was huge tonight. He also cleaned up a few buckets as his defender often left him open trying to help. Baston finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
- Jarrett Jack had an efficient night scoring 15 points on nine shots with only one turnover. Troy Murphy had a 19-12 double-double and made 5 of 6 3-balls. T.J. Ford came off the bench and finished with 12 points and also, only one turnover. Ford and Jack started the second half together and made the Pacers go in the third quarter.
- Udonis Haslem had a short night after gathering a double-technical with three minutes left in the first quarter. It was that kind of night for the Heat.
- The Heat found some offense from Mark Blount who finished with a season-high 17 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and even made a couple of threes. If I didn't know better, I'd think the Heat were showcasing Blount for the trade deadline.
- The Pacers defense played real well in certain stretches tonight. In particular, a second quarter unit manned by Dunleavy, Granger, T.J., Quisy and Murphy was real active and stingy.