The Indiana Pacers focused on the Miami Heat when considering any offseason changes and how those changes might impact their chances to compete with the Heat. While it might not help against some other teams in the league, the Pacers appear to have a winning formula to beat LeBron James and the Heat as they scored 102-89 win for the second double-digit W of the .
At least at home...and in the regular season. Still, it was a 102-89 win, the second double-digit W for the Pacers against the Heat this season.
But, regardless of the circumstances, the Pacers stared down the Heat at every turn on Friday night and then pounded them. When the Miami tried to bully the Pacers, the home team didn't back down. Try to run? Stride for stride. Try to muscle? Nope.Try to intimidate? Pffft.
The end result left the Heat frustrated with four technical fouls and zero answers for knocking down a double-digit lead throughout the second half. David West anchored the effort with 30 points while fueling a big third quarter for the Pacers. After the game, George Hill referred to West as the team's "silent assassin" for his ability to always be an option. Paul George, Lance Stephenson or Hill may have their moments, but if they need a bucket West is there and if they are all off their offensive game, West has the ability to put up a big night like he did on Friday against the Heat.
But as impressive as West was, the continued emergence of Paul George and Lance Stephenson took another step in the right direction. LeBron James scored 28 but George was able to cover him all night without breaking down the rest of the defense. Stephenson stayed on the attack while playing step for step with Dwyane Wade. Last May, the Heat mocked Stephenson by asking who he was. Now they know the answer.
One third quarter play illustrated the young duo's willingness to lay it all on the line against Miami's two stars.
After Coach Spo picked up the third Heat technical, LeBron James was extremely aggressive as he began defending Paul George with the ball on the right wing. PG went through a couple of jab steps as LeBron bumped George and swiped at the ball. LBJ was hyper-engaged in the possession defensively. PG remained patient and put the ball on the floor, finishing with a fade away that splashed through the net leaving LeBron's effort in a puddle of sweat on the floor.
Just one of several moments in the second half when the Heat pushed the Pacers to see if they'd begin to fold and the Pacers simply pushed back and didn't budge. In fact, they looked down right comfortable taking it to the champs.
George Hill finished the game with 12 points and left late in the fourth quarter with an injured shoulder. As he left the court, Hill let his left arm go limp but was listed as day-to-day with a shoulder contusion, something he's dealt with before. With the shoulder wrapped up, Hill said he could play tomorrow if the Pacers had a game so he expects to be ready for the Chicago Bulls when they come to town on Monday.