Since NBA players normally work the night shift, a case of the blahs to start an afternoon game is understandable. That's how the Pacers started their New Year's Eve matinee with the Miami Heat, but Blue and Gold finished like they were playing in prime time, outscoring the Heat 64-44 in the second half to cruise to a 106-95 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
While the Pacers seemed engaged from the opening tip, they weren't on point. A half-step slow here, a beat slow rotating on defense there and the home team was chasing from behind much of the first half, and trailed by nine at the break after the Heat had a layup line going.
Miami outscored the Pacers 26-14 in the paint at the half, making 13 of 18 attempts in the painted area, but that would change.
Miami was 1 for 5 near the rim in the third quarter as the Pacers defense kept the area around the hoop clogged. The Heat started settling for jumpers and not making many. Meanwhile the Pacers were able to get it going, winning the third, 36-19 to take an eight-point lead to winning time.
The reserve unit once again finished the third strong, although David West played with the reserves instead of Luis Scola and had eight points and four rebounds, including a 3-pointer to end the quarter and cap off the comeback quarter.
Scola started the fourth quarter and the reserves pushed the lead to double digits. The starters then came in to close out the win, with a guest appearance by a sizzling C.J. Miles who finished the game with 25 points, with a dagger three (one of five for the game) which came after back-to-back threes by George Hill which sucked the what life remained out of the Heat.
Free throws killed the Pacers in their loss to the Bulls, but bolstered the winning effort against the Heat as they made 26 of 30 free throws. The Pacers also finished with just 12 turnovers which is pretty good considering they had nine of those donations at the half.
While Miles led the way on offense, George Hill gave a strong helping hand, making all four of his three-point shots to finish with 20 points.
Danny Granger received a polite ovation upon his return with Miami and scored 14 points off the bench for the Heat. Other than that, nothing special happened to mark his return to the Fieldhouse.
Well, for the Pacers, this win was special and also a nice way to send the calendar year of 2014, which was far from stellar for the team, in the rearview mirror.