The lengthy layoff appeared to do the Indiana Pacers no good, returning to action for the first time since Thursday by getting blown by the Miami Heat on the road. The Pacers were a flat out embarrassment tonight, the latest such example, taking a healthy roster (sans the T.J.’s) against a heavily depleted Miami team and coming away with the same helpless result as the last meeting between the two teams.
The Pacers actually started fairly well, leading 11-6 early, but Miami’s three point shooting was a problem from the jump. Their first five field goals were threes, the last of those five putting the Heat on top 15-13. From there, it was off to the races for the home team. Miami let ‘er rip from deep all night, hitting 22 on the night, shooting an impressive 45.8% in the process.
If that were all the Pacers struggled with tonight, that’d be one thing, but they were beaten to a pulp in every single aspect of the game. They shot just 35%, completely befuddled by Miami’s zone and were simply outworked on the glass, allowing 15 offensive boards and losing the second chance battle 19-10.
They brought a bit of energy to the start of the second half despite trailing by 23, but an inability to finish on turnovers created made any potential comeback untenable. Chris Duarte led the offense in the third, but with each three he and the Pacers got to go, Miami was right there with a triple of their own.
Duarte finished with 17 points, getting there an efficient 5-7 and 3-4 from deep. Caris LeVert also had 17, but was just 4-15 in the process. The two combined for 11 free throw attempts, which was the only area of the game the Pacers found any consistent success, finishing 23-28 on the night.
Even with a 14-point advantage at the line, the Pacers still lost by 29, which put succinctly, ain’t great. That wasn’t helped at all by losing the points in the paint 46-34. Domantas Sabonis had just 12 points and four rebounds on the night, going a less-than-ideal 4-9 in the paint. The Pacers also lost Malcolm Brogdon early in this one with a sore Achilles, which only wound up further exacerbating an already exacerbated night for the Pacers.
The best thing Indiana did tonight was spread some holiday cheer for the Miami home fans, playing the jobber role to perfection in their season-worst loss. They drop to a lowly 3-12 on the road and really took a shot at that pesky positive point differential, dropping them to +0.6 on the year.