Game Rewind: Pacers 96, Heat 83
After allowing more than 120 points in three consecutive games, it was no secret around the halls of Bankers Life Fieldhouse that the Pacers wished to return to the punishing defensive mentality that allowed them to win 12 of 14 games over a recent stretch.
And on Friday night against the Miami Heat, the Pacers did just that, holding Miami to 83 points, and just 35 in the second half, as Indiana cruised to a 96-83 victory, which snapped a three-game losing streak for the Pacers.
“We locked in on the defensive end. We were able to get some stops and turn them into baskets,” Paul George explained. “It was neck-and-neck until (the fourth), and they couldn’t recover after.”
Although they got the win, it wasn’t exactly a work of art on the offensive end, which is no surprise given that Miami has one of the stingiest defenses in the NBA. The Pacers hit on just 6-of-28 3-point attempts, which included missing on their first nine attempts from beyond the arc.
Paul George, despite racking up 23 by the night’s end, was 7-of-17 from the field. He was, however, effective from the charity stripe, nailing 8-of-8 from the line. His running mate C.J. Miles, connected on just 1-of-10 from deep.
Perhaps most efficient and effective from the Pacers was center Ian Mahinmi, who scored a Pacers career-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, several of which were thunderous dunks that brought the packed house at the Fieldhouse to its feet. Mahinmi also grabbed 12 rebounds for the Blue & Gold.
“Offensively I felt like tonight we shared the ball and got a lot of good looks and that led us to get a win,” explained Mahinmi, who also added two steals. “It was a ‘get back on track’ kind of game.”
The win, which was Indiana’s ninth consecutive home win over Miami, was in jeopardy late in the fourth as the Heat — led by Dwyane Wade (20 points) and Chris Bosh (23 points) — attempted to mount a fourth-quarter comeback, cutting their deficit down to just six points with six minutes remaining. But timely buckets from Monta Ellis and George down the stretch opened the lead up once more, allowing Indiana to close out the double-digit win.
In the third quarter, the Pacers ended things on an Ellis-led tear. The first-year Pacers guard hit a floater in a lane, followed by a 3-pointer, then dished a dime to C.J. Miles to help Indiana close out the quarter on a 7-0 run that pushed the Pacers’ advantage to nine points.
“It was just one of those nights where I was feeling good,” Ellis said. “We needed this win. It was a total team effort.”
Just one point separated the Pacers and Heat in the first half, as the teams traded the lead nine times and each scored 27 points in the second frame. Indiana struggled to find its shooting touch from deep in the first half, hitting on just 3-of-16 attempts from behind the arc.
Paul George, who surpassed 5,000 points for his career with his first made bucket on Friday, scored the Pacers’ last seven points of the half, all via the free-throw line, to push the Pacers within one point at the break.
But in the second half, the defensive stops were the difference maker, as Indiana outscored the Heat 49-35, and finished off their Eastern Conference rival.
“As a whole, we got to the point where guys started getting into a rhythm and made some shots,” Miles explained. “The biggest thing we talked about was, defensively, we were going to have to find a way to clamp down. Tonight we put some stops together in a row.”
by Greg Rappaport