Indiana Pacers (19-3) 90
Miami Heat (16-6) 84
It might have taken the second half. It might have taken huge games from Roy Hibbert and David West. It might have taken playing through some bad officiating, but the Indiana Pacers pulled it off. They get a win over the two time defending champions and the team that’s knocked them out twice in the playoffs, the Miami Heat. Everyone will say this was just another game, but that atmosphere proved otherwise.
I know for myself this wouldn’t be just another game. You knew the Heat wanted to come out and win this one a bit more than they were letting on by the way they performed in that first half. They built up a lead of 13 at one point and were generally outplaying the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers, themselves, hurt their cause with turnovers and just not at their pace of the game.
Things turned around in the Pacers’ favor in that second half like it has done in most of the games this season. How about to the tune of 28-17 in that third quarter? How many times have we seen the Pacers only those type of numbers in the third and fourth quarter?
The momentum changer was helped with the three point play by Lance Stephenson at the end of the second quarter. He might not have had a big night, but he played hard enough to get things done. I mentioned Roy Hibbert, who did have a big night. 24 points on 15 shots is impressive. There wasn’t much the Heat could do to stop Hibbert in the middle, which is something the Pacers should continue to do next time these teams play. Oh yea, that’s in 8 days in Miami.
David West was solid as well with his 17 points. Those two guys were the advantage the Pacers needed to use to get this game in their hands. They used them, and now they’ll have to figure out how to continue to use them as that should be a way to beat the Heat.
Paul George looked to really want this one as he did struggle in the first half, but came alive in that second half and finished with his own 17 points. Playing tough defense on Lebron James most of the way is never easy, but he slowed down James enough that he scored 9 points over the final 36 minutes. Just think there’s 48 minutes in a game. That ought to tell you how much defensive prowess was out there on Lebron James.
This might just be another win, but to me, it’s a bit sweeter than most wins. It just felt like a playoff game, and we’re only in December. Then, we’ll see these teams battle it out soon enough. I’ve said before, let’s fast forward to the playoffs, but right now, we can enjoy a playoff battle in the regular season.