HEAT 110 - Pacers 103 Recap

The Miami HEAT had one of their greatest quarters of the season Tuesday night, outscoring the Indiana Pacers 41-19 in the opening stanza. But they could not sustain the spectacular as the Pacers won the next two quarters behind 53 bench points to take a one-point lead headed into the fourth.

The HEAT pulled away to win, 110-103, but it took a return to the mundane to get there.

Featuring one of the plays of the season – a 90-foot alley-oop pass from Dwyane Wade to LeBron James – the first quarter was dominated by Wade. Within the first six minutes, he had five layups and two more buckets in the paint to his name as he relentlessly attacked off the dribble. Once the thrashing was done, he had 22 points and the HEAT led by just as much.

“It was amazing. That’s part of the reason why he’s D-Wade,” James said. “We saw him get going early and we just kept giving him the ball.”

The key, however, may not have been Wade’s scoring, but where the scoring was coming from. In their past two games against the HEAT, Indiana has thrived on quick outlets off misses, getting shots up before Miami could set its defense. The more Wade attacked, the more jumbled things got underneath the rim, slowing things down and forcing the Pacers to execute in the halfcourt.

In the second quarter, the opposite was true on all fronts. With things coming so easily in the first quarter, the HEAT got away from the offensive variety that had served them so well in the weeks prior. Those layups became jumpers, the makes became misses, and the misses gave an already-energetic Pacers bench life.

“We had a mental lapse. We can’t have that,” Wade said.

Indiana got to running, and with Miami shooting early in the shot clock, the Pacers had no shortage of possessions or opportunities. Eventually, even the primary help rotations suffered and the HEAT backpedaled into a four-point lead entering the break despite Wade’s 31 points.

“We’re just having one quarter a game where that team just takes us out of what we do,” James said.

“We have lapses sometimes, that comes from us not always maintaining our focus. We just know we got to always be in tune with a game plan.”

The same inconsistencies plagued the HEAT through the third quarter, the worst sequence being nine seconds when Paul George dropped in a three, and then a poor inbounds pass from Miami was stolen, the ball getting to Danny Granger in the same spot for another triple. Miami’s scoring normalized and the jumpers began to fall again, but they were surviving on talent, not thriving on execution.

“That was not the case in that fourth quarter, when we were into the fight, into the scrum,” Erik Spoelstra said.

In the final period, Miami slowed the game down and went to its three-man corner offense with Wade, James and Chris Bosh. The ball began to move again, Indiana’s transition opportunities were minimized and 6-0 burst in the final four minutes – a James layup assisted by Bosh, a James putback and two James free throws – put the game in hand. Bosh and James combined for 19 points in the quarter and Wade finished with 41.

In the end, the HEAT earned the win by playing together and correcting their mistakes. But second quarters like the one against Indiana can end a season prematurely in the playoffs, and that stretch was on everyone’s mind despite the win.

“We are arguably one of the best fourth quarter teams in the league. I don’t debate that. Our competitive will is unusual,” Spoelstra said.

“With that said. We need to push for a championship level consistency.”