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Furious comeback falls short against Big Three
By Conrad Brunner
Last week, LeBron James was enough.
This time, it took the combined efforts of the Big Three to put down another uprising by the Indiana Pacers.
Dwyane Wade scored 41 (the same number posted by James in the Heat's 117-112 comeback win last week), James 27 and Chris Bosh 22 – combining for 90 of Miami's 110 points in a seven-point victory over the Pacers before a raucous sellout crowd of 18,165 Tuesday in Conseco Fieldhouse.
After Miami bolted to a 24-point first-quarter lead behind Wade, the Pacers put forth a methodical comeback, fueled by the second unit, coming all the way back to take a 73-68 lead in the third quarter. Indiana was up 87-84 early in the fourth but couldn't hold off the Heat as the Big Three simply took over down the stretch.
Roy Hibbert led the Pacers with 18.
The Pacers lost for just the second time in nine games under Frank Vogel, both to the Heat, and dropped to 24-29 overall, 15-12 at home. Indiana had winning streaks of three overall and five at home snapped. Miami won for the ninth time in 10 games to improve to 40-15, 20-10 on the road and 28-2 against teams with sub-.500 records.
- “Very gutsy effort, very disappointed in the loss. I’m proud of our guys. They (the Heat) made a lot of plays down the stretch. Three All-stars, two MVPs, what is there to say. They brought their A effort. We took their punch and regained the lead. Up 20, down 20, we’ll keep coming after every team." – Vogel
- "When you have a team that has three All-Stars, Bosh, Wade and James, that make tough shots, tough plays and just know their way around the floor, you are going to have a hard time beating them." – Hibbert
- “We are not satisfied to come out and have near misses because we are here to win and it is very frustrating when we don’t. We are getting better and I think we’ll be ready for the playoffs.” – Pacers guard A.J. Price
- “We got off to a very, very slow start in the first quarter, but we were able to climb back in the game and once again it was a near miss." – Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough
- “They’re young and they play with outstanding, relentless energy for 48 minutes. … They were dominating all of those effort plays in the second quarter.” – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on the Pacers
- "This is a team, I guess, who has started to find its identity. They do a great job of pushing the pace and getting the shots they want. And they have the players who make them. I think the best thing for them has been the big guy (Hibbert) and how he’s helping down low.” – Wade on the Pacers
STAT OF THE GAME
Indiana's bench held a 53-14 scoring advantage over Miami Tuesday night. In three matchups this season, the total is 137-42.
As James did last week in Miami, Wade put on a show in the opening period, hitting his first eight shots on his way to 22 in the quarter as the Heat rocked the Pacers with a season-high 41-point period on 17-of-24 shooting. The Pacers missed 13 of 20 shots in the quarter and committed seven turnovers, trailing by as many as 24 (41-17).
But the second unit started the comeback with a 14-4 burst to open the second period sparked by a pair of 3-pointers from A.J. Price, and the Pacer closed the half with a 19-6 run to narrow the margin to 58-54 at the break. Miami shot 6-of-21 in the second quarter while the Pacers were 14-of-22.
Paul George started the second half in place of Mike Dunleavy and helped spark another big run, this time 17-4, that pushed the Pacers into a 73-68 lead. At that point, the Pacers had outscored the Heat 54-27 and held Miami to 11-of-35 shooting after the first quarter.
The game stayed close into the closing minutes, as Hibbert's post-up cut Miami's lead to 95-94 with 4:30 left but the Pacers would miss their next eight shots while the Heat put together a 13-4 run – eight points coming from James – to put it away.
BY THE NUMBERS
Hibbert shot 7-of-16 with seven rebounds, adding three assists and two blocks to his 18 points. Hansbrough scored 16 on 6-of-11 shooting, adding five rebounds off the bench. George scored 14 on 4-of-7 shooting including 3-of-4 from the 3-point line, adding five rebounds. Danny Granger shot just 5-of-13, 1-of-15 from the arc, but had nine rebounds and two steals to go with 14 points. Darren Collison had a nightmarish outing, missing his first 10 shots before a gimme dunk in the closing seconds. The Pacers shot .419 overall.
Wade cooled quite a bit after his torrid start, going 8-of-21 after hitting his first eight shots. He added 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals to his 41 points. James was 11-of-20 with six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and five turnovers. Bosh was 8-of-16 for 22 points with eight rebounds. The rest of the Heat combined to score 20 points on 8-of-23 shooting.
- The Pacers scored at least 100 points for the ninth straight game, tying the longest streak in the NBA this season.
- Indiana shot just 6-of-23 in the fourth quarter and in the last two games against Miami has gone 11-of-41 (.268) in the final period.
- Tonight's loss is the Pacers' second (7-2) under Frank Vogel and both have come at the hands of the Heat. The loss is Indiana's third in its last 11 games, overall
- The Pacers have scored 100+ points in nine straight games, their longest such streak since doing so in 14 straight games in December and January during the 2008-09 season.
- Dwyane Wade's 22 points in the first period are his quarter high this year and the fourth highest scoring quarter of his career. It is also one point shy of the HEAT franchise record for points in a first quarter.
- With 31 in the first 24 minutes, Wade tied the Heat's franchise record for points in a half set by Sherman Douglas in 1990 (at Denver, 12/27/90).
- Making his first appearance in 11 games, Brandon Rush scored three points on 1-1 from beyond the 3-pt arc in eight minutes tonight.
- After trailing by as many as 24 points in the first half, the Pacers headed to the fourth quarter with a one-point lead and tonight's loss is the team's 10th of the season (21-10) in a game in which it took a lead into the fourth quarter.
- Indiana was outscored in the paint tonight, 56-36, and Miami's total is the most scored against the Pacers this season. The Pacers have allowed the opposition 50+ points in the paint in two of the last five games.
- After starting the game 17-24 from the floor in the first quarter, the Heat shot just 26-64 (,406) over the remaining 36 minutes.
- The Pacers had just 12 turnovers tonight, their fewest of the last 10 games, and their third of less than 15 miscues in that 10-game stretch.
The Pacers play their final game before the All-Star break on Wednesday night in Detroit (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93 FM).