GAME RECAP: Heat 122, Pacers 108

Miami gets the victory against Indiana Bam Adebayo leads the Heat with 18 points and 9 rebounds, 122-108

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GAME RECAP: Heat 122, Pacers 108

Miami gets the victory against Indiana Bam Adebayo leads the Heat with 18 points and 9 rebounds, 122-108
Jan 8, 2020  |  00:01

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Jan. 8, 2020

January 8, 2020 - Pacers players Justin Holiday and Myles Turner spoke to the media following Indiana's 122-108 loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan 8, 2020  |  03:02

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - Jan. 8, 2020

Jan. 8, 2020 - Postgame Press Conference: Nate McMillan talks to the media following the Pacers' disappointing 108-122 loss to the Miami Heat Wednesday night.
Jan 8, 2020  |  04:43

Domas Slams in Transition

Indy gets the steal leading to the fastbreak and dunk from Domantas Sabonis.
Jan 8, 2020  |  00:10

Justin Hits Three Plus The Whistle

Justin Holiday hits the three pointer from the winger with the defender on his hip to earn the four point opportunity.
Jan 8, 2020  |  00:09

Sampson Takes It Up Strong

JaKarr Sampson rolls to the basket and finishes at the hoop through contact.
Jan 8, 2020  |  00:09

Lamb Connects on Sideline Three

Jeremy Lamb spots up from the sideline to connect on his second of back-to-back three pointers.
Jan 8, 2020  |  00:09

Sabonis and McConnell Two-Man Game

Domantas Sabonis and T.J. McConnell run the pick-&-roll give-&-go for a McConnell layup at the rim.
Jan 8, 2020  |  00:09

Sumner Gets Out On The Break

Domantas Sabonis snags the defensive rebound to start the fastbreak, leading to a finish by Edmond Sumner on the offensive end.
Jan 8, 2020  |  00:09

Myles Finds Justin Under the Basket

Myles Turner dishes to Justin Holiday under the basket for the and-one opportunity.
Jan 8, 2020  |  00:09

McMillan Looking for a Higher Level

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

The shining gem amid the landslide was that Domantas Sabonis scored 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for his 30th double-double of the season, matching his total for all of last season.

Now the trick for the Pacers, aside from getting their starting backcourt into the games, is to have more players rise to that level of consistent intensity. Because when they don't, they get beat like they did on Wednesday when Miami put on a clinic of effort and execution at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers' 122-108 loss to the Heat was uglier than the score indicated, as they were down by as many as 31 points before scoring 36 after-the-fact points in the fourth quarter. It also marked the first time this season they've lost two consecutive games at home, following last week's 124-116 loss to Denver, and was their third defeat in the last four games.

There's little mystery behind the slump. Until last week they had gone 32 consecutive games without allowing an opponent to shoot 50 percent from the field, all the way back to the season's second game against Cleveland on Oct. 26. Now they've done it in each of the previous three losses. Miami shot 53.1 percent, a season-high for an opponent, despite hitting just 41 percent of its shots in the fourth quarter when two of its starters didn't play and another played less than three minutes.

"There's another level of intensity that we have to get to," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said.

"We didn't establish anything. They dominated from the start to the finish."

Miami (27-10) had lost its previous two road games to losing teams, Orlando and Washington, so coach Eric Spoelstra had made that a point of emphasis heading into this one. "We're mediocre on the road," he told reporters before the game, citing their 9-9 record away from home.

His team responded with an exceptionally non-mediocre performance that included seven players scoring between 14 and 19 points. And it was the one who scored 14 points, Jimmy Butler, who might have had the greatest impact.

Butler is the Heat's leader, a macho player who occasionally goes "too far" in the general view of things but instills an edge that has made it the surprise team of the NBA.

Pacers guard T.J. McConnell played with Butler last season in Philadelphia, and counts himself as a friend and admirer.

"He's never going to force the issue on offense," McConnell said of Butler, who hit 5-of-6 shots and had a game-high seven assists. "He's going to make the right play. That's why they've been so successful this year. He's been their anchor. Closes games out for them, defends teams' best players...I could go on and on.

"I'm glad to see him happy, just not at our expense."

Butler's emotional impact was most obvious midway through the third quarter. T.J. Warren, who had hit just 1-of-5 shots to that point after scoring a season-high 36 two nights earlier in Charlotte, fouled Butler by grabbing him by the arm to prevent him from getting to the basket for a layup. It was a routine intentional foul, but Butler chest-bumped him and began shouting. Warren didn't back down and the two had to be separated, with Butler shouting as he was pulled away.

Jimmy Butler

Photo Credit: Matt Kryger

After a review and an assessment of a double-technical foul, Butler took a pass at the 3-point line in front of the Pacers bench. Warren got into him aggressively, and Butler shoved him with his shoulder, earning an offensive foul. Warren walked toward Butler and clapped, which led to another technical foul and an automatic ejection. Butler blew kisses toward Warren but didn't get called for a technical.

"None of the officials saw that," McMillan said. "Both guys should have been ejected in that situation. Emotions are going to happen. We needed to see some fight, we needed to see some scrap."

The Pacers responded with consecutive 3-pointers from Aaron Holiday and Jeremy Lamb to close within 18 points and force a Miami timeout, but that was the extent of their comeback. Miami had the lead back to 26 moments later and the Pacers never threatened after that.

Warren had left the Pacers' locker room by the time media members arrived, as ejected players usually do, but Butler continued firing profanity-laced shots from the Miami locker room. He called Warren "soft," said "I ain't scared of nobody," and promised to dominate Warren "every time we play."

"He can't do nothing with me," Butler added. "When I say he's trash, I mean that. He's not in my league. I take it as disrespect if you ever put him on me."

Harsh words, but nothing for the Pacers to worry about at the moment. They have a season to redirect, and it starts with their sagging defense.

"A lot of that falls on me," said Myles Turner, who finished with nine points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. "Me being the presence on the defensive end that I am, I have to be able to rally my troops and get everybody going. I pride myself on my defense and I think it's starting to slip, as a team."

The Pacers, now 23-15, are in the midst of their most difficult month of their schedule. Seven of their next nine games are on the road and one of the home games is against Philadelphia, which is ahead of them in the standings.

The good news is that Malcolm Brogdon, who has played just eight minutes over the past seven games, could return for Friday's game at Chicago. He was listed as questionable for Wednesday's game. The even-better news is that Victor Oladipo has announced his intention to return on Jan. 29, when the Pacers play Chicago at The Fieldhouse.

Another breaking-in period will be required as adjustments are made and Oladipo shakes off the rust of a year-long layoff from game competition. But he offers the best hope for the Pacers to climb back into contention in the East.

That, and better defense.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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