Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 84, Heat 83
Scott Agness | March 27, 2014 at 12:34 a.m.
Neither the Pacers nor the Miami Heat brought much momentum into their third meeting of the season Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Both teams had dropped seven of their past 12 games and had their share of problems. But a battle — and it was a physical test — brought out the best in the East’s top two teams in primetime showcase.
The Pacers (52-20) shot just 37 percent but they got consecutive stops to end the game, an 84-83 victory. With the win, the Pacers have clinched their second straight Central Division title.
With the Heat (48-22) in town for the final time during the regular season, the game was built up like a playoff game. There was an overflow of media on hand that provided all-day coverage, plus colored cards awaiting each fan at their seat that together revealed “BEAT THE HEAT.” Walking through Indiana’s locker room pregame, it was clear that it wasn’t just an ordinary game. They were mostly quiet, locked in and ready for an upcoming task — beat the defending champs, again.
Roy Hibbert propelled the Pacers to a sensational start. After managing just seven points total over the last two games, he equaled that total five minutes in and ended the period with a season-best 11 first-quarter points. They used 14-4 spurt to get up as many as nine and were ahead 23-17, their first time in five games with more than 19 points in the opening frame.
Lance Stephenson was the only Indiana player that had any kind of rhythm in the second quarter, where he scored nine of his 15 points. As the Heat shot 62 percent, the Pacers made just 29 percent of their shots in the quarter. Indiana was outscored by seven, and fought through a 10-0 run, and thus went into the half down by one, 45-44.
From the tip, emotions ran high and nearly cost the Pacers in the end. They led 76-72 with 5:01 to play after Lance Stephenson scored on consecutive possessions. But he got in the face of Miami’s Dwyane Wade and said something, costing him a technical. Problem was, he had already received one in the third quarter. So, Stephenson was sent to the locker room for the final stretch — though he admitted postgame that he couldn’t bare to watch — and not on the court where his teammates needed him.
That left Evan Turner, who was getting his first-hand taste of this series, to fill in for Stephenson. Over the next two minutes, Miami scored eight unanswered to go ahead by four, but then Turner beat his defender on two straight trips down the floor to put the Pacers back in front with a pair of layups. 40 seconds later, after a LeBron James’ 3-point attempt was off the mark, David West sank one from 27 feet out. Chris Bosh hit a triple with two seconds left, drawing the Heat to within one, and then they fouled George Hill.
Hill stepped to the line and missed both, leaving the door open for the defending champions. Bosh got the ball but missed everything from the right side. The Pacers hung on, and in doing so hope they’ve been rejuvenated for the final push to the playoffs.
Inside the Numbers
Paul George led the Pacers with 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists. With 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, Roy Hibbert had his best offensive game of the month. David West, who had 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds, hit just 3-of-11 shots, but none was bigger than his 3-pointer with 50 seconds left.
LeBron James scored a game-high 38 points, his 25th game this season with at least 30 points. Dwyane Wade, who left the game in the final minutes due to a hamstring cramp, tallied 15. They were the only two Heat players to reach double figures, and they also had six turnovers each.
Greg Oden faced his hometown team for the second time in his career, and just the first since his rookie year on March 18, 2009. He was ineffective in six minutes, contributing just two points and a rebound.
Indiana failed to block a shot for the first time this season.
Entering tonight’s game, the Head were 12-0 this season when holding opponents below 90 points.
“I’m very proud of our effort to battle back a few different times, where it seemed like Miami was taking control of the game. We responded each time.” – Frank Vogel
“Evan Turner did a great job stepping in for Lance after he was ejected, and made two huge plays. Huge plays that we probably don’t win the game without.” – Frank Vogel
“I was just trying to make sure I had an impact on the game. That’s the biggest thing. When Lance got thrown out, coach just said, ‘Welcome to the rivalry. Get in there.’” – Evan Turner
“I’m a very emotional player. I just try to get my teammates hyped, get the crowd involved and I let my teammates down by doing that. I’m wrong.” – Lance Stephenson
“I think so. I think we kind of got our identity back. Going, playing inside and out, I thought Roy really opened this game for us tonight and really allowed us to play a tough brand of basketball.” – Paul George on whether they rediscovered themselves
“We have to keep building to continue to get better. We’ve had a lot of ups and down this season so hopefully this can be a continuation to something good for us.” – Roy Hibbert
“We’re just going to take it as a tough, tough win against a quality team. We’re not going to look to deep into it. Obviously, we knew what was at stake in terms of fighting for the top spot.” – David West
“It’s a confidence builder. Two teams who everyone said was struggling, but knowing that there’s no struggling when we always meet up. It’s going to be a hard fought playoff intensity and you have to tip your hat to the guys in this locker room to really sticking to it.” – George Hill
Stat of the Game
The Pacers, who committed just 12 turnovers themselves, scored 26 points off of the Heat’s 19 giveaways.
- Over the last two seasons, the Pacers are 6-1 against the Heat in Indianapolis.
- A double technical was handed out to Lance Stephenson and Dwyane Wade in the third quarter. LeBron James was whistled for a Flagrant-1 foul in the fourth and Stephenson received his second technical with 5:01 left in the game.
- For the second time in franchise history, the Pacers have won division titles in consecutive years. They have six division championships in team history.
- The Pacers introduced the use of Google Glass, a wearable technology, at home games.
The Pacers travel to Washington to take on the Wizards on Friday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Game Preview »