After a four-day break between games, the Pacers had hoped a trip to play an injury-plagued Miami Heat squad would bring good fortunes.
However, the Heat quickly quelled that notion.
Miami (19-13) drilled 22 3-point shots — 11 from Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro — and limited Indiana (13-19) to a season-low 35.6 percent shooting to win 125-96 in dominant fashion. The hosts used a late first-quarter run to take a lead and never look back. Appearing rusty, the Blue & Gold never made a significant run after the hosts pulled away.
"I feel like we didn’t come out with the energy that we needed to play (with) today," said Domantas Sabonis (12 points, four rebounds). "We had a tough night shooting. That hurt, and it just all added up."
In all, four Pacers finished in double figures. Chris Duarte looked the most impressive, finishing with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep. Caris LeVert also tallied 17 but shot 4-of-15 from the floor. Oshae Brissett added 14 off the bench. Robinson and Herro had 26 apiece to lead Miami during their 3-point parade.
"They just played better than we did from start to finish," LeVert said plainly.
With the Heat short on centers, the Pacers attacked the paint early to earn a small first-quarter lead. Myles Turner (nine points, seven rebounds, two blocks) and Sabonis accounted for six of the squad's first nine points. Justin Holiday’s jumper from just behind the free-throw line then gave the squad an 11-6 lead with 8:07 remaining.
However, Miami stuck around due to their sharpshooters. The hosts’ first five buckets of the game were from 3-point range, including a rare make from center Dewayne Dedmon that pushed the Heat in front, 15-13, at the 6:41 mark.
With Indiana leading 16-15, Miami rattled off an 11-2 run over a 4:01 span to extend the gap to eight with 2:24 to play. KZ Okpala's cutting layup with 1:59 remaining pushed the hosts ahead by double digits for the first time. The Heat's seventh trey of the period, a 27-footer from Max Strus, pushed Miami ahead 33-21 as they entered the second.
Miami's lead continued to rise as the Pacers' defense appeared rusty. The Heat found eight easy points in the paint, and Tyler Herro added two triples to push the hosts' lead to 47-28 with 7:22 to play. On offense, the Blue & Gold had issues finding spaces in Miami's zone defense — a theme spotted in the teams' previous matchup on Dec. 3.
Things only got worse for the Blue & Gold as the period ticked past the halfway mark. Backup center Omer Yurtseven used five quick points to push the Heat’s lead to 20 twice. With 4:28 remaining, Duncan Robinson nailed another triple to extend it to 55-32.
Down the stretch, the story remained the same. LeVert's layup with 17.1 seconds remaining gave Indiana a chance to go into halftime with some life. However, Kyle Lowry was fouled with 0.5 seconds left. He sank both free throws to send the Blue & Gold into halftime down 68-45.
After the squads traded two triples apiece, Turner and Holiday managed four points to cut the deficit to 74-55 with 7:51 remaining in the third. Despite the Heat continuing to find offensive success, a pair of threes from Duarte and LeVert continued to give the Pacers a glimmer of hope. The duo soon trimmed the deficit to 79-61 with 5:58 left.
But as Indiana warmed up, Miami continued to be lethal from deep. Strus and Robinson teamed up for two more long balls quickly to push their lead back to 21.
From there, the Heat regained control of the game easily. After Sabonis' three-point play gave the game an 85-67 score, Miami rattled off 11 straight in 2:33 to jump ahead 96-67. Points came in various ways for the Heat, as they broke down Indiana's defense in all areas of the court. Herro's jumper with 10.4 seconds remaining in the frame gave the Heat a 98-69 advantage heading into the fourth.
The Pacers started the final frame with seven unanswered to cut the deficit to 98-76 with 10:15 to play. But Miami responded with eight straight, including two more triples from Herro, to extend the lead to 30 for the first time. The spree officially slammed the door shut on any miraculous comeback for the Blue & Gold.
In positive news, the blowout gave Pacers rookie Isaiah Jackson extended playing time. With 8:18 left, he snagged an offensive rebound and a putback bucket, showing his perseverance in the paint. He finished with six points, four rebounds, and a steal.
Meanwhile, the Heat allowed 41-year-old Udonis Haslem to log some minutes for the squad. The NBA's oldest active player entered with a loud cheer from the crowd, as the hosts easily cruised to the win.
Inside the Numbers
Indiana lost the rebounding battle, 53-42. The Heat hauled in 15 offensive rebounds for 19 second-chance points.
The Pacers shot 17-for-49 in the paint while Miami connected on 23 of their 40 attempts.
The Blue & Gold shot worse than 40 percent for just the fifth time this season. It was the first time they have shot worse than 39 percent.
You Can Quote Me On That
"They're probably the best in the league at generating 3-point looks. And they have three or four guys that have an uncanny knack of making difficult ones. (Duncan) Robinson rises up, (Gabe) Vincent can create them one-on-one, and (Max) Strus is having a really hot ten days here." – Carlisle on the Pacers' difficulties defending the perimeter
"Shorthanded or not, it's NBA players. I think that needs to be said. Those guys played extremely hard. They're very deserving of their minutes. And they played well tonight. They played better than we did. Regardless of who's out there – playing against the Miami Heat – you know what comes with that." –LeVert on Miami's performance
Stat of the Night
The Heat tied their season and franchise-high with 22 made 3-point attempts. It was the third time this season Miami has made more than 20 triples in a game.
- Malcolm Brogdon exited the game early in the first quarter after aggravating his sore right Achilles.
- With the win, Miami takes the regular-season series, 2-1.
- Indiana falls to 3-12 on the road this season.
The Pacers will host the Houston Rockets in their final game before Christmas on Thursday, Dec. 23 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »