If the Pacers needed a signature win in front of the home crowd to certify their status as a rising power in the Eastern Conference, they got it Monday.
Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Pacers went on the attack from the opening tip and did not relent on their way to a 105-90 victory over the Miami Heat before a crowd of 17,415 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Point guard Darren Collison set the tone, using his speed to put constant strain on Miami's transition defense while harassing the Heat's offense with ball pressure and scoring 20 points with four steals in one of his best all-around games with the Pacers. Danny Granger made a number of key shots and scored 25. All five starters scored in double figures for the Pacers.
Indiana snapped a five-game losing streak to Miami and improved to 29-19 overall, while the Heat lost its second in a row and sixth of eight on the road to fall to 35-13.
BY THE NUMBERS
Granger shot 8-of-19, adding nine rebounds and three assists to his 25 points. Collison shot 7-of-12 with three assists and three rebounds. Paul George had 16 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Leandro Barbosa scored 14 off the bench. Roy Hibbert had 11 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, and David West had 10 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. The Pacers shot 46 percent, dominated the board 49-33 and had 20 assists.
LeBron James scored 24 on 9-of-21 shooting for Miami, adding nine rebounds. Dwyane Wade scored 24 on 7-of-16 shooting, adding six assists and five rebounds. Power forward Chris Bosh scored 14 with two rebounds and point guard Mario Chalmers had 13 points and one assists. Miami had more turnovers (17) than assists (11 and shot 42 percent.
"We’re very excited about the win. It’s huge. We obviously felt we outplayed them down there, especially after the first two games were all Heat. You learn lessons by competing even if you don’t win sometimes. Our guys had a determination that they weren’t going to be denied tonight." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
"Darren Collison set the tone for us at both ends. His speed is a weapon and it makes him very difficult to guard. We’re getting strong play out of our point guard position." - Vogel
"What Leandro Barbosa brings to the table is something we haven’t had all year. We feel we improved dramatically with the trade." - Vogel
"My teammates have really helped me and I feed off of energy and their boost. I need to keep working because I still know I have a lot to learn. I work hard on the defensive end because I know that will turn into offense. Having George Hill behind me has really helped. We feed off of each other. The other night it was George’s night, tonight it was mine. I am trying to be the leader and to keep this team going in the right direction." - Collison
"Not only was it a big win for us, but it shows us that not only can we play with them, but we can beat them. We must build on this and continue to show what we did tonight. Big win." - George
"You’re going to win some basketball games when you hammer people like that." - West on the 49-33 rebounding margin
"They’re a team that’s getting better. They made a lot of moves in the offseason and it takes time for that to come together. We’ve played them four times, so they’ve had a chance to figure us out. And you figure that they’re going to get us one of those times. They play physical all the time. Turnovers were the difference in the third quarter and Barbosa came in and made a lot of shots for them off the bench." - Wade on the Pacers
STAT OF THE GAME
In the Pacers' last nine wins, they have outrebounded opponents by 82 overall, an average of 9.1 per game. In their last seven losses, they have been outrebounded by 58 overall, an average of 8.3 per game.
Barbosa electrified the crowd by scoring 12 in a row for the Pacers, three 3-pointers and a three-point play, the latter putting Indiana up 87-73 with 8:33 remaining. Miami cut it to 96-87 on a Mario Chalmers bucket with 5:07 remaining and had a chance to get closer after James stole the inbounds pass. But the potentially critical possession went nowhere and wound up producing an awkward baseline airball by Wade.
Granger was fouled on a 3-pointer, making all three, and George drove for another hoop and the Pacers' lead was back to 101-87 with 3:37 remaining. There would be no more Miami challenges.
After closing the first half with a flourish, the Pacers picked up where they left off, scoring the first seven points out of the second half to take a 56-46 lead on a George 3-pointer. James and Wade brought Miami right back with nine unanswered points to cut it to 59-58.
At this critical point in the game, the Pacers did not yield to Miami's momentum. Instead, they took it right back with another surge of their own. With Collison keeping constant pressure on the Heat's transition defense, the Pacers managed a 12-2 run to make it 71-60 and a Barbosa 3-pointer sent them into the fourth quarter with a 78-65 lead.
Neither team enjoyed much breathing room in the first half. The Pacers started hot and built a 17-9 lead but Miami answered with a 12-1 run, with James scoring eight, to take a 29-24 lead early in the second. The Pacers scored five in a row to tie it and it remained close. The Pacers closed with a flourish as Hibbert dunked, and then Collison stole the inbounds pass for another bucket. George then closed the half by heaving in a 39-foot 3-pointer just ahead of the buzzer to send the Pacers into the locker room with a 49-46 lead.
Dahntay Jones picked up an early flagrant foul in the first quarter when he came down hard on James. It was just the second of the season called on a Pacers player. … A video tribute to Jeff Foster drew a standing ovation from the crowd during a second quarter timeout. Foster was forced to retire last week due to chronic back problems. … Hansbrough was wearing a mask to protect a broken nose and cheekbone. The injuries were the result of an elbow to the face by former teammate Mike Dunleavy Saturday in Milwaukee. Dunleavy was given a Flagrant Foul (type one) for the contact above the shoulders. Hansbrough had to wear goggles earlier this season after sustaining a scratched cornea. … Both teams wore Hardwood Classics ABA throwback uniforms, with the Heat representing the Miami Floridians.
The Pacers travel to New Jersey to face the Nets Wednesday (7:30, Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93 FM). This is the final meeting between the teams and Indiana will be going for the series sweep, having won the first three games by an average of 13 points. This will be the first look at the Nets since they acquired Gerald Wallace from Portland for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a 2012 protected first round pick.