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Heat rallies in second half to take 2-1 lead on Pacers

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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MIAMI — When Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade hit consecutive 3-pointers — a rarity for him — the Indiana Pacers might have sensed they were in trouble.

When Pacers center Roy Hibbert scored 10 points in the first quarter but just six after that, it wasn’t a good sign for Indiana, either.

And by the time Heat guard Ray Allen started pumping in 3-pointers in rapid succession — 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter — the Pacers had to know it was over.

So it went on Saturday night, as the Heat overcame a 15-point first-half deficit to beat the Pacers 99-87 at AmericanAirlines Arena and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.

The Heat is 6-0 at home in the postseason and gets another game in its arena on Monday night. The Pacers had their five-game road winning streak snapped.

Miami forward LeBron James scored 26 points and Wade finished with 23 after a scoreless first quarter. James sat out the start of the fourth quarter due to leg cramps, but he returned within three minutes.

Allen scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as Miami outscored Indiana 28-23.

“We want to move their defense from side to side,” James said. “When we do that, we open up the lane. And when our shooters get going, it adds even more space, as you saw in the fourth quarter.”

Pacers forward Paul George, who suffered a concussion Tuesday when he was accidentally kicked in the head by Wade, scored 17 points Saturday. Forward David West added 13 points, and guard Lance Stephenson had 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

“I don’t think we were sharp enough, particularly in this building, to get a win,” West said. “We tried to make an emphasis of getting the ball inside early, and I thought we did a good job of that. But we didn’t stick with it.

“We got away from ourselves. We tried to make some stuff up on the fly, which is not us.”

Miami used an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the game with 7:36 left in the third quarter, moving ahead 52-51 on a dunk by James. Miami outscored Indiana 33-22 in the third to take a 71-64 lead. Miami shot 73.3 percent in the quarter while Indiana made just 36.8 percent.

Wade hit his 3-pointers — one to end the third quarter and one to start the fourth — within 23 seconds of each other. He has now made just four 3-pointers for the entire playoffs.

Indiana led by as many as 14 points early. But Miami closed with a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 21-14 after the first quarter.

The Heat was sloppy, committing seven turnovers and shooting just 37.5 percent in the quarter. The Pacers shot 56.3 percent with four turnovers and won the paint-points battle, 14-8.

“We looked like we were stuck in the mud in the first quarter,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We can’t play this series on their terms.”

The Pacers led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, but the Heat cut the deficit to 42-38 at halftime. Wade, held scoreless in the first quarter, ended the half with eight points.

The other statistics turned around, too. The Heat shot 60 percent and had four turnovers in the second quarter. The Pacers had eight turnovers, and Hibbert, who had 10 points in the first quarter, went scoreless.

“I was moving and getting in my sweet spots,” Hibbert said of his early results. “But it’s a long game, and I wasn’t as effective as I wanted to be in the second half. … The opportunities were there, but I have to finish better.”

NOTES: Two reserve point guards — Indiana’s C.J. Watson and Miami’s Norris Cole — were issued technical fouls for their minor skirmish in the first quarter. … The Heat activated C Greg Oden for the first time since the opening series against Charlotte. He did not play, however, and has not played a playoff game since 2009. … Heat F Michael Beasley was a healthy scratch. … Heat coach Erik Spoelstra “hates that rule” that only 13 of the 15 players on a roster are allowed to be active each game. It sometimes forces healthy scratches. “I’d like to have everyone available,” he said. … Heat F Udonis Haslem started his second straight game. F Shane Battier got the start ahead of him in the opener of the series. … F Paul George said his Pacers would have won Game 2 had he not suffered a concussion.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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