That was brutal. That was likely the most physical game you will see all season long. The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat have not disappointed when they’ve met this season.
Tonight was no exception. The Pacers somehow managed to out do the Heat, pulling off the much needed 84-83 win.
It was physical, poorly officiated, and completely entertaining.
LeBron James was smacked across the face by Luis Scola. A few plays later Roy Hibbert took James’ elbow to the face, resulting in a flagrant foul. Hibbert took so many body shots he’ll need hours in an ice bath.
James played hero on a night when most of his team wasn’t a factor, leading all scorers with 38 points (and turning the ball over six times).
The Pacers took a four point lead off a David West three pointer with 50-seconds left to play. The Heat missed a three pointer and then West missed a mid-range jumper at the other end. Chris Bosh would drill a three to make it a one point game with 2-seconds left on the clock.
George Hill, who was a non-factor all night long, was fouled on the in-bounds but missed both free throws. Bosh had a chance to win the game, but left the jumper from just inside the arc short.
The Pacers only shot 37-percent from the field, but managed to force the Heat into 19 turnovers resulting in 26 points. They also hauled in 11 offensive rebounds. Indiana also had just 10 turnovers all night long.
Lance Stephenson received a technical early in the game when he got into a bit of a scuffle with Mario Chalmers. That would come back to hurt the Pacers as Stephenson would be ejected for “taunting” Dwayne Wade.
It was an absurd reason to eject someone, especially when all Stephenson said was an emphatic “What?” while staring down Wade. Wade initially laughed it off, but then tattled to the referee who was surrounded by complaining Miami players.
Stephenson left the game with 15 points off 50-percent shooting.
It looked like that would doom the Pacers, who saw a four point lead evaporate on one play. Evan Turner filled in for Stephenson and had two huge buckets to get the Pacers back in front. He even picked James’ pocket for a fast break that saw Wade come up lame with a pulled hamstring, and sending him to the bench.
Roy Hibbert opened up the game in typical “dominant-only-versus-Miami” fashion. He had destroyed Greg Oden on the low block, forcing the Heat to go with Udonis Haslem for most of the game. Hibbert finished with 21 points on 46-percent shooting.
Hibbert even played through the elbow to the face, despite taking a chunk out of his tongue.
Paul George led the Pacers with 24 points. He also had eight rebounds and four assists to go along with three steals. He played tight defense on James for most of the fourth quarter as well.
The bench once again let the team down, accounting for just 10 points all night long.
It can’t be understated just how big of a win this game was for the Pacers. It has been a rough stretch for Indiana lately, but tonight the Pacers looked like they found their love of basketball once again.
The Pacers will be back in action at Washington on Friday night to face the Wizards. The Pacers will see the Heat for the final time in the regular season on April 11th down in Miami.