The Indiana Pacers simply can’t play good basketball for more they a few moments at a time right now. Despite keeping the game close for a half, the Pacers came completely unglued in the third quarter.
The Heat rode a wave of turnovers and fast break points to a 98-86 win over Indiana, evening the season series at two apiece. With the way the Pacers are playing, it looks like a long shot for them to face the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Coach Frank Vogel felt that the third quart was the only thing standing between the Pacers and victory.
“I don’t think we played that bad other than the 3rd quarter,” Vogel said. “The 3rd quarter was too much to overcome.”
The Pacers were outscored 31-20 in the frame. Even despite a 22-17 second quarter, the Pacers at least kept the game close.
The Pacers would have to win their final two games ( vs Thunder, at Magic) to reclaim the number one seed in the East.
Despite shooting 51-percent in the first half, the Pacers coughed up the ball 10 times, leading to 10 points for the Heat. Indiana finished the game with 16 turnovers in all, spotting Miami 20 points.
The Pacers trailed by just three at halftime, but a 16-0 run to open up the third quarter put the game out of reach for Indiana. A CJ Watson three-pointer cut the lead to just nine at the start of the fourth, but Evan Turner picked up a frustration technical foul, sparking a 9-0 run to push Miami’s lead.
Watson was effective off the bench, scoring 10 points and getting a pair of steals. Luis Scola also gave the team solid minutes, scoring 12 points and hauling in five rebounds.
Paul George and David West both looked well rested after the week off, but the same can’t be said about the other three starters. Lance Stephenson was not his usual dynamic self while Roy Hibbert and George Hill were completely ineffective.
George led the team with 22 points off 7-of-17 shooting. He also had five rebounds, five assists, and a pair of steals. George struggled with his passing, often telegraphing his movements resulting in four turnovers.
West gave the Pacers 18 points. He also had eight rebounds but eventually fouled out of the game.
Stephenson finished with 11 points off an efficient 4-for-7 shooting night. He didn’t give the Pacers much more with four rebounds, three assists, and four turnovers.
Hill, like he often does against the Heat, was a passive participant tonight. He attempted zero shots and finished with four assists and two turnovers.
Hibbert continued his disappointing play over the past few weeks. He finished with five points off 2-of-7 shooting. He recorded two blocks and a pair of assists, but finished with just a single rebound. How a 7-2 center only gets one board is beyond reason.
The Pacers, a team with a size advantage and one of the better rebounding teams in the league, failed to out-rebound the Heat. Miami had a nine board advantage and managed to snag 10 offensive rebounds.
Up next the Pacers return home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that beat them 118-94 in their first meeting. Granted that was on the road and the second game of a back-to-back, but this team doesn’t stand much of a chance against the Kevin Durant‘s. That game tips off at 1 PM Sunday on ABC.