Now THAT'S how you handle a team playing on the road in the 2nd night of a back-to-back. The Heat came out strong and never let up, taking care of the struggling Pacers 114-80. Everything was clicking for Miami, offensively and defensively. I'd like to see how ‘this' Heat team plays against some of the better teams in the league, so hopefully the inconsistency has left for good and we can see what the talent on this roster can really do.
Jermaine O'Neal must have gotten plenty of rest in the past couple days because he was very active in the early minutes, scoring 4 early points. The Heat were out to show the home crowd they were ‘back', outscoring the Pacers a ridiculous 17-3 in the games first 4 minutes, capped off by back-to-back dunks by Jermaine O'Neal and D-Wade. As impressive as the early scoring was, the Heat were playing great D. They forced 5 Pacers turnovers in the first few minutes.
It isn't very often that you see a team holding a 20-point lead in the 1st quarter, but that was the case tonight with the Heat up 29-9. Unfortunately, that big lead evaporated as quickly as it appeared. The Pacers went on a 13-5 run while the Heat missed 7 straight field goals to close the gap.
The Indiana comeback continued in the 2nd quarter, as half way through they got all the way back within 10. The Heat quickly responded with a nice 10-0 run to go up 50-30 with 4 minutes left in the 1st half, and coasted into halftime with a 22-point lead. Jermaine O'Neal was perfect in the opening half, scoring 17 points on 5-of-5 shooting and 7-of-7 from the foul line.
As if the first half wasn't dominant enough, god only knows what was said in the Heat locker room at halftime because they came out in the 3rd quarter and went crazy on the Pacers. Miami came out on a 12-1 run, hitting their first 5 shots of the 2nd half. The whole quarter went by in a blur, as the Pacers kept turning the ball over (11 times in the 3rd) and the Heat cracked 90 points with over 2 minutes left, taking a 38-point lead into the final period.
Since the Heat had such a big lead, they were able to empty the bench and give their reserves some minutes in the 4th quarter, going with the lineup of Haslem, Anthony, Cook, Wright and Chalmers, although Haslem was soon replaced by Jamaal Magloire. Over the next 3+ minutes of the game, the Heat were outscored 3-0 as the game went from awesome and exciting to sloppy and boring.
Overall it was a great win for Miami. They are indeed a very hot team, and this streak of great play seemingly came out of nowhere. The Heat have been a very inconsistent team since starting the season 6-1, but hopefully they are coming around and showing us the kind of ball they will be playing for the remainder of the season.
- The Heat scored 66 points in the 1st half, their highest point total for a half this season.
- They started the game shooting 8-for-8 and hit 10 of their first 11. At a time when so much attention has been paid to the Heat's D, they sure came out with guns-a-blazin' last night.
- D-Wade was awesome in the opening half, scoring 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting.
- I'm very quickly falling off the Mario Chalmers bandwagon. He lost minutes due to foul trouble, and just doesn't seem to bring any intensity to the floor anymore. He has the skill, but at this point I have to think it's just a matter of immaturity.
- Carlos Arroyo was good, scoring 8 with 3 boards and 5 assists. 3 of those 5 assists were on ally-oops (one to Anthony, one to Dorell and one to D-Wade)
- Daequan Cook played 18 scoreless minutes. What the hell happened to this guy?
- The Pacers finished with 19 turnovers which led to 22 Heat points.
- The Heat's largest lead of the game was 40, beating their previous ‘big lead' mark by 9 points. They led the Knicks by 31 during the season opener on October 28th.
Next up for the Heat is a little 2-game road trip through New Orleans and San Antonio on Wednesday and Thursday. Not an easy trip by any means, but the Heat are playing some really good basketball, so it's a great test.