Coming into this season, Miami had lost 14 straight games at Conseco Fieldhouse. They quickly ended that streak, as their first road game this year was at Indiana. After going on to beat the Pacers both times at the AAA, Miami made history tonight by beating them again in Indiana. For the first time in their 22-year history, the Heat completed a season sweep of the Pacers. I know I keep saying this...but you've just GOTTA love the way our basketball team is playing.
The Heat's first points came on a 3-shot possession by Michael Beasley. He missed an outside jumper but Joel Anthony came down with the offensive rebound and gave it right back to Beasley, who couldn't finish a nice drive but got his own rebound and wouldn't miss a second time. The Heat actually got out to a 6-0 start thanks to the Pacers missing their first 6 shots.
Miami's defense was smothering in the early stages of the game, but their grip on the Pacers loosened as the quarter went on. At one point the Heat held a 12-4 lead but Indiana quickly turned the tides, going on a nice 13-3 run to take their first lead of the game at 17-15. Miami regained their composure and closed out the quarter on a positive note, taking a 1-point lead into the 2nd.
Miami started the 2nd quarter with Mario Chalmers AND Carlos Arroyo in the backcourt to go with Michael Beasley AND Udonis Haslem in the frontcourt. Both teams were shooting 35% at this point, and Beasley was just 2-of-9 with both buckets coming right at the rim. On back-to-back possessions Mario Chalmers took and missed a pair of treys; both times I felt the Heat could have gotten better looks, and Rio taking ‘dumb' 3-pointers is something I've had an issue with all season. That left Miami 0-for-7 from beyond the arc.
An 8-2 Pacers run gave them a 5-point lead half way through the quarter, which prompted Dwyane Wade's return to the game. Unfortunately there wasn't an immediate impact, and the defensive struggles continued. Another bonehead play by Mario Chalmers, who fouled A.J. Price while taking a 3-pointer with just 2 seconds left on the shot clock. Suddenly the Heat found themselves down by 9 points with just over 4 minutes left in the 1st half, and they were lucky it wasn't a larger deficit considering they had scored just 6 points in the 2nd quarter.
Apparently nobody wanted to cover Troy Murphy because every time Miami scored a basket, he would come right back and hit a J. He had 20 points and 11 rebounds in the 1st half, leading all players, and his Pacers took a 49-39 lead into the locker room. Both teams shot just 37%, but the Pacers made 14 free throws to the Heat's 8, and Miami was ice cold from beyond, going 1-of-9 while Indiana hit 5-of-14 (3 of those 5 belonged to Troy Murphy).
D-Wade got off to a quick start in the 3rd quarter, scoring 6 quick points helping bring the Heat back within 5. Miami looked very relaxed on offense despite their 1st half struggles and were on a 14-4 run that brought them right back into this game. The Heat kept building their momentum and riding D-Wade, who had a huge 3rd quarter, scoring 18 of his 32 points and giving the Heat a 3-point lead heading into the final quarter.
Dorell Wright opened the 4th by nailing his first triple of the game, and Michael Beasley was back in the game after missing the entire 3rd quarter with some back issues. The Pacers made their run early, re-taking the lead less then 4 minutes in. A Beasley turnover and a typical Chalmers possession where he carries the ball up the floor and the Heat end up rushing at shot at the end of the 24 led to 6 Pacers points.
Chalmers actually waived off Carlos Arroyo so that he could bring the ball up, and all that happened was a sloppy offensive possession where Chalmers had the ball for all but 3 seconds...and he wasn't even the guy who ended up taking the shot. Coach Spo needs to get the ball out of Rio's hands and keep riding his Arroyo-horse because Carlos knows how to properly run an NBA offense and its becoming quite clear that Chalmers is not yet ready to handle that kind of responsibility.
When the Heat came back on their next possession, it was Arroyo handling the ball and it led to Chalmers getting a wide open look at a corner trey, which he nailed. The game kept going back and forth with each team hitting big shots, and the game ended up tied at the halfway point of the quarter. Considering how poor the offense was for both teams for most of the game, this 4th quarter was pretty damn exciting.
With less than 2 minutes left, Miami had a 2-point lead and failed to score on back-to-back possessions that could have made it a two-possession game. After Udonis came down with a tough offensive rebound, some great passing gave Dorell Wright a wide open look at a trey, but too much time to set up the shot led to the ball coming up short. Earl Watson made the Heat pay, tying the game up with about 30 seconds left.
Miami couldn't even get a shot on their next possession, giving the ball back to Indiana with 27 seconds left and the game tied at 89. The Heat played some of their best D of the game, not allowing the Pacers to get a good look. Danny Granger missed the tough, rushed shot and we were heading for overtime.
When I saw the Heat come to the floor for the start of OT, I was surprised to see Mario Chalmers and no Carlos Arroyo. Rio was playing a solid game, and he quickly converted on a ridiculous drive, giving the Heat a 2-point lead. D-Wade got the Heat the ball right back on the other end by blocking an Earl Watson shot and holding on to the ball before it could go out of bounds.
A Wade triple, his first of the game, would put the Heat up by 5 with under 2 minutes left. Flash wasn't done, coming right back down the floor and drilling another 3-pointer to put the Heat up by 8 with 1:17 left in overtime. Another Wade layup would be the dagger for Miami, and they would go on to get the win the building that until this season was a loss factory for the Heat.
- Dwyane Wade was just spectacular. He finished with 43 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocked shots. The 43 points was the most by any Heat player against Indiana in franchise history. It was the 4th time this year Wade scored at least 40 points. Not bad for the newest Eastern Conference Player of the Month.
- A very quietly productive game for Joel Anthony, who played the 2nd most minutes for the Heat behind D-Wade. Joel finished with 8 points and 8 boards, but his defensive effort was awesome and should not go overlooked.
- Dorell Wright stepped up big time when it mattered most. He scored all 11 of his points in the 4th quarter and overtime. He also came down with 7 rebounds and a blocked shot, but hit a pair of huge treys that were key in Miami's victory.
- Erik Spoelstra is now 9-4 in overtime games as a head coach.
- Mario Chalmers also came up big when it counted, getting a vote of confidence from his coach by playing Rio instead of Arroyo in overtime. What stands out from Chalmers' stat line is just the 1 turnover in 35 minutes.
- Udonis came up 1 point shy of another double double, finishing with 9 and 11.
That's all I've got for now. Its very late and I need to get a couple hours of sleep before heading back to work in about 4 hours. Anything that I missed I'll be getting to during tomorrow's pregame blog. Oh, there is one more thing. Like Miami, Charlotte was also victorious in overtime, beating Milwaukee and allowing the Heat to leapfrog over the Bucks into 5th place. Things only look better for Miami as they get to play the worst in the west tomorrow night in Minnesota while the Bucks get to host red-hot Phoenix.