USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Heat played active defense against Indiana and was able to break down the Pacers defense to win in blowout fashion.
Coming into Sunday evening's game, the Miami Heat had defeated every NBA team during the 2012-13 season with one exception: the Indiana Pacers. The Heat flipped the script on Indiana, leading for the final 42 minutes of the contest en route to a 105-91 lead. Miami manufactured good shots against the strong Pacers defense, forced 16 turnovers and only allowed six Indiana offensive boards.
The Heat began to blow the game open in the final seconds of the second quarter. Frustrated with a lack of foul calls, LeBron James blew past Roy Hibbert for a one-handed dunk with 6.9 seconds left. Dwyane Wade subsequently stole the ball from Paul George and made a jumper over Hibbert at the buzzer. Those two plays put Miami up 10 going into intermission. Early in the third quarter, two 3s from Mario Chalmers and one triple from Chris Bosh helped put Miami up 20. And although Indiana made a few mini-runs, the Heat never allowed the Pacers to truly threaten the lead. Miami won its 18th consecutive game and improved its league-best record to 47-14.
Wade finished with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, 5-of-6 shooting from the foul line and six steals. Early in the fourth quarter, Wade came up with two steals on consecutive Indiana possessions, creating easy Heat field goals both times. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP was particularly effective when James rested in the second and fourth quarters -- allowing the three-time MVP to play a manageable 36 minutes today.
As for James, he only attempted 10 field goals and finished with 13 points. But he did have six rebounds, seven assists and a nice chase-down block on Paul George. The referees turned a blind eye to James on a few notable possessions in the second quarter, but James was still content to play within the confines of the game and give the others open looks. He also had a few powerful rebounds, cutting down on second-chance opportunities from the Pacers.
Mario Chalmers actually scored a game-high 26 points Sunday night and did it on only nine shots. The former Kansas standout made five of his six attempts from 3-point range and also made all three free-throws when he was fouled on another attempt. Chalmers' 3s stand as a testament to the Heat's good ball-movement; Bosh and Haslem assisted on a few of his long-range shots. Bosh even gave him a nice pass for a layup late in the second quarter.
The Heat's starting center scored 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field. Bosh saved a few broken Heat possessions with his 17-foot jumper and helped move Hibbert away from the paint when Miami was on offense. Erik Spoelstra also spent a lot of time tonight with two bigs -- Bosh with either Haslem, Chris Andersen or Joel Anthony. Shane Battier had a bad night, but it didn't seem to hurt Miami's floor-spacing on offense too much.
Miami will host the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday at 7:30 in an attempt for its 19th straight victory.