The Heat couldn't have gotten off to a worse start. They had 5 turnovers before they had 5 points, and gifted the Pacers a 17-4 lead before the Heat woke up. The Pacers had a 15 point lead in the first half before Miami closed the gap heading into halftime, trailing 42-38.
After halftime, Miami was a different team. They took a 7 point lead into the fourth quarter after back-to-back threes from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. In the fourth, the Pacers cut the Heat lead to 76-74 behind free throws from Paul George.
And then it happened.
You know. The flip was switched. And the Heat came alive on both ends of the court and put the blitz on the Pacers. Most of it was fueled by the hot shooting of Ray Allen. Allen scored all 16 of his points in the second half, and 13 of them in fourth quarter, including 4-4 from deep. His threes were daggers and pushed the Heat and the crowd right to where they wanted to be.
Miami led by as many as 15 as well, and finished the game by winning 99-87. That's a 30 point swing in the game. LeBron James was dominant from mid second quarter-on. He had 26 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds. But even more important than that was the continued aggressive, productive play by Dwyane Wade. Wade had 23 points on 9-16 shooting. Wade's now scored 27, 23, and 23 in the Conference Finals.
The anchor went down the line even more in this game as Norris Cole played 33 minutes to Mario Chalmers' 14. Chalmers had 6 points, but had 3 turnovers and a couple silly fouls. Cole had 9 points on 4-6 shooting. Chris Andersen played 23 minutes and had 7 rebounds. Chris Bosh, played one of his worst games in recent memory. He scored his series normal 9 points, but was in foul trouble, not much of a rhythm, and was getting beaten by Luis Scola on defense. Bosh has a lot to figure out for the Heat to close out this series.
The Heat took 17 minutes from Rashard Lewis who didn't score, but was on the floor when the Heat played their best. "Shane told me when I went out there, just bring energy, be a spark" said Lewis. He played as much as Haslem, and didn't allow Shane Battier to get off the bench in the second half. Greg Oden also did not play despite dressing in place of Michael Beasley.
"It's a real credit to Rashard for keeping himself ready." -- Erik Spoelstra
Miami shot 54% and hit 10-18 from deep, easily their best and most efficient game from deep against the Pacers this season. Miami also matched the Pacers on the boards.
The Pacers were led by 17 points from Paul George, had 16 from Roy Hibbert, 13 from David West, and 10 points and 11 rebounds from Lance Stephenson. It was Indiana's 17 turnovers that really hurt them, especially a stretch in the second quarter with several of them that allowed the Heat to trim the lead going into halftime.
The Heat were able to go small in this game at times, with LeBron guarding West, and then West attempting to stick to Ray Allen. Chris Bosh didn't get abused by Hibbert late, and Cole was again effective on Stephenson. The adjustments will continue, but the Heat have found some recipes to challenge the Pacers.
What tonight was about: Miami didn't give up, and Ray Allen is still special.
The Heat lead the Eastern Conference Finals 2-1 and ended the Pacers' 5 game postseason road win streak. The Heat are a perfect 6-0 at home. The series is still young, but is right where the Heat want it to be at.
Game 4 is Monday night, 8:30 PM EST on ESPN.