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Big comeback sends Heat to 7th straight win

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MIAMI FL - FEBRUARY 08:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is congratulated by Chris Bosh #1 during a game against the Indiana Pacers at American Airlines Arena on February 8 2011 in Miami Florida.(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI FL - FEBRUARY 08: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is congratulated by Chris Bosh #1 during a game against the Indiana Pacers at American Airlines Arena on February 8 2011 in Miami Florida.(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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At the beginning of this game, it seemed the Heat were putting a little more emphasis on offense then defense.  LeBron James had a pair of big dunks in the first few minutes, one of which was thrown down so hard that it hit Dwyane Wade right in the face and gave him a bloody nose.  Wade had just had a shot blocked which was why he was standing under the rim, but it turned out to be a highlight play because LeBron caught the block in mid-air and in one motion turned it into an ally-oop.

Both teams finished the 1st quarter shooting the ball extremely well.  Miami hit 54% of their shots while the Pacers shot 56%, but it was the Heat that escaped with a slim 33-31 lead.  The 2nd quarter would be a different story as it was all Indiana early on.  They outscored Miami 21-12 over the first 6½ minutes, consistently shooting around 60% and getting great contributions off of their bench. 

At one point late in the half the Pacers reserves were outscoring their starters 29-27.  If you remember, the first meeting between these teams started out close but then Indiana began to dominate, outscoring the Heat 35-19 in the 2nd quarter.  Last night it was like déjà vu all over again because with a couple minutes left in the 1st half Miami was being outscored in the 2nd quarter...you guessed it, 35-19.

The Heat was down 66-52 with 1:43 left when they finally showed some life.  LeBron James led Miami on an 11-0 run to close out the half and head into the break down by just 3.  James had 7 of the 11 points and finished the half with 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting.  It was very encouraging to see the Heat make a run like that because in the big scheme of things, that's how Miami should be playing against the Pacers. 

Whatever it was the Heat was doing right at the end of the half didn't carry over.  Indiana went on an 11-0 run mid-way through the 3rd; dunking all over the place and making Miami look just silly on defense.  On the season the Heat give up an average of about 94 points per game, but the Pacers hit the 94-point mark with 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  It was definitely a shootout at the AAA, with Miami trailing 97-90 heading into the final quarter. 

Slowly but surely, as the 4th quarter wore on the Heat were chipping away at Indiana's lead.  The score certainly didn't indicate it but Miami had been playing tight defense for most of the night.  The Pacers were just hitting shot after shot all night long, but as is usually the case, those kind of streaks don't last forever.  In this case it was Erik Spoelstra switching to a 2-3 zone that seemed to disrupt the flow of Indiana's offense.

The Pacers finally started missing some shots, giving the Heat a window of opportunity to close the gap while trailing 105-100.  As the clock got down under 2 minutes left, LeBron James' first points of the 4th quarter capped a 10-1 run by Miami that put them up by 4.  Things would go back and fourth as you'd expect, and LeBron picked up his 40th and 41st points at the foul line with 8.9 seconds left to put the Heat up by 3.

Indiana should have had a chance to tie the game, but superb defense by Miami kept the Pacers from even getting the ball in bounds.  The Heat forced Indiana into a 5-second violation, then after a pair of Eddie House free throws this one was finally over.  Those were the only two points of the night for House, as he was limited to just 6 minutes.  That's because the Pacers played with big lineups all night that Miami had to match up with. 

After shooting right around 60% throughout the entire game, the Pacers were all but shut down by the Heat in the 4th quarter.  Miami held Indiana to just 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting in the final 12 minutes after allowing 97 points though the first 3 quarters.  Only Denver had put up more points (98) through 3 quarters against the Heat this season.

GAME NOTES

  • Erick Dampier played a season-high 26-minutes and had an impact on both ends of the floor.  He played solid D, hit all 3 of his shots and set some great screens on offense. 
  • LeBron finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals and a block, starting his campaign to win Player of the Week again.
  • Mario Chalmers finished with a season-high 16 points.  He also had 1 rebound, 2 assists and 3 steals.  All his steals came in the 1st quarter. 
  • Chris Bosh continues to slowly find his way back into the swing of things.  He scored 7 of his 19 points in the 4th quarter, also finishing with 7 rebounds. 
  • While his scoring is a little down, Dwyane Wade is making up for it with assists.  He had 7 last night and now has 25 in his last 3 games. 
  • Mike Miller and James Jones each had 8 points off the bench.  Both hit a pair of treys, and Miller added 5 rebounds.
  • The Heat has now won 7-straight games, their 3rd longest win streak of the season. 

The Heat will now hit the road for a 4-game in 6-day trip that takes them right up to the All-Star break.  It begins on Friday night in Detroit.