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The Beast Of The East: Miami 98, Indiana 86

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In an Eastern Conference Finals preview (a foregone conclusion for entitled Heat and Pacers fans), Miami and Indiana played a dogfight through two, a blowout in the third, and an almost comeback in the fourth.

© Steve Mitchell - USA Today

First Quarter

Through the first half of the first quarter, LeBron James scored 10 of Miami's first 12 points, going a perfect four-for-four from the field, including two three-pointers. Meanwhile, the Pacers scored 16, with three players scoring at least five points.

Bosh got into the action with a 21-footer from the right wing to bring the Heat within two, then Udonis Haslem fouled Roy Hibbert, who made one-of-two free throws. David West and Chris Bosh traded 19-footers, then James was fouled by David West. Norris Cole made a three-pointer to bring the score to 19-all with three minutes left in the quarter.

Neither team could hit a shot for a spell after Cole's triple. James made two free throws after getting fouled by Ian Mahinmi. Mahinmi dunked the ball the next time down the floor to keep the score knotted. West hit two free throws, and James returned the favor with 21 seconds left. Paul George drove to the hoop as the play clock wound down to 1.3 seconds, earning a foul from the Birdman, Chris Andersen. After one, the Pacers led the Heat, 25-23.

First Quarter Observations

  • David West got hot for 10 points for the Pacers, and LeBron James paced the Heat with 14. Both players were in the contest for the full 12 minutes.
  • James was four-of-six from the floor, the rest of the team was four-for-11.
  • The Heat were guilty of a grand total of one turnover through the period, by King James himself.

Second Quarter

A Birdman dunk got the party started in the second quarter, followed by a series of missed opportunities for each team. Lance Stephenson drained the longest two-pointer possible, and the Heat answered with two Andersen free throws for the seventh tie of the contest. Luis Scola knocked down a 21-footer, followed by a strong offensive-board and toss-in for Andersen.

CJ Watson drove the length of the court for a layup, and Indiana negated some good hustle by winning the fight for a loose ball under the Pacers net. Mario Chalmers finally sunk one for the Heat, driving right to the rim for a layup and another tie at 31-all.

Haslem put back Rio's missed shot halfway through the quarter, and Watson hit a three pointer. Bosh hit a six-foot jump-hook to close the gap to 36-35. The score would remain that way for quite a while after that. After around 2:30 of nobody scoring, Udonis Haslem made his first of two free throws, collecting the rebound off his miss and earning the assist for Chalmers putback and Miami's first lead since the first quarter, 38-36.

Ray Allen stole the ball under the Pacers net with two minutes left in the half, hitting James in stride three-quarters of the way down the court. James was fouled, and made half of his two free throw attempts for a game high three point Heat lead. Paul George erased that lead with his second three-pointer of the night.

UD had a nice smooth jumper over George Hill to reestablish Miami's lead, and the Pacers threw the ball away their next trip down the court. The Pacers ninth turnover of the night led to King James making two free throws. Stephenson drove to the hoop, running over Haslem in the process and getting called for a charge. George made another three-pointer, and the Heat held the ball for the final shot of the quarter. Roy Hibbert fouled Bosh on his way to the net, and CB hit both of them for a 45-42 Heat lead going into the locker room.

Second Quarter Observations

  • Birdman was the best thing going for Miami early in the frame, digging for loose balls, collecting rebounds, and blocking a shot. He did, however, badly miss an open 17-footer.
  • Rashard Lewis missed all six of his field goal attempts through the first half.
  • Ray Allen had two turnovers, bringing Miami's total to three for the game. The Pacers had 10.
  • Bosh was four-for-five, scoring 10 points in the half.

Third Quarter

The second half would start with Rio hitting a straightaway three for a six point Miami lead. Toney Douglas was called for a reach-in foul on the return trip down the court, and Hibbert missed a hook shot. LeBron broke for the hoop, and West wrapped him up in a hug for his third foul of the night. James hit both free throws. Douglas stole the ball on Indiana's next trip, and took the ball all the way to the rim for a 10-point Miami lead.

The two teams combined to miss their next three shots before James sunk a 7-footer off-balance and off the backboard while getting fouled. He also made the free throw. Haslem put back a LBJ miss on the Heat's next chance, and then the same exact thing happened a few moments later. Miami had scored 16 straight, and had outscored Indiana 14-0 in the second half.

After another missed opportunity for the Pacers, West earned his fourth foul of the night on LBJ. James made a 22-footer a second later for an 18-point Miami lead. Scola was fouled, and scored the Pacers first two points of the quarter with 7:15 remaining. Rio drove under the basket and made a reverse layup to answer them, followed by a Rio steal, a James assist, and a Douglas layup for a 65-44 Miami lead halfway through the third.

After a Pacers bucket, the Birdman was fouled heading to the rim, making one-of-two. Bosh made a fantastic block on a Hibbert field goal attempt, followed up soon afterward by a pair of made free throws for James. Scola tried to keep the Pacers in it with a 20-footer, but was answered by a three from Douglas for a 23-point Heat lead. Hibbert made a dunk the next time down.

The Birdman fouled George, who made the hoop but missed the free throw. Scola fouled Lewis, who made one-of-two free throws for his first point of the night. Lewis then stole the ball, but Miami gave it right back. Hibbert capitalized with a layup. James then hit a mid-range jumper and a fallaway 16-footer.

Watson hit two three pointers, and Evan Turner hit a three-pointer to close the gap to 17. George drove the hoop and made the layup, earning a foul from Andersen and making the accompanying free throw. Andersen then dropped the ball out of bounds, giving the Pacers another chance to close things up. George threw up an airball from 27-feet, and James missed his long jumper at the buzzer. Miami led 76-62 after three quarters.

Third Quarter Observations

  • Everything went wrong for the Pacers through the first half of the quarter, and the Heat were playing like two-time defending Champions.
  • James had 13 points in the quarter, and 30 for the game to that point. George led the Pacers with 18.
  • All of Indiana's starters were between minus-13 and minus-19, and all of their reserves were between plus-2 and plus-5.

Fourth Quarter

Scola opened the scoring in the third, and Watson hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to nine. Miami couldn't get on the board at all until the 9:37 mark, when Allen hit a technical free throw to break a 13-point run by Indiana. Haslem scored his 10th and 11th points on a slam, and Allen was fouled going up for a dunk. Shuttlesworth made both freebies.

Chalmers kissed one high off the glass for a bucket, then stole the ball and fed Lewis for a slam and another 18-point Heat lead with eight minutes left.

West earned a trip to the foul line, making two. Bosh badly missed a three pointer, followed by a lean-in West 14-footer. Allen made a 13-foot fadeaway to keep Miami's lead at 16. Miami used the full 24 seconds their next time down, then got the offensive board for a fresh 24. Unfortunately, Rio missed the layup.

Cole stole the ball the next time down, and fed LeBron on a four-on-one in transition for a no-doubt slam dunk.

At 4:33, Haslem was fouled hard by West - and the two traded pleasantries but were broken up before anything could develop. Incidentally, UD missed both free throws.

James put in his own miss to make his personal total 34 points in 32 minutes with four minutes left in regulation. His next time with the ball, he drew a foul from West, sending him to the locker room with his sixth of the game. Still, the Pacers continued to chip away, closing to 91-79 with 3:14 left in the game.

With 1:30 left and down by 14, the Pacers just- gave up after Hibbert missed a jumper. The clock ran out with the Heat on top, 98-86.

Fourth Quarter Observations

  • Scola nearly faked Cole out of his shoes with a jumper from the corner.
  • James almost finished the game with zero assists, but earned one on a Ray Allen jumper with less than three minutes left in the game.
  • James ended the game with 36 points on 11-of-20 shooting, also going 12-of-13 from the line.
Thanks for reading. For the Pacers take on events, go to Indy Cornrows. Next up, the Atlanta Hawks. Keep it locked in here at Hot Hot Hoops for all of your Heat news.