Dec 11 2013, 1:16am CST | by Poch de la Rosa
Roy Hibbert led all scorers with 24 points while Paul George scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to help Indiana overcome a 13-point, first-half deficit and beat Miami in the teams' first meeting this season.
Granted that it's only December and it's just a regular-season game, this matchup felt like it's a postseason one, per The Associated Press:
"During pregame media availability, Indiana's Lance Stephenson said this game felt like a championship matchup. Two of Miami's big three, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, tried to downplay that sort of talk by explaining this was not a win or go home night.
"The hometown fans didn't care what the Heat thought. They were already in postseason form, booing loudly at the officials, chanting 'He's a flopper' on some contestable foul calls and eventually serenading Miami players with those familiar chants of 'Beat the Heat.'"
The Heat, which got 17 points, 14 rebounds and six assists from reigning MVP LeBron James, led by 13 at the halfway point of the second quarter and enjoyed a 47-40 advantage at halftime.
However, Indiana, as it has done all season long, took over in the third quarter.
The Pacers knotted things up at 55 when point guard George Hill drained a triple. Hibbert then scored on a three-point play to give Indiana its first lead of the contest at 58-57. Indiana outscored Miami 28-17 in the third period, per USA Today Sports' Candace Buckner.
Paul George scored 12 of those 28 points, including the Pacers' last 10 in the quarter, notes Pacers.com's Scott Agness.
George's last points of the game -- a three-pointer from the right corner in the fourth quarter -- put his team up by nine. Indiana power forward David West's left-handed runner put the game out of reach at 88-81 in the waning moments.
West equaled George's production with 17 points of his own and added nine rebounds and four assists. Wade had 17 points, six rebounds and six assists, Bosh had 12 points and Chris Andersen scored 10 points for Miami.
While he did tally 17 points, James shot just 6-for-16 from the field (1-for-4 in the fourth quarter) for a 37.5 percent clip, notes Agness.
Agness also points out that the Pacers are now 10-2 in games where they were trailing at the half. They also upped their record to 17-0 when they are leading heading into the fourth period.
Indiana head coach Frank Vogel told Buckner after the game how much he admires his team's resiliency. He said,"This team has incredible will and heart and desire to do whatever it takes. Whatever needs to happen for us to get a win, that's what they do."
The Pacers and Heat square off again on Dec. 18 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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