Miami struggled to generate good looks against a stifling Pacers D, got zero production from the bench and, worst of all, suffered a massive beatdown on the boards.
Dwyane Wade kept Miami in the game during the first half, scoring 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, but things quickly fell apart after the break.
The boards have been a problem for Miami all year, but Indiana absolutely dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Heat by a margin of 55-36. Worse still, the Pacers pulled down 22 offensive boards, which helped offset a pedestrian shooting night overall.
Put another way, there was some serious volleyball being played on the offensive boards, and the Heat weren't involved.
The other key story in this one was Paul George's brilliant performance. The Pacers swing man played good defense on James, forcing seven turnovers. And even though George's final total of 29 points looks great, the number doesn't do justice to the way he attacked Jame head on in the third quarter. The game was decided in that period, and George was right in the middle of it.
Miami moves to 23-10 with the loss, while the Pacers hop up to 21-14 with the impressive victory.
Avert your eyes, Heat fans. These grades aren't going to be pretty.
Mario Chalmers: D
Let's review, shall we?
Mario Chalmers rarely handles the ball, rarely initiates on offense and hasn't been knocking down open perimeter shots.
What exactly is the purpose of having him out there?
To generate highlights for the other team, of course. Sorry, Mario, but we just wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't toss in a clip of Gerald Green hopping on the elevator to authoritatively dismiss your little scoop shot on the break.
Hey, we're not the only ones being a little harsh on Chalmers:
After 0 for 5 start, Mario Chalmers joins the game with a 3-pointer.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) January 7, 2013
Chalmers' final line of three points, four rebounds and one assist on 1-of-6 shooting just isn't going to cut it. And yet again, he was nowhere to be found down the stretch.
Don't worry, though, there are plenty more terrible grades to come.
Dwyane Wade: B
Dwyane Wade came out of the gates with a noticeable aggression against Indiana, and the cold-shooting Miami Heat needed every bit of Wade's 8-of-12 first-half shooting performance to stay close in this one.
Wade worked himself into good position down low against Lance Stephenson, posting him up repeatedly in the early going. That's not a particularly unusual style for Wade, but what was out of the ordinary was his perimeter shooting.
Wade even hit three triples during his 23-point first half.
And even though he's been the subject of some scrutiny for gambling too much on D, Wade put himself in harm's way during this rough-and-tumble matchup:
Dwyane Wade, who is not 6-foot-4 regardless of what they list him at, just took a charge against Roy Hibbert, who is about 9-foot-2.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) January 9, 2013
Sadly, Wade didn't do much after the first two quarters. He made just 1-of-4 shots after the break.
D-Wade's final line of 30 points, five rebounds and three assists was excellent, but he certainly didn't sustain things in the second half.
Overall, he earns Miami's highest grade and can't be blamed for the team's terrible performance in the loss.
LeBron James: B-
LeBron James didn't have an especially poor offensive game, per se. But based on the way Paul George took it to him in the second half, it's tough to let James out of this one with a very high grade.
George was spectacular, particularly after the break, and LBJ was the one guarding him during a run that prompted Twitter to explode.
James finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and seven turnovers, but nobody was talking about that. Everybody was talking about George and the way he fearlessly went at James:
Most astonishing stat of @paul_george24's night: 39 minutes of defending LeBron James without a foul.— Conrad Brunner (@1070Bruno) January 9, 2013
Does Danny Granger have any trade value? ... It's Paul George's world moving forward. What can we get for Granger? #pacerswin52— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) January 9, 2013
Many of George's shots were from long range, so it isn't like James is totally responsible for giving up a series of blow-bys or post-ups, but when you're the best player in the world, we get to have unreasonable expectations.
Based on the totality of the circumstances, LBJ grades out just a hair above average.
Udonis Haslem: F
Udonis Haslem inexplicably started for the Miami Heat again, and if anyone has a good explanation as to why, we'd love to hear it.
Sure, Miami lacks other options at the 4, but it seems pretty reasonable to expect just about any other warm body on the planet (e.g. the D-League) to be able to give Miami more than Haslem has of late.
On the night, the 10-year vet put up zero points and four rebounds in 24 minutes and certainly didn't do much to offset the Pacers' massive size advantage on the front line.
If Haslem can't be useful against teams like the slow-it-down, grind-it-out Pacers, it's possible he can't be useful against anyone.
Chris Bosh: D
Well, Chris Bosh was supposed to be a really tough matchup for the Pacers, as his mid-range jumper figured to drag the much larger Roy Hibbert away from the basket. In theory, that would have opened up driving lanes, removed a good rebounder from the paint and maybe even tired out the Indiana big man.
In the end, none of that came to fruition.
Bosh got an awful lot of open looks, made half of them and failed (again) to rebound like an actual center. He finished with 14 points, five boards and three assists on 5-of-10 shooting.
To be fair, Hibbert did look uncomfortable in the early going, especially when Bosh knocked down a couple of jumpers. It was clear that the Pacers big man wanted nothing to do with Bosh on the perimeter.
For whatever reason, Miami went away from Bosh on the outside, which very much played into Indiana's hands. The Pacers love it when teams try to do work against them in the paint, and that's exactly what the Heat unsuccessfully tried to do.
With Bosh continuing to be a useful floor stretcher, but a pretty big non-factor on the inside, the questions about Miami's small-ball approach seem increasingly warranted. As for more specific ones, here's this:
Why is Chris Bosh so bad at receiving lobs?— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) January 9, 2013
We're stumped, too.
Shane Battier: F
If we were grading on a curve, Shane Battier would be in much better shape. His awful performance was surrounded by others, which might have earned him something in the "C" range.
Unfortunately for the Heat's sixth man, there's no curve here.
He gets an "F" for the following obvious reasons: Battier played the most minutes of any Heat reserve (17), missed all three of his shots, grabbed just one rebound and committed two fouls.
Believe it or not, that was the extent of his measurable contributions. And since he didn't do anything notably cerebral or otherwise Shane Battier-esque, we have no choice but to fail him.
Bench Grade: F
Let's keep the failing grades coming!
Joel Anthony was scoreless in 11 minutes, while Ray Allen put up his own goose egg in 16 minutes.
Norris Cole managed five points, but he also had the Heat's worst plus/minus figure, at a pretty impressive (for the wrong reasons) minus-18.
In the interest of completeness, we'll mention that Mike Miller scored three points on 1-of-3 shooting. Hurray, Mike!
On a more serious note, Miami's ongoing failure to get anything close to consistent production off the bench is a very real issue. There's already an immense amount of pressure on Miami's big-name trio, and it seems as though every one of them has to have a good game for the Heat to win.
That's not a sustainable model.
Everyone seems to forget that the Heat had postseason success last year because the reserves complemented the stars with good defense and timely threes. Those two things are totally absent among Miami's subs this year—and especially of late.
Can we just move on, please?