The Miami Heat bounced back to win Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 114-96, taking a 2-1 series lead over the Indiana Pacers Sunday night.
The Heat offense exploded thanks to 54.5 percent shooting from the field and 42.9 percent shooting from three.
Miami's efficiency was the solution to cracking the Pacers' notoriously stingy defense. On the night, the Heat turned the ball over just five times and assisted on 50 percent of their buckets.
LeBron James led all scorers with 22 points and capped off his line with four rebounds and three assists. Dwyane Wade played his best game of the series, contributing 18 points and eight assists in the road win.
After two breakout performances in South Florida, Paul George was limited to 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting and committed five turnovers in the loss. Not only was he stifled by the Miami defense, but George and the Pacers offense relied on isolations far too often.
Roy Hibbert and David West had their way on the interior, but their production wasn't enough to deter a red-hot Miami club. Hibbert finished with 20 points, two blocks and a game-high 17 rebounds, while West scored a team-high 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
From the jump, both offenses were humming. The Heat led after one thanks to 65 percent shooting, but the Pacers didn't lag far behind, shooting 55.6 percent from the field over the first 12 minutes. Distributed scoring reigned supreme, as all 10 starters registered points in the early going.
With an emphasis on getting his supporting cast involved early, James successfully deferred to his teammates. Bosh, Haslem and Chalmers combined to score 22 of the Heat's 34 first-quarter points and helped give Miami a four-point lead, 34-30, after the first quarter.
Haslem, whose calling has always been defense, exploded for 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds in just 23 minutes. Bosh added 15 points in 24 minutes, as all five Heat starters finished in double figures.
As opposed to Games 1 and 2, the pace of Game 3 strongly favored the Heat. Action moved quickly from end to end, and even when things did settle down in the half court, the Heat were able to space the floor, move the ball quickly and exploit mismatches.
In a replay to the 2012 postseason, the Heat turned to James in the post, which was bad news for the Pacers. The Heat continually posted up LeBron against George down on the left block, and by halftime, James had himself 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Unsurprisingly, the Heat led by 14 at the break after scoring a postseason franchise-record 70 points in the first half.
LeBron in the post. Feels like the Heat just stumbled upon a GameShark.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 27, 2013
West paced Indiana to the tune of 16 points and five rebounds in the first half, using his tenacity on the glass and silky touch to keep the Pacers just within striking distance.
The Pacers were able to cut the Heat lead to single digits in the third quarter, but that was only temporary. A 9-1 run toward the end of the third quarter stretched Miami's lead to 15, and there was no turning back from that point on.
Haslem opened with eight first-quarter points. Those eight points exceeded his scoring totals from the first two games of the series combined.
Udonis Haslem: 4-4 in 1st quarter ... in what was a hot-shooting quarter for both teams, he fared best. twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/…— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 27, 2013
Bosh opened the game with eight points in the game's first five minutes, hitting on three of his first four looks from the field (including two threes).
Bosh shooting with Birdman-like precision.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) May 27, 2013
The pace of the game was in Miami's favor early, but the Pacers hung tough, opening 7-of-9 from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
41 combined points on 24 possessions. #HEATvPACERS— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) May 27, 2013
Wade didn't steal the show, but his performance in the first half was just what the doctor ordered.
With 10 points and 6 assists, Wade having maybe best half of playoffs. So probably are the Heat.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) May 27, 2013
The Pacers scored 56 points through two, but couldn't stop a Miami attack that put up historically good numbers.
Well, LeBron just broke out the floater. And that's a new franchise playoff record for points in a half.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 27, 2013
Chris Andersen continues to post mind-boggling numbers. Here's one, courtesy of ESPN's Tom Haberstroh. On the night, Andersen finished with nine points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
Ray Allen's playoff FT%: 85.7 percent. Chris Andersen's playoff FG%: 85.0 percent.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 27, 2013
You can knock Lance Stephenson for a lot of things, but his ability to get to the rim on the break has been invaluable to the Pacers.
It's almost like good things always happen when they outlet to Lance and he pushes.— Jared Wade (@8pts9secs) May 27, 2013
Shane Battier only registered seven points, but he drew a number of key fouls in the third quarter.
Shane Battier's having the Shane Battier version of a Steph Curry third quarter.— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) May 27, 2013
ESPN's Brian Windhorst passed along this friendly reminder that the Heat respond in a big way after losing.
Tonight is a reminder the Heat haven't lost a road game in 49 days & haven't lost 2 games in a row in more than 4 months.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) May 27, 2013