Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat: Game Grades and Analysis

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Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat: Game Grades and Analysis
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Miami Heat (19-6) erased a 15-point deficit in the second half to emerge victorious over the Indiana Pacers (20-5) Wednesday night with a 97-94 victory.

This win pulls the Heat within one game of Indiana for the lead in the Eastern Conference.

The Pacers had a 92-85 lead with 3:21 remaining in the game, but Miami would score the next 10 points to retake the lead for the first time after being up 14-13 in the opening quarter.

Led by Dwyane Wade and his 32 points, the Heat would shoot 48.1 percent from the field. They would also outscore the Pacers 50-30 in the paint and 21-9 on the fast break. 

Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra was happy with the way his team bounced back after a fairly rough start to the game:

 

Before losing to Miami, Indiana had been 18-0 after leading at the end of the third quarter.

 

Miami Heat

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

 

LeBron James, Small Forward

After rolling his left ankle in a non-contact play on December 16 in a game against the Utah Jazz, there was a chance that LeBron James wouldn't be able to play against the Indiana Pacers.

He shot a season-worst 6-of-16 from the field the last time these two teams met, so I'm sure James wanted nothing more than to suit up and redeem himself.

Watching the four-time MVP pick up two fouls in the first quarter was a shock to the system. Rarely do you ever see that happen.

When he did return to the court, a skirmish between Lance Stephenson and Mario Chalmers in the second quarter awoke the beast inside. He scored eight of Miami's 11 points on an 11-2 run to cut into Indiana's lead. However, a silly foul on Roy Hibbert forced him to sit out the remaining 4:26 of the period. 

It was almost a luxury for James to be on the bench as much as he was during that span. It allowed him to stay on the court and play nearly every second of the second half.

That extra energy sure came in handy when he drove by Luis Scola to throw down a vicious slam dunk. 

In 36 minutes, James had a near triple-double of 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Grade: A

 

Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard

With LeBron James battling foul trouble, Dwyane Wade looked to be more of a factor on offense early on, attempting 14 shots in the first half for 14 points on 50-percent shooting. 

After just 19 minutes, Wade had nearly matched his total (17) from his last encounter with the Pacers.  

 

On this night, the nine-time NBA All-Star was Miami's hottest commodity. He was scoring from all areas of the court, hitting open looks and playing as if his knees had never been an issue.

Thirty-two points on 25 shots? How's that for aggressive?

Grade: A+

 

Chris Bosh, Center

By the 7:58 mark of the first quarter, Chris Bosh had already picked up his second foul after creating contact under the basket with Roy Hibbert. It was an extremely questionable call, but it forced Bosh to hit the pine early. 

When he was on the court, his play was very sloppy. There were a couple of occasions upon which he drove the lane, only to fumble away the basketball with clumsy handling.

Showing off his basketball IQ, Bosh took advantage of the fact that the defending Roy Hibbert was in foul trouble, attacking the basket and forcing the 7'2" center to the sidelines. 

Bosh's clutch three-pointer with 1:30 remaining in the fourth quarter helped the Heat tie the game at 92 apiece. He finished the night with 15 points and eight rebounds. 

 

Grade: B+/A-

 

Mario Chalmers, Point Guard

The three-point shot wasn't falling for Mario Chalmers through two quarters of the game. He missed his first three attempts from long range, despite normally being a fairly dependable option in that department, hitting 43.2 percent on the season. 

Chalmers got into a small fracas with Lance Stephenson in the second quarter, picking up a technical foul in the process. At the very least, it did spark a run for the Miami Heat, so there's that.

 

Chalmers' start to the third quarter was the definition of rough. From getting yelled at by LeBron James on the bench to fouling Paul George on a three-point attempt, I'm sure no one watching wanted to be in his shoes.

Grade: D-

 

Shane Battier, Power Forward

You have to give credit where credit is due to Shane Battier for putting his body on the line in an attempt to defend the likes of David West and Roy Hibbert. He even drew an offensive foul in the process. 

It was pretty comical to see referee Joey Crawford be so adamant that Battier had delivered a flagrant foul to David West in the third quarter, when it clearly wasn't.

In 14 minutes, Battier attempted just one shot, which he missed.

Grade: D-

 

Ray Allen, Sixth Man

The NBA's all-time leader in made three-point field goals had some trouble finding consistency with his shot throughout the night, but when his team needed him most, Ray Allen delivered in a big way.

He hit a three-pointer with 59.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to put the Heat up 95-92. His two free throws afterward sealed the deal for good. 

 

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Allen also contributed on the glass, grabbing seven rebounds, which is a nice increase over the 2.5 he's averaging on the year.

Grade: B+

 

Bench

The biggest contributor for Miami's second unit was Chris "Birdman" Anderson, who even managed to display some range in the first quarter with a nice 13-foot jumper. He played important minutes near the end of the game, finishing with eight points and four rebounds. 

Norris Cole and Rashard Lewis combined to shoot 2-of-11 from the field, while Udonis Haslem, who saw the floor for what seemed like the first time in forever, had two rebounds in seven minutes. 

Grade: C

 

Indiana Pacers

Paul George, Small Forward

Pau George couldn't have possibly started this game any worse than he did the last time the Heat and Pacers squared off. By halftime of the aforementioned contest, George had missed all four of his shots and turned the ball over five times.

George really shines in the second half of games, though, so it wasn't surprising to see Indiana's go-to guy score only seven points through two quarters. His Pacers teammates were coming up big, so there wasn't a need for George to take over. 

That all changed in the third quarter, after George nailed two quick three-pointers for eight points in the first four minutes.  

He scored 18 points in the second half and finished the game with 25, adding eight rebounds, six assists and two steals.

It's a solid line, but I'm sure he'd have been more satisfied with a win.

 

Besides, wasn't he fouled on this final play? It sure looks like he was.

Grade: A

 

Roy Hibbert, Center

It's hard to get in much of a rhythm when you're constantly worried about picking up fouls. 

Roy Hibbert had three fouls in the first half, which later became five with 8:32 remaining in the third quarter. Head coach Frank Vogel took a huge gamble keeping his big man in the game, which ultimately turned out to be a bad decision. 

Hibbert played just 22 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing just two rebounds.

One of Indiana's big advantages over the Heat is its size down low, with most of that coming from Hibbert. How can you exploit Miami's weakness if you're not playing enough to do anything about it?

Grade: D

 

David West, Power Forward

David West was just firing on all cylinders for the Indiana Pacers. His matchup with Shane Battier early on the game never presented him much of a problem with the obvious size difference. 

He scored 11 of his 19 points in the third quarter, finishing the game with 23 in 35 minutes.

It would have been nice to see West contribute more on the glass (he only had three rebounds), especially with Roy Hibbert sitting. 

 

Grade: A

 

Lance Stephenson, Shooting Guard

It was looking as if Lance Stephenson was going to finish with a monster stat line after scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds in the first half. He was hitting extremely difficult shots, hustling for loose balls and even getting into it with some Heat players.

His intensity on the defensive end was also commendable, although Dwyane Wade's offense was just better on this night. 

Stephenson scored just 13 points in the game, even after playing 41 total minutes. He barely missed a double-double with nine rebounds. 

Grade: B

 

George Hill, Point Guard

What was up with that pass at the end of the game? George Hill threw the ball behind teammate Paul George while cutting under the basket as LeBron James picked off the arrant pass.

 

The play could have worked in theory, but whether it was miscommunication on the part of the Pacer teammates or not, all anyone could really do is shake his head after watching what had transpired. 

The execution didn't pan out as Frank Vogel would have hoped.

Other than that, Hill only had seven points on 2-of-8 shooting. 

Grade: C-

 

Luis Scola, Sixth Man

Luis Scola sure loves that mid-range jumper of his. Miami was going to give that to him all night. He made them pay on occasion by hitting a couple, but the Heat will live with that.

He was another recipient of some extra playing time as some of his frontcourt mates battled foul trouble. 

 

Whether you're a fan of the Pacers or the Heat, all you're going to remember about this game as it pertains to Scola is that drive-by jam from one LeBron James.

Poor guy.

Grade: C+

 

Bench

The second unit of C.J. Watson, Rasual Butler and Ian Mahinmi afforded Indiana's starters more time to rest on the bench to start the second quarter. They helped jumpstart an 8-2 run for the Pacers to increase their lead, scoring 15 total points in the opening half. 

Was I the only one who jumped out of my seat when Mahinmi blocked Norris Cole at the rim? I understand the size difference, but it was still a noteworthy rejection. 

 

In fact, we saw a lot of Mahinmi tonight with Roy Hibbert struggling to stay on the court. The only thing I would recommend is that he avoid shooting for the time being. He went 1-of-5 from the field, with a few clanking off the side of the backboard.

Indiana will need further production from a bench that averages 24 points on the season, the fourth fewest in the NBA. 

Grade: C+

 

What's Next?

The Indiana Pacers have three more games to play before Santa Claus comes to town. They'll head home to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse for games against the Houston Rockets (December 20) and Boston Celtics (December 22) before traveling to Brooklyn to take on Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets on December 23. 

The defending NBA champions will finish up their five-game homestand against the Sacramento Kings on December 20 and Atlanta Hawks on December 23. Miami will then compete in one of the marquee matchups on Christmas Day, as they pay a visit to Staples Center to do battle with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

 

Follow NBA featured columnist/live blogger Christopher Walder on Twitter at @WalderSports.

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