The Pacers held multiple 14-point leads over the Heat tonight, but LeBron James turned it up a notch in the final minutes of the game. He finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists in their 117-112 win.
The Pacers had a shot at the end, but fumbled it away.
They were down just one point with eight seconds left, before Eddie House hit two free throws to put them up by three. Indiana had no timeouts left, and Dahntay Jones failed to get the ball inbounded before a five-second call was made. Then, Miami made two more free throws.
The game was over.
Roy Hibbert led the way for Indiana with another solid performance. He ended up with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Danny Granger was just behind him with 19 points. Tyler Hansbrough put in 18 points off the bench, while Darren Collison finished with 15 points, eight assists, and five rebounds.
From a statistical standpoint, all of the numbers were very close.
Both teams shot just above 50%, while free throws, assists, steals, blocks, and rebounds were all almost identical. Miami was able to execute in the final minutes, while the Pacers couldn't.
If you would have taken a poll before the game, most people would have chalked this one up as a 20 point blowout—me included. The fact that they had the Heat on the ropes after beating them in Miami earlier in the year will only give them more confidence as they get back to their "softer" part of the schedule.
The Pacers' four-game winning streak is now something of the past, and they must concentrate on starting a new streak tomorrow night. Vogel is now 4-1 as the head coach of this team, but was within a couple of shots from being an impressive 5-0.
The players have all shown improvement since the coaching change, and is evidenced on the court. They are confident, healthy, and having fun playing. They are improving with each game, and it couldn't come at a more critical time.
If they are to make the playoffs, they'll need to win a few crucial games coming up.
They have been notorious for winning big games against the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, and Mavericks, but they struggle against teams that are in the same position as they are, such as the Sixers, Bucks, Bobcats, and Pistons.
The Bobcats defeated the Celtics last night, so this game can not be taken for granted. They will have to come out with the same passion and intensity as they have shown the past five games. If they do that, there should be no reason why they can't win a few more games before the All-Star break.
Moral victories don't really count for much, which is why they are just moral victories. The Pacers can move on to tomorrow night's game feeling much better now than they would have if they had lost by 20 points.