Heat get off to fast start, dominate Pacers
INDIANAPOLIS -- And just like that -- in less than a half -- home-court advantage is back in the Miami Heat's hands.
The Heat took it back in grand fashion when they dominated the Indiana Pacers from start to finish in their 114-96 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday.
The Heat lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 is back at the Fieldhouse on Tuesday.
"We just tried to focus not the task of playing one possession at a time and trying to play those possessions well," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We had a lot of contributions tonight. So it was a good step forward. But we know how competitive this series is."
LeBron James led all scorers with 22 points, and Dwyane Wade added 18 points for the Heat. David West and Roy Hibbert combined for 41 points and 27 rebounds for the Pacers.
Indiana won't have a chance to win the series if it continues to let Miami's offense have its way. The Heat shot 54.5 percent from the field, and the Pacers forced only five turnovers. Miami scored 52 points in the paint.
"I thought they did a good job of moving the ball," West said. "They were getting it moved around the perimeter and guys made shots. I thought maybe we were a step or a step and a half too late."
Indiana shot 39.7 percent, gave the ball away 10 times and scored 36 points inside.
The Pacers take pride in their defensive work, but the Heat made them look like an ordinary team on that end of the court.
Miami, at its best when attacking the basket, scored 34 points in the paint en route to a 70-56 halftime lead. The Heat had 60 inside points, including 40 in the second half and overtime, in its Game 1 win.
The 70 first-half points represented the highest total ever allowed by the Pacers in any half of a postseason game.
"Obviously they're one of the great teams that this league has seen, defending champs on an historic run this year," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "If you're not perfect guarding them, they'll do what they did to us tonight. Sometimes when you are perfect with your coverages, they still find a way to make baskets."
The Pacers made things interesting momentarily in the third quarter when they got to back to within seven on a Hibbert three-point play, but that was the closest they would get.
The Heat never felt threatened because they responded by getting a basket from Wade, James or Mario Chalmers, who managed to beat George Hill off the dribble on a regular basis. Miami led by as many as 16 points late in the third quarter and by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter.
"I think we understand this is a very good team," Wade said. "The game of basketball is a game full of runs. Once the pushed it down to seven, we got a chance to push it right back to keep a comfortable lead."
West wound up with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Hibbert produced 20 points and 17 boards. Hill scored 19. Paul George shot 3-for-10 and scored 13 points. He added eight assists.
The Heat did a good job running their offense down low early in Game 3, with James posting up on a regular basis.
The Heat finally got James and Wade some help in the scoring department.
Haslem, who has struggled defensively against Hibbert and West, made his first six shot attempts and scored 13 points to go with five rebounds in the first half. He finished the night with 17 points and seven rebounds.
"He was the guy who pushed them, the catalyst for them tonight," Hibbert said. "Just him hitting those shots really made us have to think on defense, who do we guard? Do we guard the paint or do we have to go out to the shooters in the corner?
"He was hitting tonight. And our game plan was to limit those guys, make sure they got nothing and let the Big Three do all the work and limit those guys. And he was the one that really pushed them over the edge."
Chris Bosh scored 15 points and Chalmers had 14 as all five Miami starters reached double figures.
NOTES: The NBA assessed Wade a flagrant foul for his elbow to the head of Pacers G Lance Stephenson in the second half of Game 2, but Wade wasn't suspended. No foul was called on the play at the time. The league did not upgrade West's elbow on Mario Chalmers on a screen to a foul. ... Pacers G/F Sam Young returned to the lineup after missing most of the second half of Game 2 with a sprained ankle. ... Heat G Ray Allen's 3-pointer late in the first half gave him his first points of the season against the Pacers in Indianapolis. He had been 0-of-11 from the field at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.