Heat offense puts away Pacers 114-96 in Game 3

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 27, 2013 at 12:05 am •  Published: May 27, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers thought they had everything covered Sunday night.

Then, suddenly, Paul George found himself defending the post against LeBron James.

It didn't work out so well.

By moving James to the post, the Heat won the scoring battle in the paint, kept Indiana at arm's length and pulled away for a 114-96 victory and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

"It's different for me," George said. "I've never really been in that position this year really, guarding guys on the post, so I've just got to learn how to make sure I use my tools and my weapons down there."

The Pacers and their sellout crowd expected a far better performance two nights after Indiana had pulled off a stunning upset at Miami to the tie best-of-seven series.

Fans, poised to party on the biggest sports weekend in Indy, wore blue and white shirts creating a checkered flag look in the stands just 5½ hours after the Indianapolis 500 was completed a few miles away. The raucous fans were noisy until the game started to get away from Indiana in the second quarter and never became much of a factor afterward.

Indiana had won its first six playoff home games, and fans were hoping the Pacers could continue the trend and head back to Miami with a two-game series lead.

Instead, Miami's adjustment changed everything.

David West led Indiana with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Paul George finished with 13 points and eight assists, not nearly enough.

"If you're not perfect guarding them, they'll do what they did to us tonight," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Sometimes when you are perfect with your coverages, they still find a way to make baskets. But we didn't have a great defensive night."

The move to the post was reminiscent of when the Los Angeles Lakers played Magic Johnson in the post in place of the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the NBA Finals more than two decades ago.

And it worked just as well.

James rebounded from the two late turnovers that cost Miami in Game 2 by scoring 22 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists. Hours after Dwyane Wade learned he would only be tagged with a flagrant foul from Game 2 and not a suspension, he finished with 18 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Chris Bosh added 15 points and three rebounds and all five Miami starters reached double figures.

The move allowed Miami to outscore Indiana 56-32 in the paint.

Perhaps that much should be expected from a team with this much scoring punch and that has won 23 of its last 24 on the road.

The other stuff, not so much.

Miami committed a playoff franchise-low one turnover in the first half and finished with only five. James finished with none.

The Heat shot 54.5 percent against a team that finished the regular season with the NBA's best defensive field goal percentage and also made 24 of 28 free throws. They matched the highest scoring output in a quarter during this season's playoffs with 34, broke the franchise playoff record for points in a half (70) and fell one point short of tying the third-highest point total in a playoff game in franchise history.

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