Heat-Pacers Preview

The Miami Heat were sloppy in a humbling loss to a fellow elite

team. They figure to get back on track quickly the way LeBron James

has played during a win streak over the Indiana Pacers.

James and the Heat conclude a three-game trip Monday night as

they look to defeat the Pacers for the sixth straight time.

Miami (35-12) failed a major test Sunday, falling 103-87 at

Oklahoma City as its four-game win streak was snapped. The Thunder

shot 52.7 percent – the highest mark allowed by the Heat in their

last 26 games in Miami’s worst loss of the season.

“They jumped us, everybody saw it, they had us on their heels

and they were the aggressors,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Even

when we were able to crawl back into the game, they were able to

play to more of their identity than we were and they were much more

physical and forceful.”

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 22 points and James had 17 points and

seven assists, but the stars combined for 10 turnovers. Oklahoma

City scored 28 points off 21 turnovers.

“Some of them were attack turnovers, some of them were careless

turnovers,” James said. “We started the game with a turnover. From

there on, we turned the ball over, gave up was it 21 turnovers for

28 points on someone else’s home floor, you’re never going to win a

game like that.”

The two-time league MVP has been nothing short of sensational

during the five-game run over Indiana (28-19), averaging 30.2

points and 7.4 assists. His assist-to-turnover ratio in three

victories this season is three-to-one.

Miami’s defense has been outstanding against Indiana leading

scorer Danny Granger, averaging 9.3 points on 29.4 percent shooting

in the season series.

The Heat have outrebounded the Pacers by an average margin of

10.3 boards, but Spoelstra expects a tough contest Monday.

“We’ve got a plane ride tonight and have to get prepared for

another physical team that’ll challenge us on their home court in

the same manner,” Spoelstra said.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel was beaming with pride for how physical

his team was in Saturday’s 125-104 rout at Milwaukee. Indiana held

a 49-25 advantage on the glass and attempted 39 free throws.

“We want to be a smash-mouth basketball team, which for us is to

play a power post game, pound it inside and live at the free throw

line,” Vogel said. “We don’t always execute that identity, but

tonight we did.”

George Hill led Indiana with 24 points, Roy Hibbert had 16 and

Granger and David West each chipped in with 15.

Reserve forward Tyler Hansbrough was set to get an X-ray on his

cheekbone after Milwaukee’s Mike Dunleavy was assessed a Flagrant-1

foul for a hard knock that sent Hansbrough to the floor. Hansbrough

did return after the fourth-quarter incident.

“Whatever happened, I was upset,” Hansbrough said. “I’m just

upset because I got fouled pretty hard. Stuff like that

happens.”

The Heat have won four straight in Indiana to improve to 9-34

there all-time.