Heat finish their road trip against Pacers
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.