The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — Roy Hibbert scored 24 points and Paul George had 15 of his 17 points during a second-half rally to lead the Pacers past Miami 90-84 Tuesday night in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.
Indiana improved its league-best record to 19-3 and extended its lead to three full games by beating Miami at home for the fourth straight time.
LeBron James led the Heat with 17 points, 14 rebounds and six assists but had only three baskets and nine points over the final 36 minutes. Dwyane Wade also scored 17 for Miami, which has now lost three of five.
The Heat led by 13 in the first half and didn’t trail until Hibbert completed a three-point play with 6:12 left in the third quarter to put the Pacers ahead 58-57. But with George heating up, Hibbert dominating the middle and Indiana’s bench playing solid, Miami couldn’t tie it or take the lead again.
The difference for Indiana, as usual, was the third quarter.
Only this time, the knockout punch came with much more significance against the two-time champs.
Indiana, which made a late charge from a 13-point deficit late in the first half to close to 47-40 at halftime, opened the third with back-to-back baskets including the Pacers’ first 3-pointer of the game to close the deficit to four. Indiana finally tied the score at 55 when George Hill hit a 3 with 8:15 left in the third.
Hibbert’s second three-point play of the quarter finally gave Indiana its first lead, 58-57, with 6:12 to go, and then George went to work. The NBA’s No. 4 scorer managed only two points in the first half and made his first basket with 3:51 to go in the third but still managed to score 12 in a quarter that the Pacers took a 68-64 lead.
The surge didn’t stop there.
When Hibbert returned early in the fourth, the Pacers immediately went to him on back-to-back possessions, starting the decisive 12-6 run that gave Indiana an 82-74 lead with 4:59 to go.
Spurs 116, Raptors 103: TORONTO — Manu Ginobili scored 16 points, Tony Parker had 15 and San Antonio beat Toronto for the sixth straight time.
Tim Duncan scored 14 points and Aron Baynes had a career-best 14 as the Spurs overcame a 14-point first quarter deficit to improve to 26-9 all-time against Toronto.
San Antonio has won three of six since its 11-game winning streak was halted with a loss at Oklahoma City on Nov. 27.
Danny Green had 14 points for the Spurs, while Marco Belinelli had 12 and Patty Mills 11.
DeMar DeRozan scored 19 points and Amir Johnson had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Raptors, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Cavs 109, Knicks 94: CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving scored 37 points and Jarrett Jack added 17 points, leading Cleveland past sinking New York.
Irving added 11 assists. The All-Star point guard had 12 points in the third quarter, when the Cavs outscored the defenseless Knicks 33-20 and pulled away. Tristan Thompson added 12 points and nine rebounds as Cleveland won its fourth straight at home.
Timberwolves 94, Pistons 94: AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Kevin Love had 26 points and 16 rebounds to lead Minnesota.
Love only played 30 minutes, sitting out the fourth quarter with the big lead. Detroit was unable to stop him inside, outside or on the break. Several of his seven assists came on his trademark 70-foot outlet passes off missed shots.
Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin added 18 points each for Minnesota, which finished with six players in double figures.
Brandon Jennings had 20 points for Detroit, but Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were held to a combined total of 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Pistons have relied heavily on their frontcourt this season, but didn’t have the advantage in that matchup against Minnesota.
Bucks 78, Bulls 74: CHICAGO — John Henson had 25 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots, and Milwaukee beat Chicago in a matchup of injury-riddled teams trying to break out of a slump.
Brandon Knight added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee, which had dropped three of four. O.J. Mayo was just 2 for 12 from the field, but had seven assists and made a couple of big plays in the fourth quarter.
Chicago used only eight players after Joakim Noah was sidelined by a bruised right thigh. Carlos Boozer was the only starter in the lineup from the season opener at Miami.
Mike Dunleavy scored 18 of his 24 points in the second quarter, but the Bulls struggled on offense in the latter part of their fourth loss in five games. Boozer finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
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