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.