Indiana’s starting lineup including Roy Hillbert # 55, George Hill # 3, Danny Granger # 33, and Lance Stephenson # 1, start the game with some authority at times taking a 7-point lead over Miami. But Miami’s Lebron James # 6, Chris Bosh # 1, Dwyane Wade # 3, Mario Chalmers # 15 and Ray Allen # 34 came prepared.
Q1 LeBron runs in with a reverse lay-up (16-24). That angers the Pacers and LeBron takes a right hook smack in the chin, the elbow knocks his head backwards, but he stays grounded with two feet firmly planted on the floor, maintaining his balance (16-26).
Ray Allen goes for 2. He misses but gets the rebound. Q1 1:35 (18-26). That should have been an offensive foul on Stephenson not a foul on Chris Andersen “Birdman” # 11. Allen goes under the rim with 42 seconds. Paul George # 24 is on LeBron’s back side like a dog in heat. (20-28). LeBron bounce passes to Ray Allen, who uses his back side as defense and his front side as offense. Jumping back with his backside, he gains some space between himself and the defender, then does a left turn reverse and lift-off to the rim. (Q2 20-30). LeBron makes a quick turnaround to back off the defense. “Get back, Jack” (23-34). Joel Anthony’s tight defense shuts down Ian Mahinmi # 28. George trips LeBron. Now Ray Allen is on George. Battier, chest to chest, pushes out Ian Mahinmi. Joel sets the screen allowing Wade to do what he does with a mid range jump shot – go for 2. Joel Anthony is defending with hands up and arms waving.
David West # 21 receives the ball to his far right with Shane Battier on him like white on rice. Some good defense but one too many pushes adds a second foul on Battier and sends West to the line with a 6-point opportunity. Allen throws down 3. (33-39). Wade steals but Johnson # 11 claws a foul.
Shooting 56 percent, Wade skips into the paint for 2, with LeBron out of the game (33-41 Q2 6:38). Chalmers gets inside the lion’s den, but steps across the base line. Well, he still gets his 2 at the line. We’ll take that. Hey Ref, you overlooked that shuffle by # 11. That was a travel. Allen hits a smooth 3, unfortunately it’s after a 3-second violation call against Indiana. So Allen goes to the line for 2 (37-44). A near steal by Joel Anthony sends the ball out-of-bounds. With arms and legs spread wide, Bosh blocks the entire paint. No one gets through. Only after Bosh gives up his position and stance does Indiana get to the rim. Chalmers motorcycles in to the paint so fast, he’s in the blind spot of the defense. Wade’s tight defense helps to evaporate the shot clock before Indiana can shoot (44-50). Indiana’s game play is to keep the ball from LeBron James, but D. Wade fills in (44-52). Joel Anthony goes up in the air to protect the basket.
The game is turning into a dog fight, Hibbert # 55 holds Joel Anthony, West # 21 hits LeBron in the chin, again. “Okay, that’s the way you want to play,” LeBron says, “I’ve got something for you”, he looks down into his soul, then looks up to the rim with determination and starts down the path on his way into the paint with 4 cougars in yellow staring down his throat. Looks never hurt anyone, especially not LeBron, he hammers it in. “Take that.” Half time Miami Heat is smoking ahead by 10. (46-56).
Q3 Turning up the heat as necessary, LeBron gets physical with Stephensen and Hibbert hammering down on him, LeBron takes flight in American Airlines Arena, going up in altitude he finds the rim (53-66). Bosh gets a steal but gets knocked down. Indiana’s West and George try to take him out (53-68). He goes down sending the team in a huddle. LeBron hits 3 to beat the shot clock. Chalmers steals then hits 3 for a 20 point lead (53-73). Heat has outscored the Pacers 35 to 9 (6:59 Q3). Udonis Haslem jumps and stretches for the rebound. Stephenson fouls Wade.
Joel Anthony goes down with a flip. George Hill fouls Wade. Can they do it? The question lingers. Both teams need to close this deal. The Heat needs to maintain its 18 game winning streak. The Pacers need to gain a lead over the New York Knicks.
Stephenson # 1 goes down and is slow getting up (56-79 Q3). Juwan Howard # 5 of fab 5 is looking good in his lavender shirt and suit on the sidelines; almost looking as good as Eric Reid in his dapper-dan lavender shirt and suit. Thank you Refs for not ruling a flagrant, but a common fowl on Shane Battier. Haslem picks up a 3rd foul sending David West to the line. Allen stumbles in the paint he goes down the ball goes the other way (62-79).
Chris Anderson with birds and flowers adds color stomping through the paint. Stephenson # 1 drives in from the corner. Birdman bounces in the paint ready for the rebound but the ball goes in. Wade goes down. The Heat has gained 21 points off 14 Indiana turnovers. LeBron chases down Paul George. What had been a Heat 23 point lead against Indiana evaporates down to 14 by the end of Q3.
On Wade’s 4th steal, he sends a pass around the body of the defender to Birdman (Q4 67-79). That sends Indiana’s Coach berserk. He gets a technical. Wade’s 5th steal sends the score up 67-84 (10:28 Q4). Wade is sweating and chewing gum, scars all over his shoulders; could be passion marks or the remnants of being knifed up in the jungle by NBA defenders. Bosh hits his 18th point over Hibbert. Allen gets a 3rd foul. Andersen is the clean up man. Bosh is open for a jammer with 8:57 left in Q4. Fans are screaming like crazy. Wade gets fouled after the whistle but did you see the play after the whistle. Andersen’s reverse backwards lay-up slam. The bird took flight. He’s our man. (74-90) Bosh has to shoot to beat the clock. Leave it to Bosh, he cleans up ( 77-92). Bosh is forced to hit a bucket (80-94) Hibbert over Bosh and Andersen 82-94. Chalmers runs in but gets grabbed like “Can I have his dance?” That sends him twirling around (82-95). Good deflection off West. Heat ball. (82-96 5:04). Chalmers goes in and nearly gets ambushed but Wade cleans up (82-100). Another steal by Wade puts him one steal away from his season high. The Miami Heat forces 18 turnovers. Miami is up by 16 with 3 min remaining, they turn up the Heat. LeBron out-jumps # 1. Chalmers for 3 (84-105 2:34). Now the Heat is up 21 with 2:25. Wade and LeBron leave the court allowing the bench to get some airtime. With Chalmers’ 26 points, Bosh’s 24 points, D.Wade’s 23 points, and LeBron’s 13 points, the Miami Heat emerges with a final score of 91- 105 and a victory over all their other 21 opponents. The Heat and Denver hold the best record at home with 28 wins and 3 loses. Only 21 more games in the regular season.