Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/8/13
INDIANAPOLIS -- It wasn't a playoff game, but the Indiana Pacers showed they can hang with the Miami Heat. The Pacers beat the defending NBA champions 87-77 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday night. The victory was the eighth straight at home for the Pacers. "A great team win, a real solid effort on the glass," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We had great contributions from a number of people and our defense held up guarding the paint." What made the Pacers even more impressive was that the Pacers were without forward Danny Granger (knee), point guard George Hill (sickness) sat out the fourth quarter and center Roy Hibbert was ineffective offensively. Paul George took care of things for the Pacers. He finished with 29 points. Dwyane Wade led Miami with 29 points. LeBron James added 22 points. "Tonight I really wanted to attack," George said. "My guys did a good job of getting me open and I was able to knock in shots." The Pacers tried to downplay the game, but they knew needed to send a message to the Heat after they were beaten by them 4-2 in the second round of the playoffs last season. The Pacers led 2-1 and had an eight-point lead at halftime of Game 4 before James took over. "It's always a confidence booster to beat a team like Miami," Vogel said. "What happened last year, this is not any redemption. Beating them in the playoffs would be redemption. This is just one win. We're happy about it, but nothing more than that." The Heat opened the second half by scoring nine of the first 11 points to take a seven-point lead. But that's when George woke up. George, who had a brutal series against Miami in the playoffs last season, scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the quarter. He made back-to-back 3-pointers during a 12-2 run to give the Pacers a 10-point lead. He walked down court with the confidence that he was the best player on the court after the second 3-pointer. "I just think it's all about confidence and opportunity," James said. "The simple fact that Danny Granger is hurt has given him an opportunity to showcase what he's capable of doing. He's going out there and doing a little bit of everything. He's rebounding, he's scoring, he's making plays. It's not like he hasn't been there. He was that player last year, but he wasn't able to come out of it because he wasn't as featured as he is now.” The Pacers eventually pushed their lead to 17 in the fourth quarter before the Heat pulled to within eight with less than 90 seconds left. Neither team shot well -- the Pacers at 35 percent and the Heat at 41 percent -- in the first half. They went into the half tied at 42-42. The Pacers felt fortunate to be tied because Wade dominated the first 24 minutes, scoring 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting. George had only seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in the first half. "We had a good charge all the way until the third quarter," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Until then, then they took their time and they absolutely controlled the game form that point on." NOTES: Vogel signed a multi-year contract extension earlier this week. Vogel, who took over for the fired Jim O'Brien in January 2011, went into Tuesday's game against Miami with an 82-56 record, including back-to-back playoff appearances. "We've established a great connection with our community the last two years, both on and off the court and I look forward to continuing that," Vogel said. ... The 77 points were a season low for the Heat. ... James was the only Heat player to score in double digits in the second half. He had 14 points. ... Miami, known for its defense, only forced the Pacers into nine turnovers. ... The Pacers released small forward Sam Young over the weekend prior to the league's deadline for contracts becoming guaranteed. Young is expected to be out several weeks with severe left ankle sprain. The Pacers signed forward Dominic McGuire to a 10-day contract to take Young's spot on the roster. ... Former Pacers greats (coach) Bobby "Slick" Leonard, George McGinnis, Roger Brown and Freddie Lewis and current team president Donnie Walsh are nominees for this year's Hall of Fame class.
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