INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers weren’t the only ones with this game circled on the calendar.
The defending champion Miami Heat had to hear all summer about the Pacers’ improved depth, their internal growth, and their budding rivalry with a Miami team that knocked them out of the playoffs in 2012 and 2013. The Heat roared out of the gate in their first meeting with the Pacers since downing Indiana in Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference finals, grabbing a 30-19 first-quarter lead before Indiana used its height and defensive smarts to slowly chip away and eventually down the two-time defending champs, 90-84 .
Pacers center Roy Hibbert is used to working as the game’s most important player on the defensive end, but the big man worked as his team’s go-to offensive force during Indiana’s second-half comeback. Hibbert routinely found his way to the front of the rim against the slow-to-rotate Heat defense in the second half, piling up 15 second-half points on his way to a 24-point night against the undersized Miami front line. Swingman Paul George overcame a miserable first half to finish with 17 points in the win, while the Indiana defense completely flummoxed Miami in the second half, holding them to just 37 points in the term.
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While Rudy Gay moving to the Sacramento Kings was the headline news of the big seven-player trade agreed to Sunday and completed Monday, the swap also sent Kings starting point guard Greivis Vasquez back east to the Toronto Raptors, elevating Isaiah Thomas — who had been sensational off the Sacramento bench this season — back to the starting lineup. And in his first start of the season against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, the third-year dynamo wasted no time in making Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro and head coach Mike Malone look like they'd made the right choice.
Thomas began the game on fire, scoring 10 points in the first six minutes to push the Kings to an 11-point advantage and imbuing the Sacramento offense with the sort of electricity for which he's become known as one of the league's top reserve scorers and playmakers. By the midway point of the first quarter, he'd canned two 3-pointers, set up a Jason Thompson jumper, darted into the passing lane for a steal that led to a runout layup, and blown past Dallas point guard Jose Calderon on this quick little hesitation move:
(It's also always nice when the help defense actually hurts.)
The 24-year-old Washington product showed there was more to his game than bursting to the rim and pulling up from long-distance, though — check out this second-quarter contest of an attempted dunk by Mavericks center Bernard James:
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Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Corey Brewer has been fined $5,000 for a second violation of the NBA's anti-flopping policy, the NBA announced Monday . The simulation in question took place with 2:51 left in the first quarter of the Wolves' 103-82 home loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday, as Brewer elected to embellish the contact he received from Heat star LeBron James while the two vied for a rebound of a missed Ray Allen 3-pointer: Brewer had previously been warned for this explosive fall during a Wolves win over the New York Knicks on Nov. 3: ... meaning that going all dead-weight/flailing-arms after being bumped by LeBron will cost him $5,000, per the NBA's flop penalty schedule: Violation 1: Warning Violation 2: $5,000 fine Violation 3: $10,000 fine Violation 4: $15,000 fine Violation 5: $30,000 fine Violation 6: Subject to discipline reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension Brewer is the second player to be slapped with a flop fine this season. Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden lit this year's candle after just seven games, having to pony up $5,000 in early November after a "collision" with Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin. The league introduced a system to penalize flopping before the start of the 2012-13 NBA season, and upgraded penalties for last year's playoffs, eliminating the warning strike and hitting simulators with a $5,000 fine from the first transgression. Nineteen players ran afoul of the new rule last season, with the first warnings handed out to J.J. Barea and Donald Sloan, and the first fine levied against Reggie Evans. Four players besides Evans — Gerald Wallace , Barea , Kevin Martin and Omer Asik — received $5,000 flopping fines during the regular season, and eight players — Derek Fisher , Jeff Pendergraph , J.R. Smith , Tony Allen , LeBron James, David West and Lance Stephenson , and Chris Bosh — were dinged $5,000 during the postseason. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
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