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Pacers show no fear in routing Heat

The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Miami Heat may have the best record in the Eastern Conference, but the Indiana Pacers proved again they don't have any fear of the defending NBA champions.

The Pacers beat the Heat for the second time this season, 102-89, in front of a sellout crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday.

"Really proud of our guys for playing with great intensity and focus for 48 minutes," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "They are a great team and you have to play great to beat them."

The Pacers have won 13 straight at home, their longest streak since the 2002-03 season.

Pacers forward David West set the tempo for his team by scoring 30 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

Paul George had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Pacers, and Lance Stephenson added 15 points.

The Pacers aren't sugarcoating the win. They didn't look at Friday's victory as just any other victory. They know it means a lot because of whom they beat and their desire to push for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami beat the Pacers 4-2 in the second round of the playoffs last season.

"They're one of the best teams in the NBA, so it's good to beat them," West said. "We match up with them, and I think we have some familiarity with them from the playoff series."

LeBron James had 28 points for the Heat, while Dwyane Wade scored 17 points.

The Pacers ended the first quarter with a two-point lead, but then gradually pulled away against the Heat.

West scored 16 points in the first half when the Pacers pushed their lead to eight at the break.

It was in the third quarter when Indiana broke the game open.

The Pacers used a 12-3 run midway through the quarter to turn a 10-point lead into a 19-point cushion.

"They played a very good basketball game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They beat us on both ends of the fair and square."

Center Roy Hibbert, who was scoreless in the first half, scored seven points in the third quarter.

"The third quarter is what made the difference," James said. "They were able to come out and establish themselves. David West got it going for them. He had a great game."

The Pacers handled all the pressure the Heat threw at them as Miami scrambled to get back in the game. Miami didn't get any closer than 12 points the rest of the game.

The Pacers, who have struggled at times offensively, shot 56 percent from the field.

"I feel like anytime we play as a team and play together on the offensive end and the defensive end, we're a tough team to beat," Pacers guard George Hill said.

NOTES: The Pacers play the league's only back-to-back-to-back games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia, respectively. ... Pacers small forward Paul George said he's looking forward to playing with Heat do-everything forward LeBron James the most during the All-Star Game because he considers him the premier player in the world. ... Pacers small forward Danny Granger took part in his first live action of the season when he scrimmaged in the halfcourt for 20 minutes during practice Thursday. The Pacers want Granger to play in a game or two before the All-Star break so that he can knock the rust off and be ready for the stretch run after the break. ... James said the biggest difference he sees out of George is his confidence, which has been helped by Granger's absence in the lineup. ... Sam Young, who earlier this week was re-signed by the Pacers for the rest of the season, played in his first game after dealing with a sprained left ankle for the past month. ... Heat veteran guard Ray Allen was held scoreless for the third time in his career, with two of those games coming against the Pacers this season.
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