INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George made no attempt to downplay the importance of his matchup with LeBron James. “It’s a chance to for me to see where I’m at, going against one of the best, if not the best, in the league,” George said.
“Another challenge to myself to go at LeBron. I definitely wanted to battle him.” George rose to the occasion with 29 points and 11 rebounds and the Pacers held Miami to a season-low points total in an 87-77 win over the Heat on Tuesday night.
Dwyane Wade scored 30 points and James had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Miami (23-10) which still has the best record in the Eastern Conference. It was the first time the teams met since Miami beat the Pacers in six games in the last conference semifinals.
The Pacers out-rebounded the Heat 55-36 to help make up for 36 percent shooting. “That was a big emphasis tonight,” George said. “Miami is a team that, for as good as they are, they struggle with rebounding. We knew that coming in. We knew that we had to get the boards. And we’re bigger. We’re a big team.”
Miami entered the game leading the NBA in field goal percentage, while Indiana led the league in field goal percentage defense. The matchup resulted in the Heat scoring only 35 points in the second half, their lowest-scoring half of the season.
“Offensively, we did not have a very fluid game on that side of the court,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. The Heat found their offensive flow in the early minutes of the second half. A 3-pointer by Mario Chalmers gave the Heat a 51-44 lead and caused the Pacers to call a timeout but Indiana rallied. The Pacers made 5 of 8 from 3-point range in the period.
Miami scored just 15 points on 7-for-18 shooting in the third and Wade went scoreless. The Heat take on the Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time Thursday, Jan. 10, in Portland.