[Indianapolis, IN] There was a lot of bad blood between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers before Game 4 – on Sunday, in Indy – even got started.
In Game 3, Indiana’s Lance Stephenson gave LeBron James the “choke” sign after James missed 2 free throws. In warm-ups before Sunday’s game, Heat veteran and power forward Juwan Howard walked to the Pacers’ side of the court during pregame warm-ups and spoke to Stephenson.
Both exchanged words for several moments and stood chest to chest before some of Stephenson’s teammates broke up the encounter, which lasted less than a minute.
In Game 4, that physicality and intensity grew even more.
The Heat started the first quarter playing horribly, committing four turnovers which led to a 9-0 run from the Pacers to start the game. The Heat eventually were able to get on the scoreboard and cut the lead, but the Pacers kept at it.
Things got physical in the second quarter between both teams. The Heat cut the deficit from 7 to 1, but with around 2 minutes left, Granger knocked down a three-pointer to put the Pacers back up by 11.
Nearing halftime, things got chippy. Miami vet Dwyane Wade drove toward the basket, and was fouled hard by Roy Hibbert. Wade was frustrated by the call and when he was walking away, Granger got in Wade’s face. A technical foul was called on Granger.
Dwyane Wade scored 30 points in Game 4, helping the Miami Heat even the series
At halftime, the Pacers were up 54-46.
In Game 3, the Indiana Pacers couldn’t be stopped in the second half. Would game 4 follow suit? In a word … no.
In the third, Wade and James put on a show. Out of the 30 points scored by the Heat in the quarter, Wade and James combined to score 28 of them, with each getting 14 of those. In fact, from the second quarter and into the third, Wade and James had combined to score 38 consecutive points.
From the 8:11 mark on, the Heat went on a 25-9 run. At the end of three, the Miami Heat were up 76-70.
All the momentum was with the Heat and, now, the question was if they could keep the lead and close out the game.
D-Wade, LeBron and Udonis Haslem answered that question by playing practically unstoppable ball in the fourth. With around 9 minutes left, Louis Amundson elbowed Haslem while driving to the basket, which caused a large gash near Haslem’s eye.
After that incident, Haslem could not seemingly do no wrong (someone should elbow him in the face every night).
Haslem has been in a shooting slump for awhile now, but in the fourth quarter, his shot was falling and he was looking more and more like his old self. Haslem scored 12 points in the 4Q and made important shots down the stretch.
Dwyane Wade scored 8 points and LeBron James scored 5 points, with a couple of late free throws to close the game. The final score was Heat 101, Pacers 93.
The Heat needed big performances out of both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to get the “W,” and they got it.
“Both of those guys knew they had to be actively involved,” Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James ended up with 40 points, 18 rebounds, and had 9 assists. Wade scored 30 points and had 9 rebounds. Udonis Haslem scored 14 points, with 12 of those points coming in the final quarter.
The Heat showed a lot of heart and defiance in this game. All the physical altercations and smack talk from the Pacers only motivated the Heat even more. If the Heat can continue to play like they did in this game, there is no doubt they will win the series.
Game 5 is Tuesday in Miami. It is going to be a war.
By: Michael Tristani II/Sunshine Slate
Lead image: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)