Pacers reaction after their Game 2 win:
Chris Bosh’s injury cracked open the window of opportunity for the Pacers Tuesday night.
The Heat’s dismal third-quarter shooting opened it even more.
And the Pacers plowed right through that window in Game 2, unleashing a 20-4 third quarter run and escaping AmericanAirlines Arena with a win that evened this series at one.
They did it by bottling up the Heat defensively for much of the second half, dominating the boards (50-40) and dramatically improving their offensive efficiency during much of the second half.
“Huge win for the franchise,” Pacers forward Danny Granger said. “But we expect to win. We’re not saying we hope we win because we’re playing the Miami Heat. We expect to win. We know we're not the underdog.”
The Pacers said were not excessively exuberant after the win – though Wade disagreed. “We don’t need confetti,” George Hill cracked. “We’ve got to expect to win. We’ve been there.”
As the Pacers left the floor, David West told his teammates, “It’s just one game.” Said West, later: “We can’t get too excited because we won one game.”
Several Pacers noted that beyond LeBron James’ 28 and Dwyane Wade’s 24, no other Heat player scored more than five. The Heat shot 34.6 percent from field, which helped Indiana overcome 37.8 percent accuracy.
“Our guys competed harder than the entire season,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “Guarding the Orlando Magic’s spread offense [in the first round] helped us understand how to slow down their small lineup. Stan Van Gundy’s defensive system is similar to Erik Spoelstra’s defensive system.”
Among the key plays for Indiana down the stretch: Leandro Barbosa’s driving layup to put Indiana ahead for good with 3:55 left, West’s nifty move around James for a layup that pushed the lead to three; Paul George blocking a James layup with 1:21 left; and Barbosa corralling a long rebound on West’s miss, then passing to Hibbert, who made a free throw with 32 seconds left, putting the Pacers up two.
With 16 seconds left, Wade swerved about Hill, but badly missed a layup. “I tried to take away his left,” Hill said. “When I stepped back, he tried to go into me, which threw him off balance. I was shocked he missed. He’s a great player and normally makes it.”
Darren Collison offered resistance on Mario Chalmers’ missed three-pointer with 3.8 seconds left. Chalmers claimed afterward that he was fouled.
Of course, what helped the Pacers the most was the Heat shooting 5 for 10 on free throws in the fourth quarter. James was 4 for 8 from the line in the fourth, and Wade 1 for 2.
West made a big difference, collecting 14 points after halftime – seven in the third, seven in the fourth. “He’s our backbone, our leader, led us in the huddles,” Vogel said.
The Pacers survived two more poor shooting games from Danny Granger (5 for 14, 11 points) and Paul George (4 for 11, 10 points). But Granger and George came alive briefly during the Pacers’ terrific third quarter, with Granger hitting 3 of 5 shots and George making 2 of 4 in the period. “Me and Danny didn’t score and we’re still able to win,” George reminded reporters.
Roy Hibbert had seven points and four rebounds in the first nine minutes of the game, but took only two shots the rest of the way, his only point in the final three quarters coming on the free throw with 32 seconds left, leaving the Pacers’ lead at 77-75.
The Pacers missed 17 of 19 during a 12-plus minute stretch that began midway through the first quarter, but rallied with a 9-0 run. Then, with the Heat shooting blanks (2 for 13 in the first nine minutes of the third quarter), Indy erupted on a 12-0 third quarter stampede that eventually turned into a 20-4 run and a 61-50 lead.
Vogel told his team at halftime to “take a deep breath, calm down.” The Pacers squandered all of that lead, with the Heat surging ahead, 72-71, before Indiana went back ahead for good on Barbosa’s driving layup.
### Granger and James exchanged words after the two got tangled up following a James basket in the fourth quarter and the Pacers leading, 65-62. Both received technical fouls. “I got an elbow and he probably felt like he got an elbow,” Granger said. “It got chippy. It’s real playoff basketball.”