Pacers lose the game and some players
MIAMI — Now it’s the Indiana Pacers’ turn to be concerned. Very concerned.
And they need to worry about more than falling to a 3-2 deficit in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.
The Pacers not only lost 115-83 Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, but they lost a pair of starting forwards along the way.
Small forward Danny Granger was lost for good in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle, initially sustained in the second period.
Shortly after Granger was lost, power forward David West went to the locker room with a sprained and bruised left knee.
And shorthanded was no way to play on a night LeBron James was scoring 30 points for the Heat and Dwyane Wade was adding 28.
“I’m fine,” West said. “I have a day to recoup. I’ll be ready. I would think Danny would be ready. We should be all right.”
Pacers coach Frank Vogel did not sound as sold.
“I don’t know about David. And Danny is just day-to-day,” he said. “Certainly not having Danny out there when you have a guy out there like LeBron James, it certainly challenges your depth.”
Vogel spoke of possibly needing to go in another direction.
“We just got to have other guys step up,” he said. “If you have any injury, you have to have other guys step up.”
The Heat had plenty who stepped up, including guard Mario Chalmers, who grabbed 11 rebounds, his career high, regular season or postseason. They also got forward Shane Battier out of his shooting slump, with three first-quarter 3-pointers on the way to 13 points.
Mostly, the Heat did in the Pacers with speed, closing with a 22-2 scoring edge on fast breaks.
“When we defend and rebound, we’re a good team and it allows us to get into our break,” James said.
James helped with the rebounding, with his 10 boards being part of the Heat’s 49-35 advantage on the boards.
“They kicked our butts, clearly,” Vogel said.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said a short memory is now essential for his team.
“This is our challenge right now, to leave it behind us,” he said of the third-largest margin of victory ever for the Heat, “and really commit to keep this edge.”
It was quite an edge, with the Heat shooting .614, their all-time best in the playoffs.
“We learned early in this series you don’t get two wins for a blowout,” Vogel said
The series continues Thursday with Game 6 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. A Game 7, if necessary, would be Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The winner of this series plays the winner of the Eastern Conference semifinal between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, with Boston up 3-2 headed into Wednesday’s Game 6.
Should the Celtics win Wednesday and the Heat win Thursday, the Eastern Conference finals would open Saturday on the Heat’s home court.
As has been the case this entire series, the third quarter was decisive, with the Heat outscoring Indiana 27-17 over those 12 minutes to take a 76-57 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Heat shot 9 of 15 in the third, paced by 12 points from James. Indiana shot 6 of 21 in the third, with no player scoring more than four for the Pacers in the period.
It got chippy, which has become typical in this series, in the second quarter, when Pacers reserve forward Tyler Hansbrough was called for a flagrant foul on Wade on one end and then Heat forward Udonis Haslem was called for a flagrant on Hansbrough on the other end.
From there, it got downright odd, with Pacers center Roy Hibbert draining a 3-pointer late in the second quarter as the shot clock expired. Hibbert had been 4-for-12 on 3-pointers in his career, and he hadn’t made one since 2010.
Shortly after that, the Pacers lost Granger with a sprained left ankle after he landed awkwardly on James’ foot on a wayward 3-point attempt.
The first half ended with the Heat up 49-40, with James beating the second quarter buzzer with a driving layup.
James led the Heat with 16 first-half points, supported by 11 from Wade. Granger led the Pacers with nine first-half points before heading to the locker room.
The Heat pushed their lead to 11 in the first period, their largest advantage in the series to that point, and took a 26-20 edge into the second period, with James closing the first-quarter scoring with a 3-pointer.
Miami, which opened 5-for-6 from the field compared to Indiana’s 1-for-5 start, could have expanded that lead if not for six first-quarter turnovers.
The matchup at power forward did not quite open according to script. While the Pacers’ West shot 0-for-5 in the first quarter, Miami’s Batter began by draining three 3-pointers in the opening period. Battier, starting in place of sidelined Chris Bosh, entered shooting 2-for-12 from 3-point range for the series.
NOTES: For the first time in the series, the Heat did not change its starting lineup from the previous game. … Spoelstra said Bosh (lower abdominal strain) also is out for Thursday’s Game 6, but he would not speculate beyond then. Bosh was injured in the first half of the first game of the Indiana series. … James downplayed the minutes he has been required to play in Bosh’s absence. “It’s the playoffs,” he said. “Everybody is fatigued at some point in time, and you just got to push through it.” … So why has Granger been so feisty this series? Lack of respect, he said. “We had the fourth- or fifth-best record in the NBA, and I think we had maybe one televised game,” he said of the regular season. “They had three or four teams that didn’t make the playoffs that had more televised games than us.” … The Heat distributed Haslem “Band-Aids” to employees and all in attendance after the Heat forward opened a nine-stitch gash above his right eye in Game 4. The “bandages” actually were paper stickers.