Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Pacers open with force on offense to top Heat

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is done talking about home-court advantage.

The top-seeded Pacers are ready to use it against the two-time defending champion Heat.

They took the first step Sunday, when Paul George had 24 points and seven assists, David West added 19 points and seven rebounds, and suddenly surging Indiana led wire-to-wire in a 107-96 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.

"This is just a fun matchup," George said. "It's one that we've been waiting for all year."

For the first time in these playoffs, the Pacers won a series opener. And for the first time in their past three playoff battles against the Heat, the Pacers won Game 1.

Game 2 is Tuesday night. The home team has won all five games in this season's fiercest and most competitive rivalry, though none was more impressive or important than this one.

Every Indiana starter and backup C.J. Watson scored in double figures as Indiana had its highest point total of the playoffs.

The Heat had just four offensive rebounds and 6-of-23 shooting from 3-point range. LeBron James went 1 of 5 on 3s and shot two free throws; Miami fell so far behind so fast, it never even had a chance to tie the score.

Sure, opening this best-of-seven series at Bankers Life Fieldhouse helped. The hometown crowd that sometimes serenaded the Pacers with boos during the first two rounds stood most of the first half, chanted "De-fense" every time it looked as if the Heat might come back and finished the game with its customary chant of "Beat The Heat!"

Roy Hibbert had 19 points and nine rebounds, Lance Stephenson had 17 points and eight assists and George Hill scored 15.

"There's nothing to celebrate. It's not like we won a championship. It's one game," Hill said. "Yes, it was good, but if we come out and lay an egg on Tuesday, this game doesn't mean anything."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra started Shane Battier, then replaced him with Udonis Haslem after the Pacers took a 55-45 halftime lead. It made no difference.

James had 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists and Dwyane Wade scored 27. But they got little help.

"We had a lot of mistakes and they took advantage," James said. "No one had it going. We had some really good looks. They didn't fall, and we've just got to do a better job executing in the next game."

Pacers 107, Heat 96

MIAMI (96): James 11-18 2-2 25, Battier 1-1 0-0 3, Bosh 4-12 1-2 9, Chalmers 2-9 1-2 6, Wade 12-18 2-3 27, R.Allen 4-8 2-2 12, Andersen 6-7 2-2 14, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Cole 0-3 0-0 0, Haslem 0-1 0-2 0, Douglas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 40-78 10-15 96.

INDIANA (107): George 7-13 7-8 24, West 8-11 3-4 19, Hibbert 5-13 9-13 19, G.Hill 3-9 6-6 15, Stephenson 8-12 0-0 17, Scola 1-3 0-0 2, Butler 0-1 0-0 0, Watson 3-4 4-6 11, Mahinmi 0-1 0-0 0, L.Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Copeland 0-1 0-0 0, S.Hill 0-0 0-0 0, Sloan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-68 29-37 107.

Miami 24 21 25 26— 96

Indiana 30 25 28 24— 107

3sMiami 6-23 (R.Allen 2-6, Battier 1-1, Wade 1-1, Chalmers 1-4, James 1-5, Cole 0-1, Bosh 0-5), Indiana 8-19 (George 3-6, G.Hill 3-7, Watson 1-2, Stephenson 1-2, Butler 0-1, Copeland 0-1). ReboundsMiami 39 (James 10), Indiana 45 (Hibbert 9). AssistsMiami 23 (James, Chalmers 5), Indiana 23 (Stephenson 8). FoulsMiami 26, Indiana 15. TechnicalsMiami defensive three second. Flagrant Fouls—Chalmers. A18,165 (18,165).

Magic on Sterling: Magic Johnson joked about his involvement in the controversy surrounding Clippers owner Donald Sterling while delivering the keynote address at the National Restaurant Association Show.

Johnson's remarks focused on his restaurant and food services businesses, but he did briefly mention the Sterling situation.

"These last two weeks, I don't know," he said. "I thought I should go back to the food service industry because these last two weeks have been unbelievable."

Johnson, the Hall of Famer turned entrepreneur, was in the news because part of Sterling's racist rant on the audio released by TMZ last month focused on him. Sterling complained that his female friend, V. Stiviano, had posed for a picture with Johnson and posted it on Instagram.

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