6:00 PM ET, March 10, 2013
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
Mike and Mike in the Morning
Mike Greenberg and Tim Legler share their thoughts on the Heat's win over the Pacers, the impact of Amare Stoudemire's injury, DeAndre Jordan's big dunk and more.
If there was any confusion on that point, the reigning NBA champions might have cleared that up Sunday night.
Mario Chalmers scored 26 points, Chris Bosh added 24 and the Heat won their 18th straight game, easily topping the Indiana Pacers 105-91 -- even with James scoring only a season-low 13, yet clearly helping control play with seven assists and six rebounds.
"That's the thing about our team," Chalmers said. "We can click on all cylinders."
The streak ties the seventh longest in NBA history, and is the league's best since the Boston Celtics won 19 straight in November and December 2008.
"We just did what we're supposed to do," said Dwyane Wade, who added 23 points and six steals for Miami. "Win at home."
Ray Allen added 11 for Miami (47-14), which now has a victory against every NBA team this season. The Heat had been 0-2 against the Pacers.
"When you can win like this, we can go home, we can breathe easier, food tastes better, it makes life a lot better," Allen said. "That's the goal, and I'm sure everybody in this locker room will say the same."
David West scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half for the Pacers, who fell nine games behind Miami in the Eastern Conference standings. Roy Hibbert scored 15, D.J. Augustin had 14 and Paul George scored 10 for Indiana.
The Heat held a 27-15 edge in points off turnovers and finished the game shooting 56 percent compared to 41 percent by Indiana.
"We didn't compete from the opening tip," West said. "I just don't think we brought enough competitive fire. LeBron James has 13 points and these other guys -- Chalmers has 26 -- it's just not enough. We didn't compete enough. You can't beat a team like that in their building as well as they're playing without competing."
LeBron And Jordan, Together At Last
With the Heat beating the Pacers on Sunday night, LeBron James matched the longest win streak ever (18) by a team Michael Jordan was on, the 1995-96 Bulls. Here's at look at each star's performance during his respective team's run.
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
Those "other guys" did their jobs, none better than Chalmers.
Miami's point guard needed only nine shots to get his 26 points, going 5 for 6 from 3-point range and making all seven of his free throws. He also grabbed seven rebounds, tying a career high.
Since Nov. 17, 2010, there have been only two instances of a player scoring at least 26 points on nine shots or less, according to STATS LLC: Chalmers on Sunday, and a 27-point effort from Chris Paul earlier this season.
"All your guys have to be live options and Rio took that to heart," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He took shots he was capable of making. ... He must be aggressive against the better defensive teams in the league."
The Pacers warmed up at the basket the Heat typically use, and just about every starter kept pregame pleasantries such as handshakes and quick hugs to a minimum. And there were moments of physicality, but nothing near the level of those body-flying, blood-drawing clobberings that came during last season's Eastern Conference semifinals.
Then again, that series was competitive throughout. This game was essentially over just after halftime.
Miami led by nine after the opening quarter, the second-largest deficit the Pacers faced after 12 minutes all season. Indiana hardly folded; the Pacers used a 24-14 run to get within two when West scored with 2:57 left before the half. The margin was still only six in the final minute before intermission.
But the Heat couldn't have scripted a better final 6.9 seconds of the half.
After a deflection sent all the defensive matchups askew, James found himself being guarded 1-on-1 by Hibbert, so he simply drove past the 7-foot-2 center for a slam. Wade then stole the ball from George near midcourt with about 3 seconds left, took a couple dribbles and hit a 12-footer over Hibbert's outstretched arm as time expired, giving Miami a 56-46 lead at the break.
Miami missed its first shot of the second half, then didn't miss another field-goal attempt for eight minutes.
"We used that momentum," James said.
Seven straight makes by Miami fueled what became a 21-7 run, and essentially took away any mystery about the outcome. What was an eight-point game turned into a 77-55 Heat lead, the margin exactly doubling the biggest leads Miami held over Indiana in the first two meetings between the clubs this season -- combined.
Even more coverage of the Big Three and their adventures in Miami. Heat Index »
From there, yes, there were reminders that these teams aren't exactly fond of one another.
Stephenson -- who made a choke sign at the Heat during last year's playoffs, then was the subject of a flagrant foul from now-former Heat backup Dexter Pittman later in that series -- drove the lane with 3:05 left in the third period and drew a hard foul from Shane Battier. Stephenson remained down for a few moments, and a video review confirmed that Battier made a play on the ball, so anything beyond a common shooting foul wasn't merited.
It might have fired up Indiana a bit as the Pacers scored the final nine points of the third quarter to get within 79-65.
They could have gotten two more points closer if not for a brilliant defensive play by James in the final seconds. George got free for a layup, but James stalked him on the break and swatted away the shot.
"Tough loss," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Give credit to the Heat for really outplaying us."
The 18 straight wins ties for the second-best streak by a reigning NBA champion. Boston won 19 straight in the season after the 2008 title, and the Celtics won 18 in a row after claiming the 1981 championship. ... Vogel picked up a technical early in the fourth quarter. ... Battier's streak of making a 3-pointer in 18 straight games ended. He did not attempt a shot from beyond the arc. ... After the game, the Heat recalled Jarvis Varnado from the NBA Development League.
Around The Association
Most valuable player: Dwyane Wade shot and scored well, but his six steals were emblematic of the way the Miami Heat jumped passing lanes and deflected everything to disrupt Indiana's offense.
X factor: Mario Chalmers. You expect the big three to beat you, but when an unheralded member of the Heat scores a game-high 26 points (on nine shots), it becomes borderline impossible to win.
That was a statement: The Pacers won the first two matchups this season, but this game made sure both teams know the pecking order. Miami just dismantled Indiana on both ends of the court. The East is a one-team race.
Next 5 Games
The Heat were a marginal offensive team against the Pacers the first two games. On Sunday, the Heat improved their offensive efficiency by almost 19 points and it had to do with points coming off of turnovers. The 27 points Sunday were tied for fourth highest output this season.[+]
Heat vs Pacers in three games
The Heat's defense stifled the Pacers in the first three quarters holding them to 38 percent shooting from the field and forcing 12 turnovers. The 12 Pacer turnovers in the first three quarters led to 15 transition points.
Dwyane Wade scored 26 points but it was his defense that helped key the win. Wade had six steals Sunday which led to eight points. This was Wade's 22nd consecutive game with a steal, which is a career high. His previous best was 21 straight games with a steal in 2008-09.
Chris Bosh tied his career high Sunday in makes from outside 15-feet by going 9-for-13 from 15-feet and beyond totaling 19 of his 26 points.
LeBron James has matched the longest win streak ever by a team Michael Jordan was on, the 1995-96 Bulls.[+]
From Elias: The Heat carry a 17-game win streak into today's game against the Pacers. Should LeBron and the Heat win, it would be the longest win streak by a reigning MVP in NBA history.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information