x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

NBA: Miami Heat crush Indiana Pacers for double-digit win

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade share spoils as the defending champions win 114-96 in Indianapolis.

LeBron James scored 27 points for Miami Heat in Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers. Andy Lyons / Getty Images / AFP
LeBron James scored 27 points for Miami Heat in Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers. Andy Lyons / Getty Images / AFP

The Miami Heat rediscovered their offensive punch, beating the Indiana Pacers 114-96 on Sunday to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

LeBron James scored 22 points and got plenty of help as the Heat reclaimed the home-court advantage they lost two nights earlier. Dwyane Wade had 18 points, and Udonis Haslem added 17.

David West led Indiana with 21 points, and Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds. The Pacers lost for the first time at home in the play-offs this season, dropping to 6-1.

Game 4 is Tuesday in Indianapolis.

Miami used an 8-2 run to open up a 10-point lead in the second quarter and led 70-56 at halftime - Miami's biggest lead in the series.

Indiana did not get closer than seven the rest of the way.

It was a rare letdown from one of the NBA's top defensive teams.

Miami shot 54.5 per cent from the field, was 24 of 28 from the free-throw line, matched its highest-scoring quarter of the play-offs this season (34) in the first, broke the franchise's post-season scoring record for a half with 70 points and tied a franchise play-off record with only one first-half turnover.

The combination was the perfect remedy for Miami, which needed James's buzzer-beating layup to win Game 1 in overtime and turned the ball over twice in the closing seconds of Game 2, a 97-93 loss. The Heat had not led by more than five in either of those two home games.

On Sunday, Miami got major contributions from a handful of players and left nothing to chance in building the big first-half lead.

Indiana were a different team to start the second half, getting back-to-back 3-pointers and a three-point play from George Hill. Lance Stephenson followed that with 1 of 2 free throws to cut it to 74-67.

But Miami countered with a 9-4 run, extended the lead to 91-76 after three and made it 99-78 early in the fourth.

Indiana closed to 101-87 midway through the fourth but could not any closer. It was only the third time this season the Pacers lost at home by double digits.

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