Miami Heat offense goes missing in action as Indiana Pacers knot series after 78-75 win

By Ethan J. Skolnick

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Updated: 12:37 a.m. Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Posted: 11:04 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, 2012

MIAMI — the Pacers had pushed back and now, after pulling this off, they were pushing each other, while barking toward the rafters. "Let’s go!" David West yelled, urging his teammates to get out of this foreign, surly place, with their perspective preserved. "Let’s go! It’s just one game!"

It’s just one, sure. that was why the revelry amused Dwyane Wade, who had correctly heard that Frank Vogel had been inspiring his star-deprived team by identifying with the balanced, unselfish 2011 champions. "they say they want to be like Dallas," Wade said. "they celebrated like Dallas, I guess."

Wade didn’t spare the snark.

"I don’t know if they didn’t expect to win," Wade said. "Every night we go out on the court, we expect to win."

The Heat didn’t win, though. so, now, here we go. Here we go to Indianapolis, after the Heat did something it didn’t through the first three rounds of the 2011 post-season – losing at AmericanAirlines Arena. Here we go, at 1-1 after Indiana’s 78-75 victory, into what’s now looking like a lengthy struggle.

"Welcome to the playoffs for us," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Welcome to a wall of worries, not just because Miami fell, but because of the way it did, and some problems that will prove challenging to fix. Chris Bosh is likely out at least through the end of the series, and Miami predictably missed his presence more than it did when springing some smaller lineups on Indiana in the aftermath of his Game 1 abdominal injury. the Heat scored 53 points without Bosh in that second half, but just 52 through the first three quarters of Game 2, that struggle putting a premium on the dominance of its defense. and it got no more than five points the entire night from anyone other than LeBron James (28) or Wade (24).

For a while, the Heat’s rotations were so swift and sticky that it appeared the night could be saved. it appeared that Spoelstra’s mixing and matching would make up for a variety of ills. it appeared that way, until the number "3" appeared under "quarter" on the scoreboard. That’s when, as Spoelstra acknowledged, the offensive inefficiency bled into defensive lethargy. That’s when the Pacers’ swingmen, Paul George and Danny Granger, started slipping through cracks and then chasms.

"they were able to break through," Spoelstra said of the 28-14 deficit in the first 12 minutes. "probably the best offensive quarter for either team in two games."

The Pacers lead was 61-52 entering the fourth, which left Spoelstra unwilling to allow James to exit, even for a minute. not with so many others offering so little. so in James stayed, and back the Heat came. it was up to James and Wade to attack, and both did – with Wade even taking that a bit too far, committing an open-court flagrant foul on a Darren Collison out of frustration.

And, soon, for Miami, there was a lead.

It was mostly thanks to Wade and, with his jumper repeatedly falling short, his inside work – a putback, a floater, a bank, a layup, a post-up. But there would be no putaway, not with Wade missing a free throw and a reverse layup and then another of those long elbow jumpers, and not with James getting blocked by George.

Not with Bosh out of sight. not even after George Hill missed a three, and Paul George missed two threes. not with James at the line. Miami trailed, 76-75, with 54.3 seconds left.

James’ first attempt was in, then out.

The second struck the back iron.

Hill missed a layup, and West missed a tip, but the bouncing ball eventually landed in the hands of the tallest man in the building, Roy Hibbert. Hibbert made 1-of-2 free throws.

After a timeout, James passed twice, first to Shane Battier, then to Wade.

"I was kind of falling a little bit, with a little contact," Wade said.

He had intended to go up with his left. He switched to his right. "I just got a little too far under the rim," Wade said. "I came up a little bit short."

"Nine out of 10 times, Dwyane makes that layup," James said.

George rebounded. Hill made the first of two three throws. the ball skipped behind him, down the floor and out of bounds. Miami had 8.3 seconds and, after a timeout, a chance . After all, it had missed 20 of its first 21 three-point attempts so far in the series. Wade had the ball up top. Mario Chalmers, off a curl, had a look.

"there were a couple of different options," Spoelstra said. "He was one of the first or second options."

The shot was long. now the same may be true of this series.

Miami Heat offense goes missing in action as Indiana Pacers knot series after 78-75 win

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