Pacers win battle with Heat, clinch Central title
The Indiana Pacers survived a battle with Eastern Conference rival Miami, coming away with an 84-83 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
The Pacers got 23 points from Paul George and 21 more from Roy Hibbert, who briefly left the court with an injury after receiving an elbow from LeBron James in the second half. Lance Stephenson scored 15 points before he was ejected with his second technical foul with 5:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The NBA's best home team ended a two-game losing streak, took a 2-1 lead in the season series against the two-time defending champions and rebuilt a three-game advantage in the race for the Eastern Conference's top seed. Indiana (52-20) also clinched its second straight Central Division crown, something it hadn't done since 1998-99 and 1999-2000.
James led the Heat with 38 points. His layup with 32 seconds left in the half gave Miami a 45-44 lead at the break. Indiana led by 10 points, 40-30, with 3:39 left in the half, but James scored 10 of the Heat's points during a 15-4 run to close out the first half.
Roy Hibbert scored 17 points in the first half to lead the Pacers. James led all scorers with 20 points at halftime.