Roy Hibbert is still having his way against the Miami Heat.
Hibbert had 24 points and the Indiana Pacers overcame a 13-point first half deficit to defeat the Heat 90-84 on Tuesday night in a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals.
The two teams, who have raced out to the two best records in the East so far, met for the first time since the Heat won that back-and-forth series in seven games. Hibbert averaged 22.1 points and 10.4 rebounds. Miami also defeated Indiana in six games in the 2012 East semis.
“I’m really proud of the contributions by so many guys,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. “Obviously, Roy Hibbert had the best stat line and was a dominant force at both ends. It was a great tag-team effort by our point guards. Paul George, too do what he did, scoring 15 points in the second half while guarding LeBron James and then Dwyane Wade when James was out, was a special performance.”
Swarmed by Miami Heat defenders for much of the first half, Paul George struggled but remained patient.
His composure was rewarded.
George had five turnovers, two points and missed all four of his shots in the first half, but netted 15 of his 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting over the final 24 minutes.
“When I was coming off (screens), they had two to the ball all night,” said George. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a night when I would explode offensively. I knew I had to move the ball and share it.”
David West added 17 points and nine rebounds for Indiana, which came off its worst performance of the season in a 118-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night by beating the Heat at home for a fourth straight time.
The triumph moved Indiana to an NBA-best 19-3.
LeBron James netted 17 points to go with 14 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, who have dropped three of their last five. Dwyane Wade scored 17 in defeat.
The Heat didn’t trail in the first half and led 53-47 early in the third before the Pacers scored 11 of the next 15 points to take their first lead.
“I wish we didn’t have to rely on the third quarter,” Hibbert said. “We didn’t play that well in the first half, but we were only down seven going into the half. We knew we were going to fight back.”
Hibbert’s second three-point play of the frame gave Indiana a 58-57 edge with 6:12 remaining and two free throws and a bucket by George over the next few minutes pushed the margin to 62-57.
Miami never led again.
The Pacers, who got a pair of triples and 12 points from George in the third, took a 68-64 advantage into the fourth.
Wade’s pull-up jumper whittled the deficit to 70-68 early in the stanza, but Hibbert had five points during a 12-6 swing to up the margin to 82-74 with 4:59 left.
A bit later, James airballed a three from the top of the arc with Miami down five and West drove down the left baseline for a tough layup to make it 88-81 with 38.9 ticks on the clock.
Earlier, Miami, which used a 13-2 run in the opening quarter to help the Heat build a 30-19 gap after a quarter of play, led 47-40 at the break.
Indiana committed 13 of its 21 turnovers in the first half.
Notes: Indiana shot 50.7 percent (34-of-67) from the field … The Heat were 4-of-21 (19 percent) from beyond the arc … Indiana outrebounded Miami 43-33 … Miami’s Chris Bosh had 12 points.