INDIANAPOLIS — C.J. Miles wants to see the same sort of fight that Indiana showed in the third period be a part of its game in every quarter.
Miles scored 25 points, George Hill added 20 and the Pacers rallied to beat the Miami Heat 106-95 on Wednesday. Miles and C.J. Watson combined for 10 of Indiana's 17 points in a decisive third-quarter spurt.
"It shouldn't take us to get hit to bounce back," Miles said. "It's just about us going out there with a focus from the jump every day."
The Pacers (12-21) have been staggered plenty of times over the past few months. From Paul George's broken right leg to the series of injuries that once left Indiana without any of its five starters from last season, the Pacers have not resembled the team that pushed Miami to the limit each of the past playoffs.
This time, they appeared to be on the verge of getting blown out after the Heat took a 56-46 lead less than two minutes into the second half. But Indiana stuck around long enough for its perimeter shooters and defense to get back on track.
Miles knocked down two 3-pointers in the key 17-2 spurt, and Watson made four straight free throws to give Indiana its first lead since the first quarter. David West hit a 3-pointer from just beyond the top of the key as time expired in the third quarter.
When the buzzer sounded, the Pacers had turned a 68-61 deficit into a 78-70 lead that had Miami (14-19) reeling.
Indiana pushed the lead to as much as 85-72 early in the fourth.
"We didn't close the quarter out good at all," said Heat star Dwyane Wade, who had 20 points, seven assists and three blocks. "That's been our Achilles heel all season, it's been the fourth quarter."
Chris Bosh had 18 points and eight rebounds for Miami, which has lost three in a row. Luol Deng scored 15 points.
Watson finished with 11 points, and Hill ended Miami's comeback plans with two 3s late in the fourth quarter.
"We just continue to fight and play hard," Miles said. "We have 10 guys now that can play and everybody out there on that floor can make a play and can help our team."
Heat: Danny Granger showed his former team he can still play. In his first game as a visitor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the resurgent Granger finished with 14 points. Granger, Indiana's first-round draft pick in 2005, had spent his entire career with the Pacers before he was dealt to Philadelphia in February. "Strange, it was strange," Granger said. He was given a polite ovation when he first entered the game.
Pacers: While Indiana leads the league in scoring defense and clamped down hard when it had to Wednesday, coach Frank Vogel is looking for more consistency. He said before the game that he wants his defense to dominate. That wasn't the case for most of the first three quarters, when Miami made nearly 60 percent of its shots. But the Pacers allowed just two baskets over a 9-minute, 57-second span that changed the game. Miami wound up shooting 49.4 percent.
Heat: Visit Houston on Saturday.
Pacers: Visit Milwaukee on Friday.
HOME, SWEET, HOME
The Pacers enjoyed seeing the Heat in town Wednesday. Indiana has won six straight regular-season home games over Miami and improved to 2-0 against the Heat this season.
Without George or LeBron James around, Wednesday's game had a completely different feel from the fierce rivalries of the past two years. The intensity was lacking at times. And while the game was an announced sellout, there were empty seats. The chants of "Beat The Heat" didn't emerge until the fourth quarter. Even the players noticed.
"A couple of guys actually said something about that while we were out there," West said. "I guess these three or four games in the regular season throughout the last three years have sort of been big games. But obviously, this doesn't have the one-seed implications we were fighting for the last few years."
All content copyright ©2015 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.