6:00 PM ET, December 27, 2009
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
All in good fun, a reward of sorts for taking his first charge of the season.
"Felt like we won a championship," Beasley said afterward, braids still attached.
Yep, just about everything seems to be working for the Heat these days.
Dwyane Wade scored 25 points in only 28 minutes, Jermaine O'Neal added 19 points on 6 of 7 shooting against his former team and the Heat enjoyed their largest victory margin this season by topping the Indiana Pacers 114-80 on Sunday night.
Beasley scored 16 points and Udonis Haslem added 13 for Miami, 5-1 in its last six games since a 28-point loss to Memphis two weeks ago sparked a team meeting, a long and ugly film session and plenty of soul searching. The Heat started 8 of 8 from the field for a 17-3 lead and never looked back, building a 66-44 advantage that was their largest at halftime since January 2007.
"Defense has been the biggest change since the Memphis game, and just our overall approach and effort to the game and commitment to each other," Wade said. "It's been there ever since our team meeting."
Troy Murphy scored 16 for Indiana, which dropped its sixth straight. It could have been so much worse for the Pacers, too -- they actually outscored Miami 14-0 during one first-half stretch, a brief blip in what was otherwise a Miami romp.
The dominance was thorough. Miami shot 49 percent to Indiana's 31 percent, held a 55-40 rebounding edge and outscored the Pacers 54-24 in the paint.
"We competed when we got behind tonight," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said. "After that, everybody just played bad basketball."
One bright spot for the Pacers, sort of: Tyler Hansbrough scored 10 points on 0 for 5 shooting, becoming the first NBA player since Andre Miller on Nov. 28, 2005, to have a double-double without a field goal, according to STATS LLC. Hansbrough was 10 of 10 from the foul line and added 10 rebounds.
"It's odd," Hansbrough said. "But it's a double-double whatever way you look at it."
Otherwise, this was the lowlight of Indiana's already-poor season. Before Sunday, Indiana's worst loss was a 21-point defeat to Dallas on Nov. 27.
Indiana scored the game's first point, significant because the Heat led wire-to-wire in the first meeting between the teams this season. After that, though, it was all Miami -- the Heat led 17-3 before Indiana got a stop, and were up 34-12 with 2:38 left in the opening period, with O'Neal making all four of his shots.
In two games this season against Indiana, where he spent eight seasons, O'Neal is averaging 20.5 points on 65 percent shooting.
"I didn't come into the game thinking I needed to have a great game against these guys because of my history with them," O'Neal said. "It was more getting opportunity. ... When the bell is rung for me, I want to go out and score, and I will."
After their strong start, the Heat missed 10 straight from the field, giving Indiana a chance to make it a game again by reeling off 14 consecutive points.
It didn't stay a game for long.
Beasley's dunk with 6:42 left in the half put Miami up 40-29 and the lead was never in doubt again. Wade had 11 points in the quarter, Indiana missed 15 of its final 19 shots of the half, and the Pacers were well on their way to an 11th loss in their last 12 road games.
"We talked about our habits and being an every-possession team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Regardless of whether the ball's going in or not, you have to compete and get after it on the other end. I thought for the most part, other than that stretch, we were able to do that."
The capper came with 6:24 left, when Beasley stepped in front of Indiana's 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert, took his long-awaited charge, then rolled around in delight before going over to the Heat bench for more congratulations.
"Made me feel good for him," Heat forward Quentin Richardson said. "He's been trying and trying to do that."
The Heat were the sixth team this season to start a game 8 of 8 from the floor. ... Miami's biggest lead this season had been 31 points against the New York Knicks in the opener. ... Through three quarters, Indiana's starters had 25 points combined, matching what Wade had done by himself.
MIAMI - DECEMBER 27: Jermaine O'Neal #7 of the Miami Heat dunks against Earl Watson #2 of the Indiana Pacers on...(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||23-75 (.307)||46-93 (.495)|
|3PM-3PA||6-22 (.273)||1-11 (.091)|
|FTM-FTA||28-44 (.636)||21-29 (.724)|
|Fast Break Points||11||15|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||28 (0/0)||28 (1/0)|
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