INDIANAPOLIS—There are a few conclusions that can be surmised by the loud gallery at Conseco Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
First, their team is more resiliant, energetic and better under new head coach Frank Vogel, who is quickly becoming one of the toast of the town in the course of nine games.
But they also learned that they're are favorites in the Eastern Conference and there are those trying to get there. Indiana's professional basketball team has done well to make ground on the mountain of respectability, but still are far from the top.
In an up-and-down game in which the Pacers rallied from a 24 point first half deficit to get the lead in the second half, Miami was able to use a strong fourth quarter to pull out a 110-103 victory on Tuesday night.
Like their last match-up against the Heat a week ago, the Pacers saw a fourth quarter lead dissappear against an NBA-Title contending veteran team.
The Heat, led by Dwayne Wade's 41 points and LeBron James' 27, outscored the Pacers 26-17 to improve their win to 40-15. While the Pacers fall to 24-29, they still remain in the eighth spot for the playoffs as the get ready to face the Pistons on Wednesday.
The first quarter belonged to the heat, who used a 90-foot ally oop pass from Wade to James to race out to a 41-19 lead. Wade found buckets easy to come by in the first 24 minutes in general, hitting 12-of-19 shots on his way to 31 first half point.
He was slowed a bit in the second as the Pacers crawled the way back into the game. A.J. Price brought a spark off the bench and scored eight first half points and helped the Pacers cut the deficit to four when the clock hit zero.
Indiana finally got to the lead in the third quarter when Josh McRoberts got inside for a hoop to make it 67-66. Both teams traded the advantage for the quarter, but the Pacers had it when the third came to a close when Tyler Hansbrough hit a 15-foot jumper to put the home team up by one.