Pacers win bruising battle against Heat in race for top seed


Indiana took every shot Miami could muster Wednesday night.

Then the Pacers threw a couple of their own punches — and put the two-time defending champs on the mat.

Paul George scored 23 points, Roy Hibbert added 21 and Indiana rallied from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Heat 84-83, taking a three-game lead over Miami in the chase of the Eastern Conference’s top seed.

“They’re the champs, they’re going to bring out the best in us,” said David West, who made a 3-pointer with 50.2 seconds to go. “They bring out the best in anybody. I thought we just had enough fight.”

It was one of those rare grudge matches that actually lived up to the billing.

Before the game, the teams chided one another with dueling comments. Afterward, nobody was ready to make up. And in between, the action got downright nasty.

LeBron James needed a cotton swab in his nose to keep playing in the fourth quarter after getting whacked in the face. Dwyane Wade spent the final minute of the game icing his right hamstring.

Pacers center Roy Hibbert finished the game despite taking an elbow to the face that left him so groggy he didn’t even remember getting hit.

James and George both wound up taking spills into basket supports, and Lance Stephenson was ejected midway through the fourth quarter after picking up his second technical foul for celebrating a basket. The angry Stephenson waved his hand at the ref and after leaving the court, threw a towel and kicked a door. Coach Frank Vogel was not amused, saying he had a stern talk with his budding star guard before he went home.

But it typified a rugged night for Miami (48-22).

“It is what it is, they ref the game, we play it,” James said.

Spurs 108, Nuggets 103

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan had 29 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.

Knicks 107, Kings 99

In Sacramento, Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points, and J.R. Smith added 29 points as New York moved a game closer to a playoff berth.

Raptors 99, Celtics 90

In Boston, Terrence Ross scored 24 points, Kyle Lowry 23 and Toronto edged closer to its first playoff berth since 2008.

Timberwolves 107, Hawks 83

In Minneapolis, Gorgui Dieng had 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Grizzlies 91, Jazz 87

In Salt Lake City, Zach Randolph had 22 points and 13 rebounds.

Pelicans 98, Clippers 96

In New Orleans, Anthony Davis had 16 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

Suns 99, Wizards 93

In Washington, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe combined to finish with 48 points, 13 assists and 13 rebounds.

Cavaliers 97, Pistons 96

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Dion Waiters hit a contested baseline jumper at the buzzer.

Bobcats 116, Nets 111 (OT)

In Charlotte, Al Jefferson scored 35 points, and Kemba Walker had a double-double.