The third quarter belonged to LeBron James on Thursday night, but he didn’t lead the Heat into another series lead alone.
Udonis Haslem had a period to remember as well.
The Heat outscored Indiana 30-13 in the third quarter to take a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter.
One may have heard that James had 16 of Miami’s 30 points in the third. Haslem, who came into the game averaging 6.5 points in the previous four games, scored 10 just in the third period.
Haslem hit his final eight shots after bricking one off a baseline jumper early in the first.
“He burned us,” Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel said.
Haslem gave credit to veteran forward Juwan Howard — who hasn’t played this postseason — for stirring words at halftime as Miami trailed by four. “There were a lot of bleeps,” Haslem said of the speech.
Whatever it was, it worked.
“We felt like we had 24 minutes to play for our livelihoods,” Haslem said. “That’s what we did. We knew they weren’t going to give us the game. We had to be aggressive offensively and defensively.”
Haslem — who scored 16 points with three rebounds in 25:35 Thursday — once again showed why he was a player Dwyane Wade had to have back during Miami’s run to the ‘Big 3’ era in the summer of 2010.
Not only did Haslem put up the points — and do so on 5-of-5 shooting in the third — but also he felt right at home getting physical on the defensive end as he helped hold Roy Hibbert to four points in the third.
“We’ve seen that so many times going back to our other championship run,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, referring back to Miami’s 2006 title team. “He set the defensive tone for us, was up for the challenge. He was tireless as well.”
The Heat’s bodyguard also stepped in when Mario Chalmers and David West were jawing it out in the third — both drawing technicals. Haslem stepped in and took things over for his smaller teammate.
“I was just protecting my point guard,” Haslem said. “It was a mismatch.”
With Chris Bosh struggling inside, the Heat has needed more from both Haslem and Chris Andersen.
Although Andersen only scored four points (and has hit all 15 shots taken this series), he sure woke up the Miami arena.
Of course, some would say Andersen was lucky to just have stayed in Thursday’s game after sending Tyler Hansbrough sprawling while the two were working up the court in the second quarter.
Andersen was apparently upset when he saw teammate Norris Cole hit the deck going up for a rebound. On the way back up the floor, Andersen put a shoulder into Hansbrough then shoved him when the two got close after play was stopped on the initial whistle.
Both Andersen and Hansbrough were initially called for technicals, but after video review, Andersen was hit with a flagrant foul 1. Video showed Hansbrough looking on in disbelief because it appeared he had nothing to do with the hit on Cole.
“I didn’t see [what happened] so I’m going to have to look at the tape,” Spoelstra said. “It’s a physical series but no one wants to take it over the top. I don’t think anyone on either side sees this as a series that needs to be taken control of. It’s just very competitive. Good, clean physical basketball. It’s nothing like last year.”
Vogel was asked if he thought Andersen should have been ejected with a flagrant 2. He wasn’t biting.
“I don’t really want to talk about calls or officiating,” Vogel said. “They watched it on tape, I’m sure they made the right decision.”
On the ensuing possession, Andersen whipped the crowd into a frenzy when he rejected Hansbrough’s shot and sent it a few rows into the pricy seats.
Hibbert, the emerging star of this series, seemingly did what he wanted early on but ended with 22 points with six rebounds. Bosh scored just seven points with five rebounds.