INDIANAPOLIS — 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 had 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 three-pointer with 50.2 seconds to go. “They bring out the best in anybody. I thought we just had enough fight.”
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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.
Hibbert finished the game despite taking an elbow to the face that left him so groggy he didn’t even remember getting hit.
“It is what it is, they ref the game, we play it,” James said.
Indiana managed to win on a night James seemed to be at his best.
The four-time MVP finished with 38 points, eight rebounds, five assists, was 9 of 15 from the field and 14 of 15 from the free throw line.
The problem: James also had six turnovers, Wade had six more turnovers and Miami managed only one basket over the final 3 minutes, 23 seconds.
James and Chris Bosh both missed late jumpers that would have given Miami the lead, the last an air ball by Bosh from just right of the top of the key as time expired.
Spurs win 15th straight
SAN ANTONIO — Tim Duncan had 29 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a fourth-quarter collapse to beat the Denver Nuggets 108-103 for their 15th straight victory.
Danny Green scored 16 points before leaving with a foot injury early in the second half. Tiago Splitter, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili had 10 points apiece for San Antonio (55-16), which kept the league’s best record.
Aaron Brooks, a former star at Franklin High, scored 25 for Denver.
• Anthony Davis had 16 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, and the undermanned New Orleans Pelicans won their fourth straight, 98-96, over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
Former Rainier Beach star Jamal Crawford scored 31 for the Clippers, but narrowly missed a couple of late three-pointers, including one as time expired that could have won it.
• The Golden State Warriors have demoted assistant coach Brian Scalabrine, a former star at Enumclaw, to their D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz, Calif., with 11 games to play in the regular season for what coach Mark Jackson called a “difference in philosophies.”
• Former Husky T
errence Ross scored 24 points, Kyle Lowry 23 and Toronto edged closer to a playoff berth with a 99-90 win in Boston.
• Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points, J.R. Smith had 29 and New York, which led by 24 in the third quarter, held off a furious rally for a 107-99 win in Sacramento.