The Indiana Pacers left no doubt which was the team on a mission as they routed the cold shooting Miami Heat 94-75 on Thursday to take a surprising 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Out West, the San Antonio Spurs continued their dominant ways, defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 105-88 for a 2-0 series lead.
The Spurs, who have now won 16 consecutive games, were led by Tony Parker who scored 22 points on his 30th birthday.
Underdog Indiana was expected to be no challenge for Miami, but the Pacers, showing more poise and determination, outscored their undermanned and tiring visitors 51-32 in the second half for a second consecutive victory.
''The game was won once again with defense and rebounding, and that's (what) this team's identity is about,'' Pacers coach Frank Vogel told reporters.
Big man Roy Hibbert played the biggest role, muscling his way for 19 points and 18 rebounds against the Heat, who again were missing injured forward Chris Bosh.
''His favorite saying is 'send them to Big Dog,''' Pacers guard George Hill said of Hibbert.
''When we're in trouble, he's our bail-out.''
Hill helped out with 20 points and forward Danny Granger collected 17 as the Pacers head into Sunday's game four in Indianapolis with the upper hand.
Miami tried to shake up its lineup, but that did not help.
Regular Mario Chalmers scored 25 while league most valuable player LeBron James had 22.
The three other Miami starters collectively scored five points, all by Dwyane Wade.
The usually high scoring All-Star guard did not have a point in the first half for the first time in 95 postseason games.
''I guess I made history tonight,'' Wade said.
At least he scored.
Shane Battier, who started at small forward, missed all seven of his shots, and replacement center Dexter Pittman lasted less than three minutes as Indiana jumped out to an 11-2 lead.
The Heat fought back for a 26-17 advantage at the end of the first quarter, though that would be the last period the Heat would dominate.
The Pacers tied the score by halftime and controlled the game afterwards, holding Miami to 12 points in the third quarter as they stormed to a 69-55 lead before closing it out in the final period.
At San Antonio, Tim Duncan added 18 points for the Spurs while Blake Griffin topped the Clippers with 20. Chris Paul scored just 10 for the Los Angeles team.
Game three is in Los Angeles on Saturday.
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