NBA scores 2013: Indy beats Miami in battle of beasts in the East

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In Tuesday night NBA action, the Pacers beat the Heat in a battle of the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, and the Brooklyn Nets have won two straight games for the first time all season.

Given the state of the rest of the conference, it appears to be inevitable that the Pacers and Heat will meet in Eastern Conference Finals later this season. And I'm not sure anyone has a problem with that.

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Indiana came back from a 13-point second-quarter deficit and suffocated Miami down the stretch to pull out the 90-84 win and increase its lead in the standings, as the Pacers now lead the race for first in the East by three full games.

Roy Hibbert went for 24 points to lead all scorers, and Paul George and David West scored 17 apiece in the Indy win. The Pacers' defense also held the Heat to 42.9 percent shooting, and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade put up just 17 points each to lead Miami.

The Pacers shot better than 50 percent from the floor, but their 21 turnovers were a problem that put them in a hole in the first half. But Indiana stuck with it, protecting the ball after the break and winning the rebound battle, 43-33, which continues to be a major issue for Miami.

Nets 104, Celtics 96

Things haven't been good for the Nets so far this season. But with the return of Deron Williams and Paul Pierce, maybe things are on the mend.

Brooklyn defeated Boston 104-96 on Tuesday to win their second straight game, marking the first time all season the Nets have won two straight contests. Williams scored 25 points in 37 minutes in his return to the court, and the Nets got 24 from Brook Lopez on top of it.

The Nets managed to shoot better than 55 percent from the floor, committed just 13 turnovers and outrebounded the Celtics by seven boards in the win. But Boston managed to stay alive in the game by hitting 11 of 22 shots from beyond the arc.

However, the normally bad Brooklyn defense was the story here. On Tuesday, they held Boston to just 43.8 percent shooting despite the Celtics long-range success.

Thunder 101, Hawks 92

The Russell Westbrook injury days seem to be far behind us at this point. The Thunder dumped the Hawks, 101-92, on Tuesday, and Oklahoma City continues to impress even if Russ is still a bit on the mend.

Kevin Durant went for 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Serge Ibaka put up 19 and 10, and the Thunder continued to keep pace with the top of the Western Conference after yet another win. Oklahoma City held Atlanta to just 35.6 percent shooting, and despite shooting just 22 percent from three, managed to smother the Hawks on their home floor.

Atlanta got 23 points and 12 rebounds from Paul Millsap, 17 points from Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver hit another three to push his record streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 91. Shelvin Mack even had 17 points and six assists off the bench, but the Hawks just didn't get enough contributions elsewhere to overcome the rolling Thunder.

Suns 114, Lakers 108

The Lakers have played two games with Kobe Bryant back on the floor, and they've dropped both of them at home to the Toronto Raptors, and now the Phoenix Suns. Los Angeles looked a little better on Tuesday night than it did with Kobe on Sunday, but the home team still fell.

Bryant dropped in 20 points, Pau Gasol had 19 and the Lakers had six players in double figures, but the defense couldn't hold off the runnin' Suns.

Phoenix got 31 points from Goran Dragic, 22 from Marcus Morris and 18 from Eric Bledsoe and committed just 13 turnovers in the win. The Suns shot 51.8 percent from the field and outrebounded the Lakers, 43-32, in the process.

And while it wasn't all good for L.A., Kobe slowly but surely seems to be getting his legs back under him.

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Spurs 116, Raptors 103

The last time we saw the Spurs they were getting buried at home by the Pacers. But on Tuesday, San Antonio went into Toronto and smothered the Rudy-Gay-less Raptors, 116-103, behind another well-balanced attack.

The silver and black were without their starting center Tiago Splitter, whose absence on the defensive side of the ball has been an issue as of late, but the Spurs got a big effort from little-used Aron Baynes, who had 14 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.

He also helped stifle the early explosion of Jonas Valanciunas. The big man had 10 points before you could blink an eye in the first quarter, but he scored just four points the rest of the night, and it coincided with Baynes checking into the game for the first time.

Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 16 points and nine assists as one of seven Spurs in double figures. On the other side of the ball, DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson, who's been playing very well, went for 19 points apiece.

And despite the Raptors loss, Johnson did this to Kawhi Leonard, whose life had only just begun...

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Timberwolves 121, Pistons 94

Upon further review, Kevin Love is good at basketball. The Timberwolves' power forward went for 26 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists in JUST 30 MINUTES as Minnesota dismantled Detroit, 121-94, at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Holy moly. The Wolves shot 48 percent from the floor, hit 11 of their 24 threes and dished out 31 assists in the blowout. The Pistons, on the other hand, managed to hit just eight of their 28 shots from downtown and committed 20 turnovers on the night. And Minnesota just made it look easy. All five starters scored in double figures, and the Wolves got 33 points from their reserves in the process.

Once again, Detroit demonstrated its inability to shoot the ball from range. The huge Pistons even got outrebounded, 46-39, which is something they can't afford given that they can't spread the floor.

Bucks 78, Bulls 74

Oh boy. It's been a rough season for both of these teams, and Tuesday night was nothing new in that capacity. Milwaukee went on the road to beat Chicago, 78-74, but unfortunately just decreased their chances of winning the NBA Lottery.

But the Bucks got a big game from young big man John Henson. The second-year forward form North Carolina put up 25 points, 14 boards and six blocks, and Milwaukee still barely hung on with 78 total points. Also, Henson did this:

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Brandon Knight scored 19 points (on 23 shots!) and Ersan Ilyasova chipped in 10 of his own. So Milwaukee got 54 points from three players and still scored just 78 points.

On the other side of the ball, Chicago got 24 points from Mike Dunleavy, 21 from Carlos Boozer, 13 from Tony Snell and 10 from Taj Gibson, yet still managed just 74 points.

Cavaliers 109, Knicks 94

Well, it certainly appears the Cavs are starting to find their groove. Then again, they were playing the Knicks.

Cleveland beat New York, 109-94, on Tuesday night, giving them four wins in their last five games and drawing them ever closer to the Eastern Conference playoff picture. they are now just two games back in the loss column of the final spot.

Kyrie Irving was a magician in this one, tormenting any Knick that attempted to guard him. Cleveland's franchise player contributed 37 points on 23 shots, and dished out 11 assists int he process. And he got help in the form of 17 points off the bench from Jarrett Jack.

And things just keep getting worse for New York. This team got 29 points from Carmelo Anthony on just 19 shots, and Amar'e Stoudemire even pitched in 15 points on his own. But it didn't matter.

Also, J.R. Smith...

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More from SB Nation NBA:

Why Dwight Howard and Omer Asik didn't work together

The List: What is Kidd's 13-letter word of choice?

The Hook: A tale of two Rudy Gay trades

NBA power rankings: Pacers roll while Heat sink

Sunday Shootaround: Celtics focus only on future

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