A balanced effort helped the Miami Heat win their season opener. They'll need more of the same on the offensive end to beat the Indiana Pacers on their home floor for the first time in almost eight years.The Heat look to avoid a 15th straight road loss to the Pacers when the teams meet Friday night.
While Miami has won six of its last eight at home against the Pacers, it hasn't prevailed in Indianapolis since an 89-87 victory on Dec. 31, 2001. Miami is 5-34 all-time at Indiana.
"Hopefully (the streak) continues," Indiana forward Danny Granger told the Pacers' official Web site. "Hopefully we didn't just jinx us."
A portion of the problem can be attributed to the Heat shooting 41.3 percent and averaging 86.9 points during the lengthy skid.
Former Pacer and current Heat forward Jermaine O'Neal hopes another effort like the one he delivered in a 115-93 win over New York on Wednesday will help change things.
O'Neal, who had 22 points and 12 rebounds, is excited about visiting the team he spent eight seasons with in healthy condition for the first time since leaving Indiana for Toronto before the 2007-08 season.
"I'm pretty sure they'll get a heavy dosage of me," O'Neal said.
Though O'Neal is averaging 8.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in three games against the Pacers since leaving Indiana, he believes without lingering knee issues he can return to the form that made him a six-time All-Star.
Wednesday's performance marked the 72nd time he's had at least 22 points and 12 rebounds, but the first since March 25, 2007.
"This is the first time in 2 1/2, three years where I feel real good, the body is responding great, my movements are great, no knee braces. I've really looked forward to this," said O'Neal, who averaged 13.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in 27 games after being traded to Miami on Feb. 13.
So should teammate Dwyane Wade, who had 26 points on 10 of 22 shooting Wednesday. New starting forward Michael Beasley added 21 for the Heat, who shot 56.6 percent - including a 26-of-31 shooting stretch that spanned parts of the second and third quarters - and had five players reach double figures.
"Pick your poison," said Beasley, who averaged 13.9 points during a disappointing 2008-09 rookie season. "When we all play like that, it makes the game a whole lot easier."
The reigning NBA scoring champion, Wade is averaging 27.0 points against Indiana.
Granger, averaging 19.0 points in seven home games against Miami, had 31 in the Pacers' 120-109 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday. Though he's been hampered by a bruised heel, Granger is expected to play Friday.
"I think if I can get through this game (Friday) we've got a stretch of a few days off so I should be OK," said Granger, who was 5 of 10 from 3-point range.
The Pacers can't afford to be without Granger - who averaged a career-high 25.8 points per game last season - considering Troy Murphy was the only other starter in double figures with 14 points in the opener.
Indiana shot 53.4 percent from the field but 5 of 15 in the fourth quarter. The Pacers also committed 25 turnovers that led to 32 Atlanta points.
Despite recording a second-straight 36-46 season, Indiana went 25-16 at home in 2008-09.
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