Hibbert and George lead the Pacers charge against defending champions.
With eight games on the NBA schedule on Tuesday night, the Indiana Pacers stole the headlines with their win over rivals the Miami Heat to improve their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference.
With Roy Hibbert dominating in the paint and ending the game with 24 points, Paul George overcame a slow start to hit two big 3-pointers to help rally his team from a seven-point half-time deficit.
“It was fun, a real intense game,” George told reporters after the game. “Both teams were playing at a high level. You could see an urgency to win this game tonight.”
The win moves the Pacers to 19-3 for the season while also taking them to a perfect 10-0 start at home, while the Heat fell to their third loss in five games and are three games behind at 16-6.
While the defending champions were keen to downplay the importance of the match-up prior to the game, they will know that they can ill-afford to fall further behind in the race to gain home-court advantage.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, there were mixed results for the two New York teams as the Knicks fell to a loss at Cleveland while the Brooklyn Nets picked up the win against the Boston Celtics.
Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving was a candidate for player of the night after he went 14-of-23 from the field for his game-high 37 points, while the Nets benefited from having an almost full-strength line-up with Deron Williams ending with a game-high 25 points on his return from injury.
The Knicks remain near the bottom of the East at 5-15, while their city rivals improve to 7-14 and are now incredibly on the brink of moving into the playoff spots.
Over in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder made it three consecutive wins and 9-1 in their last 10 outings following their 101-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Kevin Durant recorded a double-double, with 30 points and 10 rebounds, although his efficiency was low after going 9-of-21.
Nevertheless,they remain in third spot after the San Antonio Spurs also won on Tuesday, securing a 116-103 win over the Toronto Raptors.
As usual, coach Gregg Popovich kept minutes for his starters under 30, with the points being shared right across the roster as Manu Ginobili was the top performer with 16 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds.
New York Knicks 94-109 Cleveland Cavaliers
Miami Heat 84-90 Indiana Pacers
San Antonio Spurs 116-103 Toronto Raptors
Oklahoma City Thunder 101-92 Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics 96-104 Brooklyn Nets
Minnesota Timberwolves 121-94 Detroit Pistons
Milwaukee Bucks 78-74 Chicago Bulls
Phoenix Suns 114-108 Los Angeles Lakers