No matter the billing, be it playoff preview, regular-season showdown, rivalry game, Wednesday night's Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers largely lived up to the hype in terms of intensity.

This was the type of passion the NBA rarely realizes before the playoffs, let alone before Christmas.

"This is the type of win we needed and we wanted," LeBron James said after the Heat rallied for a 97-94 victory.

The shame is the teams don't meet again until March and won't square off again at AmericanAirlines Arena until April.

"Every game against these guys is going to be a statement game," center Chris Bosh said, saying postgame what his teammates declined to say pregame.

With the victory, one achieved after falling behind by 15 in the third quarter, the Heat moved within one game of the Pacers, who have made the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference their ultimate prize, a goal the Heat largely have downplayed.

But you wouldn't have known that based on Wednesday's frantic finish, one in which coach Erik Spoelstra cobbled together a lineup that featured centers Bosh and Chris Andersen and no point guard, with James effectively playing as the facilitator.

"I was encouraged by our ability just to stay focused and show resolve," Spoelstra said. "A lot of times against this opponent it has to be like that, where it's not smooth."

In the end the Heat got enough from James, Wade and Bosh to realize they still have three aces in the hole.

Wade led the Heat with 32 points, with James adding 24 and Bosh 15.

The irony is that after spending months working his knees back into shape, Wade took the offensive initiative, with James dealing with a sprained left ankle that left his status uncertain until an hour before tip-off.

"I just wanted to be aggressive early on," Wade said. "It just lasted the entire game.

"This is the best I've felt. I just want to keep it up."

Asked how his ankle felt when it was over, James said, "about a seven, a little sore right now. I just couldn't see myself sitting out.

"I'm actually kind of sad we don't play them for three months. The past eight days have been fun."

The Pacers weren't buying James being physically off.

"You guys buy into the hype of him being hurt and all that other stuff," Indiana power forward David West said. "We don't believe that."

The Heat not only fell behind by 15 in the third quarter, but trailed with eight with 3:52 to play.

Asked what spoke to him most about the comeback, Spoelstra said, "The resolve, just to focus on that next possession, focus on what you can control."

This time, foul trouble largely took Pacers center Roy Hibbert and his imposing frame out of the mix. But with Pacers forwards Paul George and West scoring 25 and 23 points, respectively, Indiana nearly had enough to hang on, especially with the Heat dealing with their own foul issues.