Indiana nearly steals a win, till James steps in

May 23, 2013|Ira Winderman
  • LeBron James scores the game-winning layup as the clock expires in overtime giving the Miami Heat a 103-102 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
LeBron James scores the game-winning layup as the clock expires in overtime… (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images )

MIAMI — Paul George seemingly had stolen the night.

First with a three-pointer with 0.7 of a second left in regulation to force overtime.

Then with three free throws with 2.2 seconds left in overtime after he was fouled on a three-point attempt, to put the Indiana Pacers up by one.


Because LeBron James also was in the building.

Down one, with their superstar already with a triple-double, the Heat turned to its leader.

Head down, with eyes only on the rim, James responded with a driving layup just before the night's fifth and final buzzer, giving the Heat a 103-102 victory Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.

"He saw daylight and was just aggressive without any thought to do anything else," Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "In the end, it just came down to finding a way."

The Pacers thought they already had it, with George, the emerging young forward, having the type of moments that usually take a complete series to find.

Not on this night, not with James finishing with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

James had room to work on the last play because the Heat was able to space the floor, Pacers Coach Frank Vogel deciding to pull shot-blocking center Roy Hibbert.

Ultimately, George took the blame for allowing James' winning drive.

"I slipped up," he said. "I just slipped up at the end.

"I was up too close to him. You've got to make him shoot a jumper."

James downplayed the moment.

"I just made a layup," he said. "I've been doing that since I was 8 years old."

Perhaps Heat forward Shane Battier put it best when he described the night as, "No way we should win this game, to no way we should lose this game, to what the hell just happened?"

James was supported by 19 points from guard Dwyane Wade, who played with a bounce in his step despite lingering knee pain, 17 from center Chris Bosh, and 16 from backup center Chris Andersen, who made all seven of his shots, a Heat playoff record.

George paced the Pacers with 27 points, supported by 26 points from David West.

Said George, "We've got to feel good about how we played."

Wade felt better after the Heat escaped his late foul that sent George to the line for his three free throws with 2.2 seconds to play.

George made all three foul shots for a 102-101 lead, a stunning follow up to his three-pointer at the end of regulation.

Off its final timeout, with 2.2 seconds on the clock, the Heat went to James.


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