Indiana Pacers even up series with 97-93 win over Miami Heat

Miami's LeBron James gets 36 points Friday night but has two late turnovers. Series, tied at 1-1, continues with Game 3 on Sunday night at Indiana.

May 24, 2013|By Ira Winderman
  • Pacers guard Paul George lets out a yell as he's embraced by teammate Ian Mahinmi after dunking against the Heat in the second half of Game 2 on Friday night in Miami.
Pacers guard Paul George lets out a yell as he's embraced by teammate… (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images )

MIAMI — LeBron James gave it everything. And still more was required.

This time, he wound up as something less than hero for the Miami Heat, with a pair of critical late turnovers.

These Indiana Pacers aren't going anywhere, especially with the next two games of the Eastern Conference finals shifting to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Even with James at the top of his game for all but the final possessions, the Pacers had enough to tie the best-of-seven series with the Heat at 1-1 with a 97-93 victory Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"This whole team has just shown great desire," Pacers Coach Frank Vogel said. "They believe we can win this series, and they're giving it all their might, all their might."

To a degree, so did James, including blocking a shot against towering Pacers center Roy Hibbert on one sequence and winning a jump ball against Hibbert on another.

Yet while James closed with 36 points, what will be remembered from this one are his fourth and fifth turnovers, plays in the waning seconds that kept the Heat from the dramatics it produced in Wednesday's 103-102 overtime Game 1 victory.

"He played one of the best basketball games I've ever seen anybody play," Vogel said.

But there simply wasn't enough in support, with Chris Bosh, with 17 points, and Dwyane Wade, with 14, the only other Heat players in double figures.

"This game was about them making great plays and us responding with even greater plays," Vogel said.

Hibbert led the Pacers with 29 points, supported by 22 from Paul George, 18 from George Hill and 13 from David West.

"We just didn't finish the game like we're capable of," Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We're supposed to find a way to close out those games and we didn't."

With the Heat twice in position to tie late, James — the hero of Game 1 for Miami with his driving layup with 2.2 seconds left in overtime — this time came up short.

The series now shifts to Indiana for Games 3 and 4, starting Sunday at 8:30 p.m. The winner of the series faces the winner of the San Antonio Spurs-Memphis Grizzlies series in the NBA Finals, with the Spurs up 2-0 in the Western Conference finals heading into Saturday's Game 3.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Vogel said.

After being forced out of Game 1 in the third quarter with a bruised left shoulder, Miami point guard Mario Chalmers was back in the starting lineup, although he appeared to be favoring the shoulder at times.

Basically, the support system failed James, with Ray Allen and Shane Battier again unable to hit jumpers, and Chris Andersen this time limited by foul trouble.

"We had enough opportunities there in the fourth to close it out," Spoelstra said. "Offensively we just did not execute or gets shots or the type of shots we wanted."

When Bosh drained a three-point shot off a Chalmers assist, the Heat moved to an 88-84 Heat lead with 6:09 to play, completing a 7-0 run.

But when Bosh later was off with a three-point shot, Pacers guard Lance Stephenson converted a three-pointer on the other end to draw Indiana within 88-87, with Hibbert scoring inside for an 89-88 Pacers lead.

Following a 24-second violation on the Pacers, James scored in the lane, was fouled and converted the free throw for a 91-89 Heat lead, only to see Hibbert tie it 91-91 with a jump hook.

James then was off with a three-pointer, as was Chalmers, with a West basket putting Indiana up 93-91.

Bosh then worked his way to the line with 1:44 to play, tying it 93-93 with a pair of free throws.

After a Heat defensive stop, Wade was off with a floater in the lane. Chalmers then fouled Pacers point guard George Hill, who converted both free throws to put Indiana up 95-93.

James then followed with his consecutive turnovers, effectively ending it.

"It's not just those two plays," Spoelstra said.

Having won 46 of 49 prior to Friday's rare home loss, the Heat now have to go to a building where they were blown out twice during the regular season.

"Look," Spoelstra said, "this series is very close, the lead changes, we had opportunities at the end.

"The story lines will change, but we know the deal. It's a very close series."

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