Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives between Pacers guard D.J. Augustin… (Lynne Sladky / Associated…)
MIAMI -- This was not the script, couldn't have been the script.
Not with Dwyane Wade failing to score his second basket until midway through the fourth quarter, not with LeBron James converting his first free throw late in the fourth.
But with James taking control of the script in the third quarter, the latest chapter of the Heat's Big Three experience is down to this: Miami now is one victory from its third consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals.
Moving to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals with Thursday's 90-79 victory over the Indiana Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat can close out the series Saturday at Indianapolis.
BOX SCORE: Heat 90, Pacers 79
With Wade and center Chris Bosh combining for a meager 17 points on six-for-15 shooting, James turned the Heat's Big Three into the ultimate one, when he scored 16 of his 30 points in the third quarter, outscoring the Pacers by three in the period.
“That's LeBron showing his greatness and making it look easy,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. “His engine in that third quarter was incredible. He was tireless. He was making plays on both ends of the court, rebounding, covering so much ground defensively, and then making virtually every play for us offensively.”
Pacers Coach Frank Vogel agreed.
“He was pretty special tonight,” he said.
James said he recognized that the burden would be his.
“I just kind of went back to my Cleveland days at that point,” he said of being a singular star with the Cavaliers. “I just tried to figure out a way to see if the guys would just follow me, lead them the best way I could.”
With forward Udonis Haslem sparking the Heat's 30-13 third quarter, first with an emphatic dunk and then with three consecutive baseline jumpers, the Heat overcame what proved to be a big-three effort from the Pacers: 27 points from small forward Paul George, 22 from center Roy Hibbert, 17 from power forward David West, and precious little else.
James, who added eight rebounds and six assists, by contrast, got solid supporting efforts not only from Haslem but also from point guard Mario Chalmers. Haslem closed with 16 points and was praised by Spoelstra for his defensive effort.
“We've seen it so many times,” Spoelstra said. “You take this all the way back to our  championship run; the deeper you went, the more of an impact he had.
“But he really set the physical tone for us defensively, taking the challenge. And in the third quarter, he was everywhere, on traps, covering ground, covering up for our guys, helping out, charges, rebounds. He was tireless, as well.”
Chalmers added 12 points and six assists.
The Heat limited the Pacers' starting backcourt of George Hill and Lance Stephenson to five points on two-for-11 shooting, with Stephenson in foul trouble from the opening minutes.