INDIANAPOLIS -- This time, the power of two was enough.
With power forward Chris Bosh still out with a lower-abdominal strain, the Miami Heat's tag team of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade landed the equivalent of a shot to the gut to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday afternoon with a 101-93 victory over the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"You get the ball out of one of those guys' hands and it gets to the other guy's," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "It's not like one superhero and a bunch of role guys."
James closed with 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, and Wade added 30 points, nine rebounds and six assists as the Heat ties the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-2.
"This is the epitome of a No. 2-No. 3 matchup," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's just survival."
This time, James and Wade were enough to overcome the depth of the Pacers, who were led by the 20 points of forward Danny Granger.
"Me and 'Bron both had it going, and played off each other well," Wade said.
As had been the case in the previous two games, which both went in the favor of the Pacers, the third quarter again defined this one. This time it was the Wade-and-James show, with the two scoring 28 of the Heat's 30 points (14 apiece). That allowed the Heat to take a 76-70 lead into the fourth quarter.
"In the third quarter, it was just too much," Granger said.
And then some.
Unlike previous either-or times with James and Wade, this time the two played brilliantly off one another.
"Obviously, we've come a long way with that," Spoelstra said. "We used to be a stand-and-watch-each-other team with those two guys."
The Heat used a 25-5 burst to surge to a 76-66 lead late in the third. In fact, until power forward Udonis Haslem hit a pair of free throws with 1:30 left in the third period, no Heat player other than James or Wade had scored since Haslem converted a pair of free throws with 2:51 to play in the second period.
Wade shot poorly at the start, opening 1-for-8 from the field, but he then made all six of his shots in the third quarter to improve to 9 of 16. By then, James already was rolling.
"Both of those guys knew they had to be actively involved," Spoelstra said.
The Heat were able to rally when Pacers center Roy Hibbert was called for a fourth foul with 5:03 to play in the third period.
"We never thought it would be easy," Granger said.
Earlier, the Pacers used a 9-0 run to push their lead to double digits in the second quarter, and they led 54-46 at halftime.
Indiana entered 15-0 this season when leading by eight or more at the half.
This time, eight wasn't enough.
For the Heat, it was James and little else over the opening 24 minutes, with the Heat forward scoring 19 in the first half.
The Pacers, by contrast, got their typical balance early, with Granger and Darren Collison each scoring 10 first-half points.
The Pacers led 25-18 after the first quarter, after pushing to a 9-0 lead. The Heat were sloppy early, missing their first four shots and committing four turnovers over that span.
James and Wade opened a combined 1 of 7 from the field, but James came around to shoot 4-for-9 in the opening period for nine points, scoring or assisting on every Heat point in the first quarter.
Foul trouble was a problem early, with Heat center Ronny Turiaf forced to the bench with his second foul with 9:56 to play in the opening period and Pacers forward David West forced to the bench with his second foul with 7:15 to play in the opening period.
The Heat shot 3-for-3 on 3-pointers in the first period, having entered 5-of-42 from beyond the arc in the series' first three games.
NOTES: For the fourth time in as many games this series, the Heat went with a different starting lineup, this time with Turiaf replacing Game 3 starter Dexter Pittman at center. Shane Battier made his second start of the playoffs, in place of Haslem. ... The Heat again switched road uniforms, going from the red alternate uniforms they wore Game 3 in to Sunday's standard road black. ... James spent part of the pregame period reading "Hunger Games." ... Heat forward Juwan Howard and Pacers guard Lance Stephenson had words pregame about the choke sign Stephenson made when James missed a free throw in Game 3. ... Carl Erskine, 85, a former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher and a native of Anderson, Ind., who pitched in five World Series, performed the national anthem on the harmonica.
Delivered to your inbox
|Best of Yardbarker||NFL News||MLB News||NBA News||NHL News|
Today's Best Stuff