MIAMI, May 18 (Ticker) -- Jermaine O'Neal
and the Indiana Pacers ended
the Miami Heat's home winning streak and their season.
O'Neal came up with two huge defensive plays in the final 65
seconds as the Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals
for the first time in four years with a 73-70 victory over the
The top-seeded Pacers held on to register the first road win in
the series and close out the pesky Heat in six games. They
snapped Miami's 18-game home winning streak.
NBA TV highlights from|
Nestlé Crunch Time:
O'Neal block -
Ron Artest and the Pacers dunked the Heat in Game 6 to win the series 4-2.
"This was the most tied together our team has been all year,"
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
said. "Our concentration was great.
We had 12 guys completely committed to each other."
Limited to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting, O'Neal found other
ways to impact the game. The All-Star forward pulled down 13
rebounds and blocked three shots, including one Carlisle called
"the play of the game."
Indiana had a 71-67 lead when Miami's Caron Butler
what appeared to be an uncontested layup. O'Neal soared from
the weak side and snuffed the shot while taking a finger in the
left eye from Butler.
"He stuck his finger in my eye and pushed it back," O'Neal said.
"I don't think it was intentional."
"O'Neal's block on Caron was unbelievable," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy
said. "That was just a great, great block by a great
O'Neal left the court, unable to open his eye. But after a
layup by Dwyane Wade
and a turnover by Jamaal Tinsley
Heat a chance to tie, he returned with 26 seconds remaining.
dribbled into the lane and encountered O'Neal, who
forced a high shot that bounced off the top and over the
backboard with 17 seconds to play. Jones made just 6-of-21
"Eddie did not get a good shot off," Van Gundy said. "I think
he tried to do a little too much. He was aggressive, fearless.
He was trying to make a play. Sometimes they go in; sometimes
sank two free throws before the Pacers survived
a potential tying 3-pointer by Rafer Alston
that was well short
at the buzzer.
Indiana is in the conference finals for the first time since
2000, the year of their only NBA Finals appearance. On
Saturday, it hosts the winner of Thursday's game between New
Jersey and Detroit.
Miami lost at home for the first time since March 2, ending a
remarkable run. The Heat won 17 of their last 21 games to grab
home-court advantage in the first round, beat New Orleans in
seven games for their first series win in three years and gave
Indiana all it could handle.
"We didn't believe it was going to come to an end tonight," Wade
said. "We came in with a lot of confidence. We had our stuff
packed already to go to Game 7, but it didn't happen that
way. None of us are going home with our heads down. We're
going to keep our heads up because we know it was a great year."
"You have to tip your hat to this Miami Heat team," O'Neal said.
"They are well-coached and they play with a lot of heart. It
is a team you will have to watch out for in a couple of years.
I think they are one post player away from being one of the
elite teams. To get a win in this building, you have to bring
Both teams shot terribly. The Pacers made 32 percent (22-of-68)
from the field while Miami shot just 30.5 percent (25-of-82).
"If we can shoot 32 percent and win, that means we can win when
the conditions are not the best," Carlisle said.
carried Indiana's offense with 27 points, 11 in the
third quarter. He had a driving layup that gave the Pacers the
lead for good at 67-66 with 3:38 to play.
sank a tough floater and followed in his own miss
around a free throw by Jones, pushing the margin to 71-67 with
"The feeling we have is that we're capable of doing just about
anything if we play together, and that's what we did tonight,"
said Tinsley, who scored 10 points. "Tonight was about us
stepping up together as a team and getting it done."
Wade scored 24 points and Lamar Odom
added 22 for the Heat.
Wade scored eight points in the first four minutes of the fourth
quarter to give Miami a 62-61 lead but took a seat with his
fifth foul less than a minute later.