Here they came again, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade steamrolling Miami back into the game, wiping out an 11-point Indiana lead and bringing the Pacers to the brink of a 2-0 deficit.
Only this time, it was the Heat that wilted.
Leandro Barbosa scored the go-ahead bucket and David West rose above James in the lane for another big score as the Pacers took a 76-75 lead and then shut out the Heat in the final 2:40 for a thrilling 78-75 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Pacers evened the series by snapping Miami's 13-game postseason home winning streak against Eastern Conference opponents, and will try to take a 2-1 lead in Game 3 Thursday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
By The Numbers
West led the Pacers with 16 points and 10 rebounds, his second double-double in two games against Miami and the eighth of his postseason career. George Hill scored 15. Danny Granger had 11 points, six rebounds and three assists but shot 5-of-14. Paul George had 10 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. The Pacers shot 38 percent and committed 20 turnovers but outrebounded Miami 50-40.
James scored 28 with nine rebounds and five assists for the Heat, while Wade had 24 points, six rebounds and four assists. But the absence of All-Star forward Chris Bosh was felt as no other Miami player scored more than five points. The Heat shot 34.6 percent for the game and had just 11 assists against 12 turnovers.
"Welcome to Eastern Conference playoff basketball. Obviously very pleased to get the win. Our team has won with defense and rebounding all year. Those are the two areas that hurt us most in Game 1. The transition game and rebounding they won (in Game 1). Tonight we won those two battles and helped us get over the hump." – Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
"We understand that offense is going to come and go. Our defense has got to be our staple. Our guys competed harder tonight than they probably have in the entire season." – Vogel
"He’s our backbone. I don’t know how else to say it. He’s stronger. He’s our leader. He keeps guys in those situations – kept our guys out of trouble, out of a bad situation. He was very active on the glass and had a couple big buckets. He led us in huddles. I can’t say enough positive things about David West. I’m glad he is on our team." – Vogel
"We really did find a way to win. We missed a lot of free throws, they missed some free throws, made the ones that counted. It was a tough, nasty game." – Granger
"We just kept relying on our defense. Those guys (James and Wade) got a lot of points but I think the third-leading scorer on their team had about five points and that's what you want to do. If LeBron James gets 11 assists, they're probably going to win. They scored a lot, we stopped everyone else and we just kept relying on our defense. We held them to 34 percent and it carried us to the win." – Granger
"We know they're going to make shots. They're great players. But we figured they're capable of missing some, too. And they missed the ones we really needed them to miss the most." – Hill
"They're a physical team, we're a physical team but it's who's going to be mentally strong when the time counts." – Hibbert
"Everybody did a great job. This is what it is all about in the playoffs; it's seven games. We did some adjustments and we came back and played and we did it tonight. Everybody did a good job tonight. Paul George did a tremendous job from a defensive standpoint and we finished the game with a victory." – Barbosa
"For me, personally, it's just fun to be in that situation. This is what it's all about. We've just got to have fun and play as hard as we can, very physical. We're going home now, our fans at our back, and do the same thing." – Barbosa
"We feel good. We battled them tough both games and came away 1-1. That's all you can ask for at the end of the day. We go back to our place and hope to continue the success we've been having so far." – George
"They made their runs, we made our runs. We're not a sub-par basketball team. We're contenders. It's a game of runs, we were able to endure their punch and take over." – George
Stat of the Game
James and Wade combined for 52 points on 18 of 44 shooting (.409). The rest of the Heat combined to score 23 points on 9 of 34 shooting (.265).
After the Pacers took an 11-point lead late in the third quarter, Wade and James went to work once again, scoring 20 in a 22-10 run that put Miami back in front 72-71 on a Wade bank with 4:11 remaining. But Barbosa and West put them back in front and from there it was a battle of defenses and free throws.
George and James both missed a pair, but Hibbert and Hill made one each as the Pacers took a 78-75 lead with 14 seconds left. Miami set up a 3-point attempt by Chalmers but he missed and time expired.
Both teams missed their first five shots to start the second half but West found the range twice and George tied it 46-all with a 3-pointer with 6:13 remaining. That prompted a timeout in which the Heat went back to the small lineup that outscored the Pacers 29-17 in the first half. It didn't achieve the same results as the Pacers' run extended to 12-0 and the lead to 53-46, with George and Granger finally emerging from their offensive funks to combine for nine points in the burst.
With Miami struggling for offense, the Pacers continued to surge as Leandro Barbosa came off the bench for a couple of driving buckets. The run reached 20-4 and the lead was 61-50 late in the third, but James scored to cut the lead to 61-52 entering the fourth. Indiana held Miami to 3 of 17 shooting and outscored the home team 28-14 in the third quarter.
The first half was a good-news, bad-news proposition for the Pacers. They held Miami to 38 points and 39.5 percent shooting, but could not generate any kind of consistent offense beyond the opening minutes and trailed by five at the break. The Pacers shot 31.7 percent in the half and had nearly as many turnovers (12) as baskets (13).
As in Game 1, they started well, jumping to a 16-9 lead. But once Miami went to a small lineup the Pacers faltered through an epic dry spell in which they missed 18 of 20 shots. That allowed Miami to put together a 20-5 run to take a 29-21 lead midway through the second quarter. After scoring just seven points in the first nine minutes of the period, the Pacers finally found some offense, going on a 9-0 run that took just 80 seconds to tie the game at 33-all on Paul George's fast-break layup. But Miami scored the final two buckets of the half to regain the lead.
Wade picked up a flagrant foul with 9:27 left in the game, shoving Darren Collison to the ground from behind with an elbow in transition. Collison made both free throws to put the Pacers up 65-56. … The chippy play continued a few minutes later when James responded to Granger reaching over his back on a drive with an elbow, and both players picked up technical fouls. … With Bosh out indefinitely with an abdominal strain, Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra moved Ronny Turiaf into the starting lineup. Listed at 6-10, 245, Turiaf started five games during the regular season, averaging 18.4 minutes, 4.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots.