When one of Miami's big three went down, the remaining two proved to be enough.
But only just.
Newly minted MVP LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 59 points -- including 20 in a row in the fourth quarter -- as Miami survived a determined effort by the Pacers to pull out a 95-86 victory in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference Semifinal series Sunday in American Airlines Arena.
Once Chris Bosh left the game late in the first half with a lower abdominal strain, Wade and James just took over, combining for 40 of Miami's 53 second-half points.
Indiana advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals to face the winner of the Miami-New York series. The Heat leads 3-1 heading into Game 5 Wednesday in Miami.
The Pacers will try to even the series in Game 2 here Tuesday at 7 p.m. (TNT, WIBC 93 FM).
By The Numbers
The Pacers got solid games from their big men as David West (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Roy Hibbert (17 points, 11 boards) both had double-doubles. But they got little from the perimeter. George Hill and Darren Collison scored 10 apiece but Danny Granger managed just seven points on 1-of-9 shooting, while Paul George scored six on 1-of-5 shooting. The Pacers shot just 41 percent for the game.
James finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds and five assists for Miami. Wade had 29 and Bosh had 13 points and five rebounds before leaving the game.
Stat of the Game
The Pacers are just 2-14 when losing Game 1 of a playoff series -- but the last two series they have won, including the 4-1 first-round conquest of Orlando, both came after opening-game defeats.
Wade and James combined for all of the points in a 10-2 run early in the fourth quarter that gave Miami its biggest lead, 82-74, but the Pacers answered with an 11-4 run to close to 86-85 on Hill's 3-pointer with 4:49 remaining.
But James scored twice in a row, including a runout dunk, to make it 90-85 and the Pacers would not get another shot at the lead.
With Rony Turiaf replacing Bosh in the Miami lineup, the Pacers came out inexplicably flat in the third quarter, as George Hill and Hibbert both sent themselves to the bench with two fouls apiece in the opening minutes as Miami opened with a 10-4 run to tie it at 52. The Pacers went nearly 9½ minutes without a basket until Granger made his first of the game, a 3-pointer to put Indiana back out in front but with James and Wade combining for 20 of Miami's 28 points in the period, the Heat tied it 70-all heading into the fourth.
The Pacers started strong, putting together an early 13-2 run to take a 13-4 lead as Miami missed seven of its first eight shots and committed four turnovers in the opening minutes. Miami's second unit put together an eight-point run to put the home team in front 20-19 on a Mike Miller jumper from the left wing, but Tyler Hansbrough answered with a pair of elbow jumpers and the Pacers took a 23-20 lead after one quarter. The Pacers had seven assists on 10 buckets in the period.
They stayed in front throughout the second period. Miami closed to 36-34 on a Bosh postup but Hibbert and West combined for all of the points in a 12-5 counter that pushed the lead to 48-39. Bosh completed a three-point play before limping to the locker room late in the half to cut Indiana's halftime margin to 48-42. In the first half, Indiana enjoyed a 19-6 scoring advantage from the bench and got 22 points from West and Hibbert but starting wings Granger and Paul George were scoreless.
Miami shot 6 of 20 in the second period and 37 percent for the half but stayed in the game thanks to a 12-5 advantage in made free throws.
Pacers Coach Frank Vogel rolled the dice early in the third quarter, leaving Hill in the game after the point guard picked up his fourth foul. Less than three minutes later, Hill was called for a charge trying to run into a timeout, a costly fifth foul. … Bosh limped to the locker room with 43 seconds left in the half after sustaining a lower abdominal strain when he landed awkwardly after a dunk. He did not return. … Vogel had little reaction to his $15,000 fine levied by the NBA for his comments related to the officiating earlier this week. "I have the utmost respect for the league office and their officials and I respect their decision," Vogel said. … NBA Commissioner David Stern presented James with his 2011-12 MVP trophy in a brief ceremony before the game.