James, Wade power Heat after Bosh is hurt
MIAMI — Changes are coming in Heat-Pacers.
For the Miami Heat, out of injury necessity.
For the Indiana Pacers, so they won’t keep hearing whistles.
With the Heat moving to a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 95-86 victory Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena, both coaches exited talking about adjustments.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra seemingly will have no other choice, with power forward Chris Bosh lost in the second quarter with a lower-abdominal strain that figures to keep him out for an extended period.
“We have some time now. We don’t know what Chris’ status is,” Spoelstra said. “We won’t know until we get an MRI, move on from there.”
Bosh had 13 points and five rebounds when he was injured. Heat forward LeBron James picked up the slack, closing with 32 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, supported by 29 points from Heat guard Dwyane Wade.
“We took it upon ourselves, me and D-Wade, we had to put the team on our back,” James said. “I made a conscious effort in the second half to rebound the ball even more.”
James played the entire second half.
”I thought about taking him out for a minute,” Spoelstra said. “I just said, ‘No, we’ll figure it out.’ I just looked him straight in the eye and told him, ‘You flat out cannot get tired. Period.”
Not only did James remain an aggressive presence, but he helped harass Danny Granger into 1-of-10 shooting, with the Pacers forward closing with seven points.
“I don’t know if he’s going to have a big series if you’re going to have to guard the MVP for 38 minutes,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Granger. “Obviously LeBron is the MVP because he’s [also] the best defensive player in the league.”
For Vogel, there wasn’t much more than the 17 points apiece from center Roy Hibbert and forward David West. Ultimately, the Pacers were done in by foul trouble for Hibbert, point guard George Hill and shooting guard Paul George, who fouled out.
“We’ve been playing at that aggressive level all year,” West said of the fouls. “When you got guys like Wade and LeBron, they’re going to get the benefit of the doubt, especially when they’re attacking.
“We’re not going to change. We can play a lot better than what we did and we can’t worry about the whistles.”
But Vogel acknowledged there will have to be some changes in the wake of the whistles.
“Our guys were fouling too much,” Vogel said. “We’re trying to be aggressive, but can’t be aggressive and foul unnecessarily.”
The Heat put it away behind a late charge from James and Wade, who combined for 20 consecutive Heat points to put the Heat up 92-86 with just more than a minute to play.
“We knew, as a team, we knew we had to come together,” Wade said. “For myself, I said, ‘I got to be a lot more aggressive.’ And LeBron really turned it up, as well.”
With James scoring 10 points in the third period, the Heat briefly regained the lead in the quarter, before going into the fourth tied 70-70.
From nine points down moments earlier, the Heat went into halftime down 48-42.
It was struggle from the start for Granger, who had his first scoreless first half since 2007.
The Pacers led 23-20 at the end of the first quarter.
NOTES: NBA Commissioner David Stern presented James with his 2012 NBA Most Valuable Player trophy at midcourt just prior to the opening tip . . . Fans were given James MVP white headbands to commemorate the moment . . . Fined $15,000 Saturday by the NBA for his pre-series complaints about how the Heat draw charging calls by flopping, Vogel declined comment Sunday on the sanction. “I have the utmost respect for the league office and their officials. I respect their decision,” he said . . . Vogel said he did not expect the Heat to be forced into matchups against his Pacers in the series. “I think when you have the better record, you do what you do,” he said . . . Sunday was the Pacers’ first appearance on ABC this season and only their second on national television beyond NBA TV.