Pacers frustrate Heat to force Game 7
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — Game 7 became a certainty in the Eastern Conference finals after one key call didn’t go the Miami Heat’s way Saturday, and they exploded in reaction. But this time, not for a win.
LeBron James and assistant Dave Fizdale were called for technical fouls in the fourth quarter after an offensive foul on James, right as the Heat were pushing for a comeback from a 17-point deficit.
The play was just part of strong Indiana Pacers second half in which the home team stunned Miami with a devastating third quarter toward a 91-77 victory here in Game 6.
“I had to run down the court to avoid being thrown out. I thought it was a pretty bad call,” James said. “I don’t complain about calls a lot, but I thought me and Hibbert met at the mountaintop. Basically, I went straight up. I knew he was going to a high hand, so I went to a double-clutch, to try, and I was able to go over the top.
“I have no idea why that was an offensive foul. So to stop me from being ejected, I just ran away from the ref that called it. … I said absolutely nothing. I ran down the court to get me away from the scene of the crime, I guess.”
After building a 68-51 lead late in the third quarter, the Pacers had to hold off the Heat’s expected comeback attempt.
They did, and now Game 7 is Monday in Miami (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT).
The Pacers face another monumental task: beat Miami on the road and become the first team in the series to win consecutive games – all the more difficult considering the Heat haven’t lost two in a row since January.
This will be the Pacers’ first Game 7 under Coach Frank Vogel, who has believed his team could beat Miami since the start of the series.
“If you’re an elimination game, there’s always going to be some desperation, but we’re still very confident,” Vogel said early in the day.
A combination of desperation and confidence extended Indiana’s season at least one more game.