Pacers win in Miami to tie series
MIAMI — The Miami Heat got some of the best of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but a two-man game for a team built around the premise of a Big Three wasn’t enough Tuesday night.
With a more balanced attack, the Indiana Pacers defeated the Heat 78-75 at AmericanAirlines Arena to tie this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series a 1-1, with Game 3 Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“How we felt after Game 1 is how they feel right now,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
While James led the Heat with 28 points and Wade added 24, the Heat simply lacked enough with forward Chris Bosh sidelined by a lower-abdominal strain sustained in the Heat’s Sunday Game 1 victory.
“Anytime one of our players is out, especially when Chris is out, we’re going to miss him,” James said. “He’s a big part of our team. He does some things. We know Chris is out indefinitely, everybody has to pick it up.”
Forward David West paced the Pacers with 16 points, supported by 15 from point guard George Hill and forward Danny Granger scoring 11.
“We can’t be too excited because we won one game,” West said. “That’s not our goal in this series.”
Yet Wade said the Pacers appeared to be plenty excited, comparing their postgame celebration to how the Dallas Mavericks celebrated when they won last season’s NBA title.
“They celebrated like Dallas, I guess,” Wade said. “I saw the celebration a little bit at the end.”
The game appeared to turn when Wade, out of frustration, committed a flagrant foul on Pacers point guard Darren Collison with 9:27 to play in the fourth quarter. Collison’s free throws put Indiana up 65-56.
Play grew even more intense from there, with James and Granger called for a double-technical with 7:25 to play, after a James layup drew the Heat within 65-62.
The Heat then closed within 69-67 on a James free throw with 5:33 to play, and a bank shot by Wade with 4:11 to play gave the Heat a 72-71 lead.
It stayed close from there, with James missing inside and the Heat then fouling Pacers forward Paul George with 1:20 to play. George, however, missed both free throws, to leave Indiana up 76-75.
James then rebounded an errant Wade jumper and was fouled by Granger, who fouled out on the play. James missed both free throws, to drop to 8-for-13 from the line and push the Heat to 20-of-29 from the line.
It again appeared to be a fatigue issue for James, who played the entire second half for a second consecutive game.
“LeBron, in a competitive series, this is what he can expect,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James’ misses left Indiana in possession with 53.1 seconds to play, up one.
The Pacers then secured an offensive rebound, and center Roy Hibbert was fouled with 32 seconds to play. He continued the run of errant foul shots, missing the first, but making the second for a 77-75 Indiana lead.
From there, Wade was short on a layup, as James opted to pass three times on the possession. After being fouled, Hill made only one of two free throws to put the Pacers up 78-75.
The game ended with Heat guard Mario Chalmers off on a 3-pointer.
“Well, welcome to the playoffs for us,” Spoelstra said. “That’s how we’re viewing it. The series has started. They won on our home court, now we have to gather ourselves, collect ourselves.”
And find a way to score in Bosh’s absence.
“We win as a team; we lose as a team,” Wade said. “We got to do a better job of trying to find out how we can get those guys more involved.
“Me and LeBron also will make sure the opportunities we have will be a little more effective.”
NOTES: With Bosh out, the Heat replaced him in the starting lineup with Ronny Turiaf. Turiaf had started all four games in the playoffs for the Knicks last season, before watching this season’s opening round from the bench . . . With Bosh out, James said there could be a benefit to him getting more time in the series at power forward. “It helps at times, because I’m able to be down there and get more rebounds and I can start the break,” he said. “But it’s definitely more taxing, more tiring at times.” . . . Even with Bosh out, the Heat elected to keep Eddy Curry on Tuesday’s inactive list, where he has resided the entire postseason. Guard Terrel Harris instead was activated for the Heat . . . Vogel said the defensive assignment on Wade and James, respectively, will naturally consume additional energy from George and Granger. “Paul and Danny both understand that they have major defensive responsibilities in this series, and it is going to limit them some offensively,” he said before Tuesday’s game. “We are just looking for efficiency out of them.”