NBA

Pacers frustrate Heat, steal home-court advantage with win

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Associated Press
5/15/2012 11:51:43 PM
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MIAMI -- No Big Three meant one big problem for Miami, and one very big win for Indiana.

David West scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, George Hill added 15 and the Indiana Pacers took home-court advantage away from Miami by beating the Heat 78-75 in Game 2 of the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal series Tuesday night.

LeBron James scored 28 points for Miami and Dwyane Wade finished with 24, but both missed big chances for the Heat late. James missed two free throws with 54.3 seconds left and Miami down one, and Wade was short on a layup that would have tied the game with 16 seconds remaining.

Mario Chalmers' 3-pointer to tie bounced away on the final play, and the series was tied 1-1.

Danny Granger scored 11 points and Paul George added 10 for Indiana, which took advantage of Heat forward Chris Bosh's absence and outrebounded Miami 50-40.

Game 3 is Thursday in Indianapolis.

James had a chance to give Miami the lead with 1:22 left, but his shot was blocked from behind by George, who was fouled two seconds later. He missed both free throws, keeping the Indiana lead at 76-75. And after Wade missed a jumper, James was fouled by Granger -- his sixth -- battling for the rebound with 54.3 seconds remaining.

James couldn't connect on either, and the Heat didn't score again.

Bosh is expected to miss the rest of the series with a strained abdominal muscle. Without him, James and Wade combined for 52 points -- and no other Miami player scored more than five.

A dreadful third quarter by Miami -- 3 for 17 shooting -- allowed Indiana to lead by as much as 11, before the emotions picked up considerably in the fourth.

Wade was steaming when he missed a shot after trying to create contact with Indiana's Dahntay Jones with 9:53 left. As Wade argued, Jones went the other way and set Leandro Barbosa up for a score that put the Pacers up 63-56.

Chalmers turned the ball over on the next possession, and as the Pacers took off for what set up as a 2-on-none break, Wade caught Darren Collison from behind and knocked him over. A flagrant-1 was called, Collison hit both free throws, the Indiana lead was nine and tensions were suddenly high.

It all seemed to spark Miami.

The Heat scored the next six points, James -- who got hit in the head by Granger with 7:25 left, sparking a bit of shoving that led to double-technicals given to both players -- added a putback off an offensive rebound and Wade did the same about a minute later, getting Miami within 69-66 with 5:57 left.

James missed a free throw that would have tied it with 4:30 remaining, but after George got the rebound, James dove in to create a jump ball situation. The MVP easily won the tap, sending it to Wade, whose bank shot over West put Miami back on top 72-71.

Barbosa scored on the next Indiana possession. The Pacers weren't rattled, and left celebrating minutes later.

Indiana scored 16 points in the first seven minutes of the first half, then scored 17 in the next 17 minutes. And even after a drought like that, Miami's lead was only 38-33 at the break.

George missed four shots in a 60-second span early on, setting the tone for an icy-cold half by the Pacers. Indiana was up 16-9 midway through the first when the Heat went to a smaller lineup that paid quick dividends.

Three baskets at the rim -- a layup by Wade, then James firing a pass to Turiaf for a dunk, followed by a Wade touch pass to James for another slam -- erased most of the early deficit, and defence did the rest. Indiana missed 24 of 29 shots in one stretch, and after Hibbert used his size advantage to get three shots in the first 1:11, he only got two attempts over the rest of the half.

Miami was 0-for-7 on shots that would have pushed its margin to double digits in the first half, continuing a trend from Game 1. Neither team ever led the series opener by more than nine either, and when George made a 3-pointer with 6:09 left in the third, the Pacers had pulled into a 46-all tie. A steal and dunk by George followed on the next possession, putting the Pacers back on top.

Before long, the Pacers had that first 10-point edge of the series. Collison's jumper with 1:29 left in the third put Indiana up 59-49, and the margin was 61-52 entering the fourth.

For as bad as Indiana's first half was offensively, Miami's third quarter was equally dreadful -- the Heat were outscored 28-14 on 3-for-17 shooting in the period, the third-worst shooting effort by the reigning East champs in any quarter this season.

NOTES: James' six steals were a Heat playoff record. ... Trying to exploit the size advantage with Bosh out, the Pacers gave Hibbert three shots in the first 1:11 of the game. He got three the rest of the game. ... Wade is now 39-11 in home playoff games. ... James will play his 100th playoff game Thursday.

Darren Collinson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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