|Date of game: 5/28/2014
Recap: Indiana vs. Miami
Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers staved off elimination and stayed alive in the Eastern Conference finals by playing their best ball in the second half on Wednesday.
Or better yet, Paul George made sure Indiana continued on at least another game.
George personified Indiana's turnaround as he scored 31 of his 37 points after the break, including 21 in the fourth quarter, in leading the Pacers to a must-win 93-90 decision over the Miami Heat in Game 5.
The Heat, a win away from becoming the fourth team in NBA history to reach the Finals in four consecutive seasons, essentially played the entire second and third quarters without LeBron James, who battled foul trouble throughout and finished with a career playoff-low seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.
"It's not something I'm accustomed to," James said of sitting with foul trouble. "I wasn't able to make plays and help our team win."
Even with James playing only 25 minutes, the Pacers still needed to survive a double-digit deficit and Chris Bosh's contested 3-point try in the closing seconds.
The series shifts back to South Beach for Game 6 on Friday.
After trailing by 11 during an ugly 33-point showing in the first half, the Pacers turned things around with 31 points in the third quarter, including 11 straight at one point with James relegated to a nonessential bystander.
George's steal and fastbreak dunk capped the flurry and gave Indiana a 52-50 lead, and his buzzer-beating 3-pointer had the hosts in front, 64-57, heading into the fourth.
"I just came out firing. My teammates found me and I got hot," said George, who shot 15-of-28 from the floor. "I felt in rhythm, regardless of who was guarding me. I was just in the zone."
Another George slam off a steal pushed Indiana's lead to 77-66 early in the final stanza, but nine consecutive Miami points in less than two minutes brought the Heat right back.
Miami never got over the hump -- thanks to George countering nearly every Heat basket with one of his own -- but the visitors closed within 91-90 following Rashard Lewis' sixth 3-pointer with 16 seconds to go.
Shane Battier was called for a foul away from the ball on the ensuing inbounds play, but George missed the bonus free throw.
David West's 1-of-2 showing at the line gave the two-time defending champions a chance to tie or go in front, and James found Bosh in the corner for a potential go-ahead 3-pointer, but his shot was contested and found all iron.
Roy Hibbert collected the rebound, and Indiana held on for the close win.
The Pacers, who had not won since the series opener, received 19 points from West, 12 points from Lance Stephenson and a 10-point, 13-rebound performance from Hibbert.
Lewis and Dwyane Wade each scored 18 points for the Heat, while Bosh netted 20 with 10 rebounds in the setback.
Indiana was the pace-setter in the opening quarter, hustling to eight second- chance points and a 12-6 edge in the paint in jumping out to a 22-16 lead.
James was on the bench with two fouls when the second quarter began, and Wade and Ray Allen stepped up during a 15-2 run that nullified the Pacers' start.
Wade netted six points during the surge, and Allen ended it by scoring on three straight possessions for a 31-26 Miami lead midway through the frame.
James sat again after picking up his third foul 1:10 after reentering the game, and his absence helped the Pacers pull within two, 33-31, when George Hill banked in a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock.
Miami's role players, though, picked up the slack, as Lewis nailed a 3- pointer, Mario Chalmers converted a three-point play and Allen hit from long range all in the final 90 seconds of the half to send the Heat into the locker room with a 42-33 cushion.Game Notes
The Heat were 11-0 when holding opponents to under 100 points this postseason
... Indiana committed two turnovers in the second half after turning it over
11 times in the first ... The Heat got to the foul line eight times. They shot
34 free throws in Game 4 ... Indiana shot just 13-of-22 from the foul line ...
The Pacers are 0-3 all-time in series trailing 3-1. In the Big Three era, the
Heat are 7-0 in series when leading by the same margin.