(Sports Network) - Miami remains the prohibitive favorite to come out of the
Eastern Conference in the NBA playoffs, but what looked like a coronation a
couple days ago has morphed into a dogfight after the injury to Heat big man
With Game 2 on the line Tuesday, neither LeBron James or Dwyane Wade took the
final shot for the Heat, and Indiana held on to even their Eastern Conference
semifinal series after two games.
David West scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds while George Hill added 15
points, including a big free throw with 14.1 seconds left, as the Pacers
earned a 78-75 victory in South Florida.
"We can't get too excited because we won one game," West said. "That's not our
goal in this series. We can't overreact because we were able to get one game
Roy Hibbert made 1-of-2 free throws with 32 seconds left to give the Pacers a
77-75 lead. Wade then spun around Hill to the left, but a layup attempt came
up short with under 17 seconds to go.
"I was kind of falling a little bit," Wade said. "With a little contact, I
just got a little too far to the rim."
With 14.1 seconds left, Hill made his first attempt from the charity stripe at
the other end, but the second clanked off the rim and the ball was deflected
to the other end of the court. Hill tried to save the ball, but stepped on the
end line, giving Miami possession with 8.3 seconds to go.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra used James and Wade as high-priced decoys for Mario
Chalmers, who lofted a three-point try off the rim and time expired.
James had 28 points and Wade scored 24 for the shorthanded Heat, who shot just
34.6 percent and were outscored 28-14 in the third quarter. No other Miami
player mustered more than five points, the first time in the franchise's 24-
years of existence that only two players scored more than five points in a
The Heat captured the opener on Sunday with a 95-86 triumph, but lost Bosh to
a lower abdominal strain.
"We have to do a better job of getting our guys in a rhythm so they can
contribute," James said. "We need everyone."
It was a case of poor shooting for the Heat, who went 1-of-16 from three-point
range and also missed half of their 10 free throws in the final quarter. That
included a 4-of-8 performance from James in the last 12 minutes.
"We had our opportunities, obviously we did not shoot the ball very well,"
Spoelstra said. "We still put ourselves in a position to win there at the end.
We couldn't get quite over the hump."
The Heat missed their final six field goal attempts and James, the newly-
crowned MVP, failed on two foul shots with 54.3 seconds left.
The Pacers, who finished with a 50-40 edge on the glass, crashed the boards to
create extra opportunities in the closing minute. After Hill's layup and
West's tip try both missed, the ball was tapped back to Leandro Barbosa, who
drove to the basket before dishing to Hibbert, who was hammered under the hoop
to set up the dramatic finish.
"We knew that if we came into this place and limited their transition buckets
and their offensive rebounds, then we'd be all right," Hibbert said. "Everyone
did a great job. We got some fast-break points."
There was some physical play that led to technical fouls and a flagrant foul
call in the final quarter. Wade pushed Darren Collison in the back during an
Indiana fast-break chance and was given a flagrant foul. James and Danny
Granger exchanged words and were each given a technical with 7:25 left in the
game, this after the three-time MVP scored a layup.
In the end Miami lost for the first time in its last 14 playoff games at home
against East opponents.
Bosh, who scored 13 points before suffering the injury shortly before
halftime of the Heat's 95-86 victory on Sunday, is out indefinitely after an
MRI on Monday confirmed a strained lower abdominal muscle.
"This season has to be extended for me to play again," he said. "So that's
what's on my mind."
His absence has let doubt creep into the mind of the Heat and buoyed the
confidence of the Pacers.
"We've got to keep our edge," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "We understand
that we feel good about who we are as a basketball team and that we can win
this series. But that means nothing. We've got to do it in between the lines."
Miami won three of the four from Indiana in the regular season. The only
other playoff meeting between the Pacers and Heat came in 2004 in the East
semifinals with Indiana winning in six games.
Game 4 of the series will be in Indianapolis on Sunday.
The Sports Network