LeBron James and Dwyane Wade ensured the Miami Heat wouldn’t lose a third straight game in the National Basketball Association playoffs, combining for 70 points in a 101-93 win over the Indiana Pacers that ties their Eastern Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.
The San Antonio Spurs are yet to lose in the postseason, improving to 8-0 with last night’s 102-99 win over the Los Angeles Clippers to complete a four-game sweep.
The Heat, facing a possible 3-1 series deficit, outscored the Pacers 30-16 during the third quarter in Indianapolis to turn a 54-46 deficit into a 76-70 lead. James and Wade combined for 38 straight points during one stretch and had 28 of Miami’s 30 points in the third-quarter surge, with each scoring 14.
“It was a must-win,” James, who had 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, said in a televised interview. “We wanted to get this split. We had a terrible performance in Game 3, so we wanted to redeem ourselves.”
Miami hosts Game 5 of the best-of-seven series tomorrow, while Indiana is home for Game 6 two days later. A decisive seventh game, if necessary, would be played May 26 in Miami.
The Spurs have won 18 straight games dating back to the regular season and will face the Oklahoma City Thunder or Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals.
The Thunder have a 3-1 series lead and host Game 5 tonight, when the Philadelphia 76ers visit the Boston Celtics with their Eastern Conference series tied 2-2.
Wade Bounces Back
Wade had 30 points last night after being held to five on a 2-of-13 shooting effort in Miami’s 94-75 Game 3 loss.
“It was all about adjustments,” Wade told reporters. “That’s what the playoffs are about. One thing I’ve learnt by playing this game: Never get too high, never get too low.”
Udonis Haslem added 14 points off the bench for the Heat, with eight coming in the final six minutes. James, Wade and Haslem combined to score 53 of the 55 second-half points for Miami, which is playing without injured center Chris Bosh.
“They understand with one of our main components out, they have to step up big,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They were tremendous with their force and their will.”
Danny Granger led the Pacers with 20 points last night, while Darren Collison added 16.
“The pressure is still on them,” Granger said of the Heat, who entered the postseason as the oddsmakers’ favorite to win the NBA title. “They have a lot of expectations.”
The Spurs had six players score more than 10 points last night in Los Angeles and were led by Tim Duncan’s 21-point, nine-rebound effort. Tony Parker added 17 points for San Antonio, which hasn’t lost since April 11.
“It was great to have a close game like this,” Duncan said in a televised interview. “It’s good experience for us and our young guys. We’ve been through a lot of battles, but it’s great to have this team in this situation.”
Chris Paul led the Clippers with 23 points and 11 assists, yet missed two chances to put his team ahead or tie in the closing seconds.
With Los Angeles trailing 100-99, he threw an errant pass on a drive to the basket with 11 seconds left for the Clippers’ first turnover of the second half. After Danny Green hit one of two free throws to push the Spurs’ lead to two, Paul came up short on a running shot in the lane with three seconds left.
Blake Griffin added 21 points for Los Angeles.