George Hill hit four straight free throws and LeBron James made two bad passes in the final minute as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Miami Heat 97-93 to even their National Basketball Association playoff series at one game apiece.
James, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player who scored 36 points to lead the defending champion Heat, threw the ball away twice in the closing 42 seconds. Hill scored the game’s final four points to break a 93-93 tie.
“It’s very disappointing, of course, for me,” James said in a news conference. “That’s the first thing I always look at on my stats sheet is the turnovers, and I had two of them at a really key point. My turnovers hurt more than anything, the careless turnovers.”
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is set for tomorrow in Indianapolis. The winner of the series will play the San Antonio Spurs or the Memphis Grizzlies for the NBA title. The Spurs lead that series 2-0, with Game 3 tonight at Memphis.
Roy Hibbert had 29 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena. Paul George added 22 points and spent most of the night guarding James, who won Game 1 with a layup at the final buzzer in overtime. Hill had 18 points.
“This whole team has shown great desire, great heart and great belief, that’s the only way to describe what we’re doing here,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said in a news conference. “It was one of the best basketball games I’ve been a part of.”
Chris Bosh, who had 17 points for Miami, hit two free throws with one minute, 44 seconds remaining to tie the game 93-93, and neither team scored again from the field.
Hill hit two foul shots with 48 seconds remaining, and James had a pass stolen by David West six seconds later. Miami got the ball back and a James pass was deflected by West and stolen by Hill with eight seconds left. James then fouled Hill, who hit both free throws.
“We stayed calm, we stuck together, we didn’t waver,” Hibbert said. “We’re young guys, but we know what we’re doing. We’re a gritty team. They’re on top, but we’re coming for them.”