The Miami Heat were a shot away Wednesday night from going to their fourth straight NBA finals. But between Paul George’s offensive dominance and a key Indiana Pacers stop on defense, the Pacers put off the celebration in South Beach for at least more more game.
George scored 31 of his 37 points in the second half, highlighted by a 3 with 46 seconds left that put Indiana up by 4. And the Indiana defense, which held a foul-trouble-plagued LeBron James to 7 points, came up with a season-saving stop when a 3-point attempt by Chris Bosh hit the rim with 4 seconds left.
The result was a 93-90 Pacers win that narrowed Miami’s series lead to 3-2 and forced a Game 6 in Miami.
Here’s how it happened:
Paul George Took Over
STILL ALIVE! Paul George puts Pacers on his back with 37 Pts, 6 Reb & 6 Stl in Pacers 93-90 win. pic.twitter.com/QsKDMwZWMd
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 29, 2014
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) May 29, 2014
There was no doubt who the best player on the floor was Wednesday night, and it wasn’t LeBron James, Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh.
George got better as the game went on. He had 6 points at the half and only 16 after three quarters. But he took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 points — the most in a single quarter in his career — and hitting perhaps the biggest shot of the game when his 3 turned a one-possession game into a two-possession game.
Watch the video of the 3 here:
The Pacers Shut Down LeBron James
LeBron James is 2-of-10 from the field after his last airball, but the Heat are down just 2 to the Pacers, 83-81, with 2:54 left. #MIAvsIND
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 29, 2014
James had nearly as many fouls (5) as points (7), by far his worst game of the series. He had the ball on Miami’s final possession and gave it up to Bosh, whose 3 didn’t fall.
Lance Stephenson, who was ridiculed earlier in the series for his attempts at trash talking with LeBron, was doing whatever he could Wednesday to get under the superstar’s skin — even blowing in his ear, which you watch him do here:
Chris Bosh Had a Chance to Win it
Despite everything that went wrong for Miami Wednesday, the Heat trailed by only 2 — 92-90 — with 14 seconds left, and had a chance to tie the game with a 2 or take the lead with a 3.
When James opted to pass rather than shoot in the final possession, he found Bosh in the corner for 3. The shot left Bosh’s hands with about 4 seconds left. Had it fallen, the Heat would have taken a 93-92 lead and the Pacers would have needed a miracle to avoid elimination.
But Bosh missed, Roy Hibbert came away with the rebound, and the Pacers survived. The play resulting in Bosh’s shot starts around the 6:45 mark of the video above.
The Heat Led by 9 at the Half
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 29, 2014
Miami outscored Indiana 26-11 in the second quarter and took a 42-33 lead at the half, leaving Bankers House Fieldhouse eerily quiet with the Pacers 24 minutes from elimination.
But Indiana was as good in the third quarter as it was bad in the second, outscoring the Heat 31-15 and taking a 64-57 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Roy Hibbert Had a Double-Double
Pacers center Roy Hibbert has driven fans crazy all year with wildly inconsistent play, playing like an All-Star in some games and a bench-warmer in others.
The big man wasn’t dominant Wednesday, but he was good enough to help the Pacers win, recording just his second double-double of the playoffs with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Hibbert scored on an and-one to begin the second half when he grabbed a rebound off a missed shot by George and scored while being fouled by James, who committed his fourth foul.
Watch the video of that play above.
Game 6 is Friday night at 8:30 in Miami. ESPN has the telecast, which you can also watch online via Watch ESPN.