LeBron James scored 26 points, Dwyane Wade added 23 and the Miami Heat pulled away late to defeat the Indiana Pacers, 99-87, at AmericanAirlines Arena Saturday night, taking a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Heat dug themselves a hole early, as the Pacers jumped out to a 37-22 lead in the second period. However, turnovers doomed Indiana, as Frank Vogel's club ended up coughing up the rock 17 times, which led to 26 Miami points.
Ray Allen also had a huge fourth quarter, burying four three-pointers to put the Pacers away. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra already knew all about Allen's penchant for hitting big shots before the sharpshooter even came to Miami.
The Heat shot 54.4 percent from the floor, going 10-of-18 from long distance.
Indiana shot the ball fairly well, hitting at a 47.7 clip, but it made only six of its 21 three-point tries. Plus, the turnovers absolutely killed Paul George and company.
Pacers stumble in Miami, 99-87 and fall behind 2-1 in the best-of-7 series. Heat shot better than 50% in third straight game.— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) May 25, 2014
Miami outscored the Pacers 61-45 during the second half.
Game 4 is Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET, once again at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
Key Player Grades
Paul George, Small Forward
Paul George struggled mightily in this one.
The star forward shot 5-of-13 from the floor and went only 6-of-10 from the free-throw line, and he didn't get into double figures until the fourth quarter.
George also missed numerous open looks from three-point range, going 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. Plus, he was on the bench due to foul trouble for much of the first half.
He finished with 17 points and four assists.
George must play better for Indiana to have any chance in this series, without question.
Roy Hibbert, Center
Roy Hibbert came out of the gates fast, scoring 10 points off 4-of-6 shooting in the first quarter. He was working Miami over in the post and looked extremely confident early on.
Then, Hibbert disappeared.
The 7'2" behemoth tallied only six points the rest of the way and grabbed only two rebounds overall.
His rim protection was also not what we are accustomed to seeing.
Hibbert shot the ball well, going 7-of-13, but he didn't do enough after the opening frame.
Lance Stephenson, Shooting Guard
Lance Stephenson was the only player to post a double-double in this game, registering 10 points and 11 rebounds, but he was nonexistent in the second half.
Stephenson only recorded two points and two boards over the final 24 minutes.
Overall, Stephenson shot 3-of-9, coming up empty on all four of his three-point tries.
This was, quite easily, Stephenson's worst game of the series. Hopefully for Indiana, he plays much better in Game 4.
David West, Power Forward
Akin to Hibbert, David West got off to a quick start, scoring seven points in the first quarter and getting Chris Bosh into foul trouble early.
However, West's impact was subdued for the remainder of the game, as he too scored only six points over the last three quarters.
West finished with 13 points and five rebounds and shot 5-of-8, but the Pacers needed his offense down the stretch and didn't get it.
George Hill, Point Guard
This was not a very impressive outing for George Hill, and that's being kind.
The Pacers' floor general spent much of the night in foul trouble, and when he was on the floor, he wasn't all that productive.
Hill scored eight points off 2-of-5 shooting, hitting a three in garbage time. He even air-balled a good look from downtown during the first quarter.
To make matters worse, Hill turned the ball over four times in 21 minutes.
Luis Scola, Sixth Man
Luis Scola had a big second period, scoring eight points off 4-of-6 shooting and really working over Chris Bosh in the post. Those eight points doubled the amount he had all series coming into the game.
That was the only quarter where Scola made an impact, as he only attempted one other shot in his 13 minutes and misfired.
He grabbed only one rebound, but he was a plus-nine.
Indiana's bench just wasn't able to match the energy of Miami's.
C.J. Watson knocked down a pair of three-pointers, but that was all he did in his 25 minutes. He went 2-of-6 from the floor and didn't do a very good job of getting the Pacers into their offense. Watson posted a minus-17. Yuck.
Rasual Butler also buried a couple of triples for six points, but his impact otherwise was limited.
Ian Mahinmi was able to contribute three points and four rebounds in nine minutes.
As far as Evan Turner? He may as well not even be on Indy's roster anymore, as he has clearly fallen out of the rotation.
LeBron James, Small Forward
LeBron James got off to a slow start, scoring only four points in the first quarter, but he exploded over the next two periods, scoring 22 points over the second and third periods.
James' biggest stretch came midway through the third when he set the Heat off on a run that would eventually propel them to the win.
James scored 26 points overall, shooting 9-of-14. He also did a fine job getting to the free-throw line, making good on seven of his nine attempts from the stripe.
LeBron was a little sloppy with the basketball, committing six turnovers, but he was able to make up for it with efficient offense and timely stops defensively.
He added seven assists, five rebounds and four steals to his stat sheet.
The turnovers prevent him from getting a full "A," though.
Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard
Dwyane Wade was brilliant in this one.
After going scoreless in the first quarter, Wade—like James—went off over the next 24 minutes, compiling 18 points throughout the second and third periods.
Wade knocked down mid-range jumpers, put in floaters around the rim and even drained a pair of triples, one coming at the end of the third quarter to put Miami up by seven.
Many have asked if Tim Grover is still working with Wade. Yes. All playoffs. Was in a full sweat when I saw him pregame.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 25, 2014
D-Wade scored 23 points overall off 9-of-16 shooting, adding four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
He also took fine care of the rock, tallying only two turnovers.
Chris Bosh, Center
The Heat have been able to get by in this series with minimal contributions from Chris Bosh so far, but that isn't going to work in the finals.
Bosh was awful once again, going 4-of-12 from the floor for the second time this series. He scored only nine points and pulled down four rebounds in 23 minutes, spending most of his night in foul trouble.
Spoelstra acknowledges that Bosh struggled to get into rhythm & got frustrated.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 25, 2014
The big man was also a team-worst minus-eight.
Again, Bosh has to get better if the Heat want to earn a three-peat.
Mario Chalmers, Point Guard
Mario Chalmers was benched in favor of Norris Cole for the majority of this contest.
Chalmers shot the ball well, going 3-of-4 from the floor, but he was sloppy, committing three turnovers in just 14 minutes.
Miami's offense clearly looked crisper with Cole running the show.
Udonis Haslem, Power Forward
Udonis Haslem is the best man Miami has to combat Hibbert in the post, and that is why he is starting.
Haslem does not have that same mid-range jumper he once did, but that's not what the Heat are asking of him. What they are asking is that he makes Hibbert work.
Haslem struggled against the Pacers' big man early on, but as the game progressed, he started to make an impact, constantly battling with Hibbert on the glass.
The veteran tallied four points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. He also committed four fouls.
Ray Allen, Sixth Man
Ray Allen was quiet all night, and then the fourth quarter rolled around.
The future Hall of Famer drilled four back-breaking threes over the final 12 minutes, his third putting the Heat up by 11 with just under five minutes to play and his last one putting them up 15 with 2:50 to go.
Erik Spoelstra just pulled out the "so many years of pain" quote about facing Ray Allen. It was a matter of time.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 25, 2014
Allen went 4-of-6 from the field overall and made four of his five free-throw attempts. He scored 16 points.
Just a big-time performance down the stretch.
Norris Cole played a pivotal role in the win, scoring nine points off 4-of-6 shooting. He brought energy on both ends of the floor and was given the benefit of the doubt over Chalmers in crunch time, playing 33 minutes overall.
Chris Andersen had an impact, as well, recording three points and seven boards in 23 minutes. He even dished out a couple of assists.
Shane Battier played seven minutes, knocking down one three.
Rashard Lewis saw plenty of burn, too, playing 17 minutes. He did not score, but he made an impact defensively, doing his best to put a body on Indiana's big men. As a matter of fact, Lewis registered a plus-21.
Spoelstra: "It's a real credit to Rashard for keeping himself ready... Our team is about moments, & having those moments."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 25, 2014
Again, Miami's reserves simply played with more fire than Indiana's.