The air was completely let out of AmericanAirlines Arena, but LeBron James found a way to inflate it again. His Game 1 heroics pushed the Miami Heat to a 103-102 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday night.
James had the place rocking with a layup inside 10 seconds to give the Heat the lead. However, everything fell silent when Dwyane Wade fouled Paul George on a long three-point attempt. After George hit all three, one could hear a pindrop in South Beach.
Yet, with just 2.2 seconds on the clock, James found time for one more masterful display. He took the inbounds pass and blew by George to kiss the glass as it lit up red.
James had himself his ninth career playoff triple-double, going for 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
George scored eight points in overtime, proving he is the star that the Pacers will need to compete with the Heat in this series. He also drilled the three-pointer to send the game to overtime, from about 30 feet out. He totaled 27 points on the night.
Miami's second star came from an unlikely spot on the bench. Chris Andersen was enormous for the Heat, cleaning up the paint offensively. He went 7-of-7 for 16 points in just 18 minutes.
David West was huge for Indiana, netting 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Roy Hibbert joined him with an excellent game in the paint, going for 19 points and nine rebounds.
Thanks to 18 points from West and the help of 13 turnovers from Miami in the first two quarters, the Pacers took a 42-37 lead into halftime.
Some back-and-forth buckets to end the third left the Pacers with a 65-64 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Tyler Hansbrough put up eight big points in the quarter, lessening the blow from West and Hibbert's foul trouble.
Four points at the rim from Chris Andersen and the Heat were back up 76-73 with 7:20 remaining. Andersen was the beneficiary of the Pacers helping on penetrators all night. At this point, he was 6-of-6 for 12 points, and it all required minimal work.
Sometimes James is just too much. Inside five minutes, Dwyane Wade was met and turned away at the rim by Hibbert. Unfortunately, the ball wound up in James' hands for an open three at the shot-clock buzzer. Miami went up 83-80 with 4:30 remaining.
With only 54 seconds left, West saw an open lane to the rim and took it. His graceful floater lofted over Bosh's hand and through, tying the game at 89.
Wade saw that same opening on the right side of the paint at the other end, subsequently laying it in for the two-point lead. Frank Vogel was forced to use a timeout with 36 seconds to go.
After a George turnover, in which he tried passing to his team bench, the Heat got the ball to Allen. Shooting his first freebies of the game, Allen hit just 1-of-2, pushing Miami ahead 92-89 with 17 seconds on the clock.
The Pacers looked lost on their final possession, passing the ball out on the perimeter. George finally had to settle for a covered 30-footer. Which, of course, he drilled to even up the score at 92. The 0.7 seconds didn't give Miami a good look to win, and to overtime it went.
Indiana went up 99-96 when George found himself a three-point play, drawing James' fifth foul with 2:10 remaining. Bosh, who finished the game with 17 points, then grabbed just his second (and final) rebound of the game with 50 seconds left in overtime. That rebound, though, was a part of a three-point play put-back that tied the game at 99.
Vogel made the call to pull Hibbert out and match up with Miami's small lineup, but that allowed James a nearly unimpeded shot to the rim. The easy layup put the Heat up 101-99 with just 10 seconds left.
After a mad scramble, George was fouled on a long bomb to try and win it, sending him to the line for three. Wade picked up his sixth foul on the play, ending his night with 19 points. George hit all three, giving Indiana a pencil-thin, one-point lead with just over two seconds left.
George was perhaps a tad overexcited on the ensuing Miami possession. He jumped out too far on James, who used the inbounds pass to spin in front of the defender and release a layup right before the buzzer for the win.
The Heat go up 1-0 in the young series. Buckle up, Game 2 is Friday night in Miami.