NBA playoffs: Pacers cool Heat, tying Eastern series at one (+video)
Indiana got what they wanted: a split of the first two games in Miami. Now, the Pacers head back to the heartland, looking to take Game 3.
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And that has the Heat facing their first big problem of the postseason.
David West scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and the Indiana Pacers took home-court advantage away from Miami by beating the Heat 78-75 in Game 2 of the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal series Tuesday night — after James and Wade both came up short on key opportunities down the stretch.
"We never felt like we were the underdogs," Indiana's Danny Granger said.
The series is tied at a game apiece, with Game 3 in Indianapolis on Thursday night.
With Chris Bosh out indefinitely because of a strained abdominal muscle, James scored 28 points for Miami and Wade finished with 24, making them the only two Heat players to score more than five — the first time that happened in franchise history, according to STATS LLC. James missed two free throws with 54.3 seconds left and Miami down one, and Wade was short on a layup that would have tied the game with 16 seconds remaining.
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Moments later, a few of the Pacers were leaping at midcourt of Miami's floor, something that Wade said was noticed afterward, though the Indiana side disputed that it was a celebration. Either way, the Heat have bigger issues to address.
"Chris was missed, no doubt about it," Wade said. "But that's not the reason we lost this ball game."
The Pacers kept giving Miami chances. Plenty of them.
Indiana missed 24 of 29 shots in one stretch, on the road. The Pacers wasted an 11-point, second-half lead. They were outscored by Wade and James in the fourth quarter, 21-17.
Somehow, it worked.
"Defense and rebounding," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "We built this team, we started talking about smash-mouth basketball, about winning the war in the trenches, and that's with defense and rebounding. That's what I grew up watching Eastern Conference basketball being like. We understand offense is going to come and go, especially like a great defensive team like these guys ... but we're pretty good, too."
Miami shot 35 percent and got outrebounded 50-40, yet still could easily be up 2-0.
"The game is not lost or won with two free throws," James said. "But I definitely want to come through for my teammates. So I'll get an opportunity again. I know I'll be at the line again in that situation. Just go up and make 'em."
After Wade missed the layup that would have tied the game, he remained on the court for a few extra seconds, looking exhausted until James — who said Wade would make that shot "10 out of 10 times" — pulled him up.