Sunday, February 18, 2018
Sports

Heat seizes edge on Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS — LeBron James scored 22 and the Heat rediscovered its offensive punch, routing the Pacers 114-96 Sunday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final.

James got plenty of help as the Heat reclaimed the homecourt advantage it lost two nights earlier. Dwyane Wade had 18 points, and Udonis Haslem added 17.

David West led Indiana with 21 points, and Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds. The Pacers lost for the first time at home in the playoffs this season, dropping to 6-1.

It was vastly different from the first two games when the Heat couldn't pull away.

Miami used an 8-2 run to open a 10-point lead in the second quarter and led 70-56 at halftime, Miami's biggest lead in the series. The Heat's now the first team to win five consecutive road games all by double digits in a single postseason.

Indiana didn't get closer than seven the rest of the way.

It was a rare letdown from one of the NBA's top defensive teams.

Miami shot 54.5 percent from the field, was 24-of-28 from the line, matched its highest-scoring quarter of the playoffs this season (34) in the first, broke the franchise's postseason scoring record for a half with 70 and tied a franchise playoff record with one first-half turnover.

The combination was the perfect remedy for Miami, which needed James' buzzer-beating layup to win Game 1 in overtime. James turned the ball over twice in the closing seconds of Game 2, a 97-93 loss. The Heat hadn't led by more than five in either of those two home games.

On Sunday, Miami got major contributions from a handful of players and left nothing to chance. It traded baskets through the first quarter, building a 34-30 lead and getting the Pacers out of their grind-it-out style, then opened up the second quarter on an 8-2 run to make it 42-32. Indiana couldn't get closer than seven the rest of the half and when James knocked down a 15-foot jumper with 1.3 seconds left, the Heat had the record.

Before the game, the league ruled that Wade, who hit Indiana's Lance Stephenson in the head in Game 2, did not warrant a suspension, but his forearm blow was deemed a flagrant foul, penalty 1. The league decided to take no action on the hard foul that Indiana's West delivered with an elbow to Miami point guard Mario Chalmers' shoulder.

Spurs seek quick end

MEMPHIS — Go ahead and call the Spurs old. They're also experienced enough to know what to do only a win away from their first NBA Finals berth since 2007: finish off the Grizzlies.

"We know they're not going to lay down," Spurs center Tim Duncan said Sunday, a day after going up 3-0 with a 104-93 overtime win. "We're going to have to beat them. We understand what we have going here, and we understand that we want to finish it as quickly as we can."

San Antonio held a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference final a year ago when Oklahoma City won four straight.

The Spurs know time is running out for their trio of 37-year-old Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, along with coach Gregg Popovich. The franchise is in its 16th straight postseason and has four NBA titles, but it hasn't played in the Finals since 2007.

On Saturday, Duncan, Parker and Ginobili took turns scoring in the fourth quarter and beyond after the Spurs played so ugly in the early minutes that Popovich subbed out all five of his starters at once while trailing 16-5.

"It looked like those five guys had been asleep since Tuesday, and so we thought we might as well get five different bodies out there and at least start to compete and not be as sloppy as that group looked," Popovich said. "It was one of the worst starts I've ever seen."

Around the league: The Suns will finalize a three-year deal today that will bring back shooting guard Jeff Hornacek, 50, as their coach, USA Today reported. Hornacek, an assistant on the Jazz staff since 2007, had also interviewed for the Bobcats coaching job.

Heat 114, Pacers 96

MIAMI (114): James 8-17 6-6 22, Haslem 8-9 1-1 17, Bosh 6-10 1-1 15, Chalmers 4-6 6-7 14, Wade 8-14 2-3 18, Allen 2-6 0-0 6, Andersen 4-4 1-2 9, Battier 1-4 4-4 7, Cole 1-5 2-2 5, Anthony 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 0-2 1-2 1, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 42-77 24-28 114.

INDIANA (96): George 3-10 5-8 13, West 8-16 5-8 21, Hibbert 4-12 12-15 20, Hill 5-10 6-7 19, Stephenson 2-10 1-2 7, T.Hansbrough 2-7 0-2 4, Young 1-1 0-0 2, Augustin 1-1 0-0 3, Mahinmi 2-2 0-0 4, Green 1-1 0-0 2, Johnson 0-3 1-2 1, Pendergraph 0-0 0-0 0, B.Hansbrough 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-73 30-44 96.

Miami 34 36 21 23— 114

Indiana 30 26 20 20— 96

3-Point GoalsMiami 6-14 (Bosh 2-3, Allen 2-4, Cole 1-2, Battier 1-4, James 0-1), Indiana 8-14 (Hill 3-3, George 2-4, Stephenson 2-5, Augustin 1-1, Johnson 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMiami 44 (Andersen 9), Indiana 53 (Hibbert 17). AssistsMiami 21 (Wade 8), Indiana 16 (George 8). Total FoulsMiami 30, Indiana 25. A18,165

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